Japanese and Chinese officials to meet next week in Beijing

Japanese and Chinese officials will meet next week in Beijing to discuss Tokyo's bid for a permanent U.N. Security Council seat, amid deteriorating ties between the two countries, the Japanese government said Thursday. Japan has been campaigning, so far unsuccessfully, with other nations to win permanent seats on an expanded council. China, one of the five current permanent members, along with the United States, Russia, France and Britain, opposes a permanent seat for Japan, saying Tokyo hasn't atoned for its World War II atrocities. China says it wants more developing countries on the council.

The officials meeting in Beijing on Dec. 26 are expected to exchange opinions on Security Council reform, defense affairs and other aspects of U.N. reform, said a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, speaking anonymously under ministry regulations.

The Security Council currently has 15 members, 10 elected for two-year terms and five permanent members who have veto power. While there is widespread support for expanding the council to reflect changes since the U.N. founding 60 years ago, there is no agreement on how large it should be, who should get seats, whether new seats should be permanent or temporary, and who should have veto power.

Relations between Japan and China have deteriorated rapidly in recent years, and the two countries are feuding over interpretations of World War II, exploitation of maritime resources and territorial claims.

The tensions over the past few years have blocked a full-fledged summit between Japanese and Chinese leaders since 2001, and China recently scuttled an expected meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at the East Asia Summit in Malaysia, reports the AP. I.L.

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