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AKIHITO, MICHIKO TOUR THE U.N. AS SEX-SLAVE PROTEST IS STAGED

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Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited United Nations world headquarters Thursday, retracing the steps the emperor's father made 20 years ago, but this time drawing Japan closer to gaining a permanent presence on the U.N. Security Council.

The emperor and empress are on a two-week, 17-city tour of the United States that began in Atlanta last Friday. They visited the White House Monday to attend President Bill Clinton's first state dinner.The two were greeted at the United Nations by Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and his wife - but also by angry demonstrators across the street demanding Japan apologize for using sex slaves during World War II.

Emperor Hirohito, Akihito's father, visited U.N. headquarters in October, 1975.

The royal couple made no formal statement during their two-hour visit to U.N. headquarters. The emperor and empress were given tours of various U.N. conference rooms, including the Security Council chamber, where powerful countries routinely discuss matters of war and peace.

Japan has openly expressed the wish to become a permanent member of the Security Council because of its vast economic influence around the world. Currently the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain are the only permanent members in the 15-nation body. The other 10 revolving members are elected every two years.

Negotiations are under way to reorganize and enlarge the Security Council to accommodate growing demands from developing countries, economic powers such as Germany and Japan and populous countries such as India, Brazil and Nigeria.

The emperor and empress had lunch with the Boutros-Ghalis in the U.N. leader's 38th floor office.