Tanigaki urges review of Japan's hefty UN dues
Updated: 2006-01-11 10:26
Japanese Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki urged U.N. Secretary-General Kofi
Annan on Tuesday to fix what Japan sees as a discrepancy between Tokyo's hefty
U.N. dues and its limited role in the world body.
Japan is the second highest contributor to the United Nations after the
United States and has long sought a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council,
so far without success.
Government officials have made veiled threats to cut its contribution --
totaling nearly 20 percent of the U.N. budget excluding peacekeeping -- if Japan
fails to gain a permanent seat on the prestigious 15-nation council.
"Japan is the highest contributor after the United States, because of the
size of its economy. I'm sure many feel this is hard to accept when compared to
the role and responsibility that Japan is granted in the U.N.," Tanigaki told
reporters in New York after talks with Annan.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (L) shakes
hands with Japanese Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki (R) after a meeting
in New York January 10, 2006. Tanigaki visited Annan at his residence for
a brief meeting as part of his tour of the U.S.
Tanigaki, on a week-long visit to the United States, said he did not make any
direct threats to cut contributions, but made clear he wanted to see change.
"The expression I used wasn't 'lower it.' But I did say that the U.N. fees
should reflect the role and responsibility a member country holds within the
U.N., as well as its economic power, and that the U.N. reforms should address
this," he said. "I said this in a well-mannered way."
Tanigaki quoted Annan as saying that a broad consensus among the 191 U.N.
member-nations was necessary for any council expansion.
After the failure of an effort it launched last year with Germany, India and
Brazil, Japan is now working on its own proposal, this time focusing on winning
A Japanese Finance Ministry official said Annan told Tanigaki that success
would depend on a package of solutions that would gain the support of all
Japan is the only nation that Washington has endorsed so far for a new
permanent seat on the council in addition to the current five permanent members
-- China, Russia, Britain, France and the United States.
But U.S. officials have said they want the council to expand by only a few
seats in all, and many nations are clamoring for any additional places around
the council table.
Last year's proposal by Japan and its three partners had called for the
addition of six permanent seats to the council -- four for themselves and two
for Africa -- and four nonpermanent seats, for a total of 25.
The council's current structure reflects the balance of power at the end of
World War Two. In addition to the five permanent members with veto power, 10
other nations rotate on and off with two-year terms.
Tanigaki is due to meet U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow later on Tuesday,
and is also due to meet other top U.S. officials later in the week.
The meetings with leading U.S. figures may help raise his political profile
ahead of this year's election for the head of the ruling Liberal Democratic
Party, a job that also carries with it the post of prime minister. Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi steps down in September.