Japan’s Non-Permanent Membership to the UNSC and Its Possible Implications

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The increasing tension in global politics in general and in the Asia-Pacific Region in particular encourages the states, which closely feel the security concerns created by this tension, to take on new roles and take new steps, primarily regionally and then globally. Especially in the Asia-Pacific Region, the security concerns that have increased recently cause the countries of the region to take proactive steps in the field of defense. As a matter of fact, it can be said that the regional security structure is extremely fragile.

The first and most important reason for this vulnerability is North Korea’s increasing nuclear power. This nuclear power endangers firstly the regional security and then the global security environment. Because the quality and quantity of nuclear and ballistic missile tests carried out by Pyongyang shows the reasons for this danger.

Another reason for the fragile nature of the security environment is that the region has become a playground for the competition between the United States of America (USA) and China, especially in 2022. Because the AUKUS Pact, which was established in October 2021 between the USA, England and Australia, showed its real effectiveness in 2022. At the same time, the visits of Nancy Pelosi who is the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, and then the top executives of Western states, to Taiwan within 2022, provoked China seriously. As a matter of fact, 2022 has been a year in which China increased its threat to Taiwan and doubled its violations of Taipei’s air defense zone by using warplanes compared to 2021.[1]

All these situations have led to serious cracks in the regional security architecture. As a matter of fact, those crackdowns had repercussions at the global level. In the face of these developments, it can be said that especially Japan perceives a threat from North Korea at a primary level and from China at a secondary level. In practice, this has been countered by Tokyo’s modernization of its military and increased defense spending.

At the same time, in this process, Japan took its pro-Western attitude to a more advanced level. In addition to all these, the Tokyo administration has started to pursue the goal of developing alliance relations that it has built on the basis of defense in the foreign policy making process. In this context, Japan, which already has a strong alliance and dialogue with the USA, is trying to build security-based relations with other western states.

The last and most serious move made at this point is Japan’s non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). As a matter of fact, Japan will be a non-permanent member of the UNSC for two years, starting from January 2023.[2] In his statement on the subject, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the Moscow administration for the war in Ukraine, arguing that Russia, one of the five permanent members of the UNSC which has veto power, “is trying to disrupt the international order”. At the same time, Kishida stated that Japan, as a non-permanent member, would play the role of advancing reforms to restore the functions of the United Nations (UN).[3] This points to the strengthening of Western actors within the UNSC.

This situation is evidence of Japan’s increasingly proactive foreign policy. The second point that can be evaluated here is that if Tokyo’s policies continue in the same way, these policies may harm the influence of the USA in the Asia-Pacific Region. Because, are these policies of Japan under the control of the USA is the question of whether it is implemented in spite of the USA is a matter of curiosity. As a matter of fact, it is thought that South Korea has started to follow a policy of “taking care of itself” just like Japan. If this thesis is true, the Western Alliance is likely to start to crack. This is a situation that could harm the US’s regional and global goals. As a matter of fact, it is known that the USA has a significant influence in the UNSC. As a matter of fact, this development can also be read as the USA’s move to control Japan. However, it should be noted that, the strengthening of Tokyo by the control of the USA is also a situation that will benefit the West.

Another reading that can be made at this point is the possibility of Japan’s move to create a stronger sanction pressure within the UNSC against North Korea. Because the sanction decisions that are tried to be taken against North Korea within the UNSC are faced with the veto obstacles of China and Russia every time. In this context, the explanations are also important. As a matter of fact, Japan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ishikane Kimihiro, stated at the press conference held for Japan’s two-year temporary membership mission, that they would make every effort for the UNSC to reach a consensus on North Korea’s weapons programs.[4] As can be understood from this, the fact that Japan, an important ally of the USA and a state that closely feels the danger of North Korea, is included in the UNSC indicates that China and Russia will be tried to be suppressed.

As a result, Japan’s temporary membership to the UNSC is important in terms of both developing its own foreign policy in the short term and increasing the influence of the West in the UNSC through the Asia-Pacific Region. Because the temporary membership seems to serve to increase the pressure on North Korea, Russia and China.

[1] “China’s Warplane Incursions into Taiwan Air Defence Zone Doubled in 2022”, The Guardian,, (Date of Accesion:08.01.2023).

[2] “Japan to be Tested as Nonpermanent U.N.Security Council Member”, The Japan Times,, (Date of Accesion:08.01.2022).

[3] Ibid.

[4] “Japan Envoy: Security Council Must Unite on North Korea”, The Asahi Shimbun,, (Date of Accesion:08.01.2022).

Zeki Talustan GÜLTEN
Zeki Talustan Gülten, 2021 yılında Yalova Üniversitesi İktisadi ve İdari Bilimler Fakültesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü’nden “Amerikan Dış Politikası” başlıklı bitirme teziyle ve 2023 yılında da Anadolu Üniversitesi Açık Öğretim Fakültesi Dış Ticaret bölümünden mezun olmuştur. Halihazırda Marmara Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda Tezli Yüksek Lisans öğrenimine devam eden Gülten, lisans eğitimi esnasında Erasmus+ programı çerçevesinde Lodz Üniversitesi Uluslararası ve Politik Çalışmalar Fakültesi’nde bir dönem boyunca öğrenci olarak bulunmuştur. ANKASAM’da Asya-Pasifik Araştırma Asistanı olarak çalışan Gülten’in başlıca ilgi alanları; Amerikan Dış Politikası, Asya-Pasifik ve Uluslararası Hukuk’tur. Gülten, iyi derecede İngilizce bilmektedir.