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[Aug. 26th, 2004|02:02 am]
Japan has to re-examine Article 9 if it wants Security Council seat: Powell

Friday, August 13, 2004 at 07:34 JST
WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday Japan has to consider revising the war-renouncing Article 9 of its Constitution if it wants to become a permanent U.N. Security Council member, while noting it is "entirely" up to the Japanese people to decide on whether to do so.

Powell reiterated U.S. support for Japan's quest for permanent U.N. Security Council membership and acknowledged the importance of Article 9 to the Japanese people.

At the same time, however, he said, "If Japan is going to play a full role on the world stage and become a full active participating member of the Security Council, and have the kind of obligations that it would pick up as a member of the Security Council, Article 9 would have to be examined in that light."

"But whether or not Article 9 should be modified or changed is absolutely and entirely up to the Japanese people to decide because the United States would not presume an opinion," Powell said.

Article 9, the centerpiece of Japan's pacifist Constitution, stipulates "the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes."

Powell's comments echoed remarks made by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in July. Armitage told a group of Japanese lawmakers that it would be difficult for Japan to become a permanent U.N. Security Council member if it cannot play a greater military role for international peace.

Obtaining permanent U.N. Security Council membership is a priority foreign policy goal for Japan. Tokyo insists Japan is eligible for the post as it has been the second-largest contributor to the United Nations and is involved in various U.N. peacekeeping operations.

Powell also tacitly urged Japan to reconsider its oil development deal with Iran given that Teheran is allegedly trying to build nuclear weapons through a uranium enrichment program.

He said the United States hopes Japan will take into account Teheran's suspected nuclear arms development.

Powell said it "seems clear to us that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon" and accused Iran of resuming construction of centrifuges for its uranium enrichment program.

"I would hope that the Japanese government, Japanese businesses, would take this into account as they make judgments as to whether this is the place that one should be making investments in or doing this kind of energy business with," he said.

Japan and Iran signed an agreement in February on an oil development project in Azadegan, southern Iran, one of the world's largest oil fields.

The United States believes the uranium enrichment program by oil-rich Iran is intended to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists it needs enriched uranium for power stations being built to meet booming domestic demand for electricity.

Washington has indicated its intention to bring the Iranian nuclear case before the U.N. Security Council for sanctions.