Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi speaks to foreign correspondents Wednesday at an afternoon press conference in Tokyo.

Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi speaks to foreign correspondents Wednesday at an afternoon press conference in Tokyo. (Juliana Gittler / S&S)

TOKYO — Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi assured the international community Wednesday that Japan has no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons, countering speculation that the prospect of a nuclear-armed North Korea might lead Japan to build or buy the weapons for self-defense.

Japan also should have a more prominent role in the U.N. Security Council, Kawaguchi told members of the foreign press during a news conference.

The six-nation talks, featuring representatives from the United States, Japan, South Korea, Russia, China and North Korea, are aimed at producing a resolution to the standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. The three-day session began Wednesday morning, Kawaguchi said, when each nation’s envoy took a seat around a hexagon-shaped table and, in alphabetical order, delivered an opening speech.

North Korea has said it wants a security guarantee and aid before giving up its nuclear-weapons program.

“Whatever outcome … whatever form that takes, we know that the U.S. will not do something that would jeopardize our alliance relationship,” said Kawaguchi, who declined to elaborate on the opening day of the talks.

She also dismissed the possibility of Japan acquiring nuclear weapons. “Japan has [an] international commitment and domestic policy” not to possess nuclear weapons, she said.

“We have chosen not to be a member of the nuclear club by joining NPT,” said Kawaguchi, referring to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, established in 1970.

Kawaguchi also talked about Japan’s future involvement with the international community and called for U.N. reform.

“Reform of U.N. Council should therefore be considered by all member states as a crucial step for the enhancement of the United Nations’ overall legitimacy as we try to achieve common goal and stability of the world,” Kawaguchi said.

She criticized the U.N. Security Council’s role prior to the U.S. military intervention in Iraq, saying it “could not come to meeting of minds,” forcing Japan to work with other countries through outside channels.

Japan contributes approximately 20 percent to the overall U.N. budget, according to Kawaguchi, but has no seat on the Security Council. She said Japan needs to be part of the Security Council.

“When the reform of the Security Council is realized, Japan would like to assume greater responsibility as a permanent member of the council,” she said.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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