London, Jan 10:
Japan should be granted a permanent UN Security Council seat, Britain's Prime Minister has said. Blair said on Tuesday that new economic growth and political reforms were allowing Japan "to take its proper place on the world stage."
Japan played a crucial role in recent six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, was key to global talks on climate change and provided troops in southern Iraq, where they worked alongside British forces, Blair said.
"I believe the moment is right for this to happen," Blair said after holding talks in London with Japan's visiting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Blair said Britain would work closely with Japan to press its candidacy, which he said would represent an important reform of the body.
"The role of Japan in the world is becoming a major priority for us and for our foreign policy," Blair told a news conference at his Downing Street office.
Japan's bid in 2005 to gain a permanent council seat, along with Brazil, India and Germany, failed to secure the required two-third support from the General Assembly. China, which has had difficult relations with Japan in recent years, has opposed Tokyo's proposed membership.
Abe, who became Japan's leader in September, said he was encouraged by Blair's support over his nation's ambitions for a permanent UN Security Council seat.