A lot of things were happening all over the world in 1971. The President of the United States at that time was Richard Nixon, Republican, who was the first U.S. president in history to resign from office amid scandal. He was also the first U.S. president to not only visit China but the first president to ever normalize relations with that country which it had considered a foe for quite some time.
In 1971, war was also raging on in Vietnam as Asia was being swallowed up by the Communist and as a result China for years had branded Vietnam the "Cuba of the East" and had regarded its brand of Soviet style communism dangerous not only to China but to all of Asia. China eventually attacked along Vietnam's borders in an unsuccessful attempt to force the Vietnamese out of Cambodia. This action by the Chinese was an attempt to show the world that it wasn't just a paper tiger but a leader on an international level, and a country that could prove its might for the greater good of world peace in the Asian-Pacific region. The other reason worth mentioning is that China initiated this military action unilaterally without drawing support from the United States.
This was a unilateral act by Beijing to show its force against the Soviet threat of communism. And this is specifically why I believe is the real reason why Japan, even though a member of the United Nations, has never been able to garner enough votes to secure a seat on the U.N. Security Council.
Under Kofi Annaan's general assembly, Japan wasn't able to act in its own interest on a military level during and after the Cold War, and that this was a deciding factor in its rejection on the Security Council, despite Japans generosity to the U.N. I do believe that China has shown some initiative in being an international presence, but I do not think that that warrants them the right to a seat on the council, let alone as a member of the U.N., especially with its human rights abuses.
I do believe, however, that the Japanese deserve a seat just for having the willingness to assist the international body in international affairs. There's plenty of reason why it could be argued that the Japanese are not ready; their present day constitution which contains over 50 entries from the American Bill of Rights, which also prevents them from having the collective ability to wage war in the interest of peace.
China never had to make any compromises in order to be inducted into the Security Council nor the U.N. Even with its Maoist style of Communism, which is just a euphemism for the PRC or nationalist, and its quasi-free market economy, China is still very much so a communist regime in the broader sense. In the case of Japan, a country with the second largest trade surplus in the world, which also has a vibrant economy and a workable Democracy is very much, in my opinion, deserving of its own seat on the council, not just a membership in the U.N.
Having assisted the United States in the war against terror and its refusal to acquire nuclear weapons, along with its initiatives on the environment, Japan has certainly earned its right to be considered a member of the international community with full entitlements and benefits. The problem is is that Japan hasn't proven that it can wave a gun in somebody's face yet, and that it can do so without the approval of their "big brother" the U.S.A.
(" Wave a gun and get respected...mabye? Until then your membership in the United Nations is limited to fake smiles and cold fish handshakes. Thanks for being the largest donor to this organization.")
Basically, the general assembly said "HELL NO" to the only country in the world with a war renouncing constitution that prevents it from acting in its own interest. A country, Japan, which has sworn to never wage war again is not worthy of a seat on the security council because it cannot prove to be an effective member of a group of nations that wage wars in their own interest. Which leads me to question the merits of the Security Council....and its legitimacy in the world as a peace maker or a peace breaker...., but that's another argument.
In closing, I do believe that Japan, having been a member of the United Nations governing body for over fifty years, has most certainly earned it the right to be a member of the security council, too. In the case of China, having been one of the original members of the U.N., and then acquiring security council membership in 1971, has not done much to further peace at home and in the world. So where is the merit in being a member of the security council, or the U.N. for that matter? How has being a member of either of these organizations furthered world peace and stability…? Where was the U.N. and the security council during the mass genocides in Darfur and Sudan, after 70,000 people were butchered to death?
I often times wonder what kind of country Japan would’ve been like had it gotten a seat on the security council thirty years ago!? I wonder what the general “psyche” of the nation would've been like had the country played a more active role militarily in world affairs instead of being a lapdog for the U.S.….?