Two years before Japan, India, Brazil and Germany forced a showdown over admitting the four of them to the permanent member club of the UN Security Council, the Japanese had secretly approached the US with a proposal to admit just two new members.
Going by the clues in the subsequent US diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks, the offer seemed to have been given the cold shoulder by the United States, never too eager share the power of the UN veto with countries other than the four others who had it.
Interestingly, the Japanese claimed that the proposal came from one of the four members of the G-4 group [India, Japan, Germany & Brazil,] but declined to identify which one. It was kept as a top secret, apparently because others in the group would not be too pleased at the compromise move.
“Takizaki explained that the new proposal was initiated by “one of the other G-4 members” whom he declined to identify. The proposal has been shared with very few other countries and with few officials within the Japanese government,” read the 2006 cable, authored by US Ambassador to Japan, John Schieffer. He was quoting Japanese foreign ministry official in charge of UN Policy, Shigeki Takizaki who met him with the special request.
Two years later, Japan would team up its other G-4 partners and force the setting up of an intergovernmental negotiation process to push for 5 or 6 new permanent seats.
However, in the 2006 proposal, Japan was offering terms that the G-4 later refuse to consider.
Japan’s offer was for a maximum of two seats. If the candidates fighting for the permanent seat failed to get two thirds of the total votes of the UN General Assembly, these seats would be left empty. Not only was secret proposal demanding just a fraction of the seats that the D-4 officially demanded, but Japan was even ready to put a ‘review clause’ for the arrangement after 10 or 15 years.
Asked which of the two G-4 members would contest for the seats, Japan said there was no surety that the seat would go to any particular member. Japan said it was not concerned that China would try to block the proposal, but wanted a pledge from the United States that it would try to “interfere with or oppose” the proposal — an assurance that never seems to have been made, going by subsequent turn of events.