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Japan’s Bid to End ‘Enemy’ Clause Threatens U.N. Power Structure

June 8, 1991 GMT

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan, which has set its sights on a permanent seat in the U.N. Security Council, wants passages erased in the U.N. charter that refer to the island nation as a World War II ″enemy.″

Japan’s campaign draws credibility from its role as the U.N.’s second- largest dues-payer after the United States. Tokyo was asked to pay $105 million this year for U.N. upkeep, while the U.S. contribution was set at $272 million.

But the campaign threatens to unravel the U.N.’s delicate power structure in the post-Cold War era by setting a precedent for other nations to demand revisions in the charter, analysts and diplomats say.

The enemy clauses were designed to allow the 51 U.N. charter nations to act against their World War II foes - Japan, Germany, Italy and four other European countries - without prior approval of the powerful U.N. Security Council.

The five permanent members on the 15-member council - the United States, Britain, France, the Soviet Union and China - sympathize with Japan’s request. Such a change would require a two-thirds’ majority in the General Assembly.

But even a cosmetic alteration deleting the ″enemy clauses″ could stir up a hornet’s nest of demands for other changes. And questions might be raised about the permanent members’ own supreme position in the U.N. hierarchy.

It was the Security Council that in November approved the use of force to drive Iraq from Kuwait.

″A Pandora’s box ... sums up nicely what the members, especially the permanent council members fear,″ said a Japanese Foreign Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A U.S. official, also speaking anonymously, confirmed that Washington does not want the question of the charter opened up.

In addition to Japan, such countries as India and Brazil have alo indicated an interest in winning a permanent seat on the powerful body, which also has 10 rotating temporary seats.

Fears of stirring up other demands for changes in the U.N. charter, and Japan’s passive role in the Persian Gulf War, have weakened Tokyo’s quest for a permanent Security Council seat.

Japan, whose constitution bars it from using force to settle international conflicts, sent no military personnel to the gulf war. It contributed $13 billion, but that was delayed by debates over getting involved in a military conflict.

In recent months, however, Japan has debated creating a special military force to participate in U.N. peacekeeping missions. It also won a key position in December when Sadako Ogata, a Tokyo university professor, was appointed U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama recently stepped up Japan’s campaign to scratch the hated phrases from the U.N. charter.

″The ‘enemy clauses’ are inappropriate and meaningless in the present time, and so they should be rapidly eliminated,″ Nakayama said in a speech to the General Assembly last fall.

The U.N. charter doesn’t specify enemies of the 51 original signers. But the countries are generally understood to be Japan, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Finland.

″The term ‘enemy state’ ... applies to any state which during the Second World War has been an enemy of any signatory of the present Charter,″ Article 53 says.

Article 107 permits any charter signatory to take war-related ″action″ against enemies.

″Legally speaking, they are meaningless, but their very existence makes us feel segregated, although we’ve tried to help the U.N. very much,″ said the Japanese Foreign Ministry official.

Among the other so-called enemy states, Italy and Romania have voiced strong support for Japan’s request.

But Germany, preoccupied with the task of reunification, is uninterested in pushing the issue. ″We don’t think it is worthwhile,″ said Helmut Ohlraun, press counsellor at the German Embassy in Tokyo.