Japan rejects UN plea for peace-keepers

JAPAN has turned down a request from the United Nations to send unarmed peace-keepers to Macedonia, even though a fact-finding mission from the Foreign Ministry found it would be safe to do so.

But despite its nervousness about getting involved in any military conflict, the government is continuing its campaign for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, arguing that its financial contributions to the UN are bigger and more promptly paid than current Security Council members. Permanent membership has come to symbolise for many Japanese their acceptance as a leading world power.

The apparent contradiction between the government's desire to play a larger role in the world and its inability to make difficult decisions over individual foreign policy issues is a hangover from the comfortable days of the Cold War when Japan relied on the United States for diplomatic leadership while concentrating exclusively on economic growth.

It is precisely this state of affairs that the new government of Morihiro Hosokawa set out to alter. The political reform bill, voted down by the Upper House of the Diet (parliament) last Friday, was just one part of the grand strategy to make Japan a 'normal country', as Ichiro Ozawa, the architect of the reform plan, put it. A joint committee of the upper and lower houses of the Diet is to convene today to seek a compromise on political reform.

Until recently, Japan had kept a very low profile over the break-up of Yugoslavia, just sending money for humanitarian relief. But in early January a fact-finding mission from the Foreign Ministry was sent to tour the region. It was led by Shunji Yanai, chief of the ministry's foreign policy bureau. Mr Yanai was asked by the UN for unarmed peace-keepers to join the 300 US troops and 22 unarmed observers currently in Macedonia.

Mr Yanai said that, because there was no fighting in Macedonia, the request was 'worth examining'. When his comments reached Tokyo the government took fright. The Foreign Minister, Tsutomu Hata, and the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Masayoshi Takemura, emphasised that no Japanese personnel would be sent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office and Customer Services Manager

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small but very busy (and f...

Recruitment Genius: Portfolio Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has become known a...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer - Midlands

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Recruitment Genius: Sales / Account Manager

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales / Account Manager is re...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot