Japan plans to cut U.N. contribution

Posted by Martyn

According to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan, as expected, is planning to cut 5% from its annual contribution to the U.N. budget. This figure doesn’t sound like much but considering that Japan is the second largest contributor to the U.N. and currently accounts for 19% of the regular budget (after the United States with 24%), it leaves quite a sizeable hole to be filled. It will be left to other ‘less financially burdened’ nations to pick up the slack.

The reduced payment is due in no small part to Japan’s failure to secure a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. The United States initially supported Japan’s membership application until Japan began to support the other UNSC applications from Germany, India and Brazil. China also displayed almost frenzied opposition to Japan’s application.

Japan is also angry that its input into the U.N. decision-making process is far smaller than its financial contribution. The combined contributions of all the other permanent members of the UNSC: Britain, France, Russia and China, amounts to only 15% of the total budget. Britain and France pay 6%, China pays 2% and Russia only 1%.

In response to this issue, the Chinese foreign ministry recently referred to the U.N. Security Council as “not a board of directors whose importance is decided according to financial contributions from its members.”

Part of the problem is that the U.N. has gradually become so obsessed with equality among the nations that it has totally lost sight of its original charter. In doing so, the U.N. is making the same mistake as the League of Nations, i.e. far too many lofty ideals and not enough international support and hard cash. It is naïve to expect the U.N. to ignore the practical realities of nations that contribute one-fifth of the U.N. budget having the same influence as the tiniest Pacific or Caribbean island state. This is the harsh reality, otherwise, the U.N. will turn into nothing more than a useless talking shop.

In the meantime, the obvious candidates to pick up the U.N. budget shortfall are China and Russia.

The Discussion: 18 Comments

Good for Japan! They ought to cut out all foreign aid to China while they’re at it.

October 5, 2005 @ 3:24 pm | Comment

Can anyone really make any remotely convincing argument that Japan SHOULD continue footing the UN bill?

October 5, 2005 @ 4:19 pm | Comment

Yet another reason to heart the UN: They’ve gone Orweillian.

The original signatories of the UN Charter have been, ah, “corrected.”

“The Republic of China” has been replaced with “The People’s Republic of China” (an impressive feat on behalf of the PRC considering it didn’t exist at the time)

I knew Mao wouldn’t let laws of linear progression of time constrain him for long…

October 5, 2005 @ 4:24 pm | Comment

UN Charter: June 26 1945
People’s Republic of China: Oct 1 1949

Date PRC lives up to the UN Charter preamble of “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and smal”: TBD

October 5, 2005 @ 4:31 pm | Comment

Out of curiosity, where did you notice this? I’ve read the UN Charter preamble but have never actually seen the signatory nations.

October 5, 2005 @ 4:55 pm | Comment

“Can anyone really make any remotely convincing argument that Japan SHOULD continue footing the UN bill?”

I am kind of amused by this sentence. Who asked Japan to pay so much in the first place? You think China can force Japan to do that.

Japan is just a puppet for US and US forces Japan to pay so much. Japan has been pretty generous to foot US bill, from first Iraq war to second Iraq war. It is funny now those americans are crying foul for Japanese. Total nonsense.

October 5, 2005 @ 8:58 pm | Comment

One of the main reasons the League of Nations failed was that Japan quit. One of the main reasons the United Nations will fail is because Japan will quit. Scary thought, when you consider the results of the failure of the LofN.

I’m not saying it’s going to happen … but it certainly could. The UN can function without China, but it cannot function without Japan. If the UN becomes wholely ineffective, then we’re back into a situation of international free-for-all.

Now, putting aside knee-jerk Chinese anti-Japanese sentiments for a moment, let’s have a think about what’s best for China’s own self interests. Is it a Japan who is integrated into the international system, and a major contributor to the United Nations? Or a Japan who has withdrawn into itself, to become more xenophobic, and unwilling to rely on the international community to settle disputes? This isn’t a hard one to answer … and China, for her own good, should not take actions that will harm her own long term interests. Imagine, for a moment, Toyota and Mistubishi pumping out tanks, jets and warships instead of cars. Imagine a Japan that has decided that the only way to safeguard her national interests is to secure the resources she needs for herself. Remember what happened to China last time we saw that situation.

There’s an English phrase “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” China’s rabid opposition to Japan’s integration into the international community is a classic example. So … do what feels good, and condemn your future, or bite your tongue and do what needs to be done to secure peace and stability in the Asian region? I know it feels good to stick your head out the window and shout abuse across the yard at the neighbour who’s annoying you … but you have to live next to that neighbour.

October 6, 2005 @ 1:53 am | Comment

Come on, FS#9. The main reason the L of N collapsed wasn’t the withdrawal of Japan. The League didn’t have the US or USSR. Its structure was an absolute shambles. It had no police force but only what a devastated Britain and France could provide (going to sort out the Japanese in the 1930s is a different fish than 2005). There is absolutely no comparison with Japan’s situation now and then, econiomically, militarily, socially, etc etc etc.
In fact, I feel a more withdrawn and isolated Japan plays into China’s hands; less obstacles involved. No one else would dare stand up to China as it asserts its claims to the South China Sea. I mean, no one in Asia chooses Japan over China- not even Taiwan!
Japan simply has no choice but to rely on the international community. Isolation is not an option for one as vulnerable as it is. It doesn’t have another Manchuria to invade.

October 6, 2005 @ 2:47 am | Comment

It is naïve to expect the U.N. to ignore the practical realities of nations that contribute one-fifth of the U.N. budget having the same influence as the tiniest Pacific or Caribbean island state. This is the harsh reality, otherwise, the U.N. will turn into nothing more than a useless talking shop.

I’m not so sure that’s not what’s already happened. Aside from the disproportionate representation financially, the whole structure of the organization is bizarre. Taking a quick look at the Human Rights Commission membership, you find it stocked with third world shithole dictatorships. In the name of egalitarianism, nations like Libya and Sudan get equal weight on the council with decent governments, and there are enough of them to defeat sanctions on human rights violations. After all, if they were to condemn Sudan for the genocide there, they might have to be responsible for some of their own dirty laundry. Good piece, but you could probably write 50 similar and only scratch the surface of the rot at the UN.

October 6, 2005 @ 4:36 am | Comment

I see what you’re saying Sam, the recent oil-for-food program opened a can of very ugly and corrupt worms. One of worms being Annan’s own son. Nice.

Both U.N. and U.S. committees investigated the scandal and put forward a load of recommendations to prevent it happening again. However, the General Assembly refused to include them in the final reform document. Nice.

They also chickened out clearly defining terrorism (as they didn’t want to offend anyone) and, as you say, they also refused to abolish the current U.N. Human Rights Commission, i.e. the same commission that currently boasts the Sudan and Libya among its members. Nice.

Henry Hyde is certainly not alone in Congress when he calls for massive cuts in U.S. contributions unless reforms are agreed by the U.N. Hyde can easily attach the U.N. cuts bill to the next Defense Department request for funds which would make it nigh impossible to defeat.

October 6, 2005 @ 6:02 am | Comment

FSN9’s right. Japan certainly doesn’t need the international community, it’s the other way around. Does anyone, even for a second, think that China would happily hand over almost 20% of the UN budget and receive the same as Grenada or Tonga or Estonia in return? No way Jose. China would insist on running the bloody thing.

Why, then should Japan? Where does it say that Japan should bankroll everything? As it’s already one of the biggest doners of international aid and pays 19% towards the U.N. it’s paying twice.

Keir, re nobody in Asia choosing Japan over China, try Thailand AND Taiwan.

October 6, 2005 @ 6:10 am | Comment

Martyn, you do realize that ironically, the United States does pay approximately 20% of the UN’s operating budget and pretty much does insist on running the bloody thing already. With that said, no one has ever demanded that Japan bankroll the UN. No one has a gun pointed at the finance ministry demanding money. The Japanese have been paying more than their share because they have been hoping to gain more international influence.

Regarding the filthy stinker, I’m going to have to second Keir, the withdraw of Japan had did not cause the league’s collapse but rather was a manifestation of its own internal problems. The league did not contain some of the major powers of the day as Keir noted, nor did it have the neccessary enforcement mechanisms. The league did not fail when Japan left, it failed when Japan started invading her neighbors and no one could do anything about it.

Regarding the possibilities of a future militaristic Japan, I tend to disagree with the dire warnings of Chinese politicians. I believe that as long as the present U.S. Japan security arrangement remains intact, that Japan will never seriously pursue an independent and expansionary foreign policy. Japan of 2005 is not that of 1935, on the other hand neither is China. If you believe that any conflicted future is going to be a repeat of world war 2, you have another thing coming. China has never obstructed Japan’s integration into the global community, nor has it attempted to interfere with Japan’s access to industrial resources. China is on the other hand purposefully opposing Japan’s bid at the security council for a myriad of reasons. I should also point out that China is not actually alone in this, I’ve said this for a while now but it bears repeating, that security council reform would fail. The Group of 4’s bid eventually didn’t even come up to a vote if I remember correctly, killed in committee. Despite the professions of support to one nation or another, none of the present security council members particularly want to share their influence and ultimately even the U.S. which had publically supported Japan’s bid, helped axe any attempts at reform.

October 6, 2005 @ 6:51 am | Comment

Hi Jing

First para: disagree that US runs the UN. For instance, it wouldn’t have had to invade Iraq without UN sanction if it ran the thing. Nor would UN-US relations be at rock bottom at the moment if the US ran the thing. Ask your average American, like Sam, about the UN and see if he/she thinks that the US run it. France would have a fit!

Final para: Strongly agree.

Anyway, is oil-rich Russia and economic juggernaut China going to pay more to rthe U.N.?

After all, China *whoosh* has another manned space rocket going up next week. Sounds like it has money to burn….literally.

October 6, 2005 @ 7:21 am | Comment

BTW Jing, liked your Fee Fi Fo Fum piece on Those Who Dare. Sound.

October 6, 2005 @ 7:22 am | Comment

The US runs the UN? News to me.

That explains why the US was so successful in getting UN approval for its Iraq invasion…

That explains why the US was kicked off the UN Commision on Human Rights…

That explains why UNESCO is a hotbed of pro-American and pro-Western sentiment…

That explains why the UN does the US’s will at defining terrorism and loving US allies like Israel…

October 6, 2005 @ 3:22 pm | Comment

“The Japanese have been paying more than their share because they have been hoping to gain more international influence.”

And since that bid has apparently failed, do you see any reason they should continue, as they say, throwing good money in after bad?

October 6, 2005 @ 3:24 pm | Comment

Strongly support your comments johnny, especially the question of why Japan should pay to support an institution with China (flagrantly treating the UN decaration it itself signed up to upon joining as you yourself pointed out) in the driving seat.

October 7, 2005 @ 3:36 am | Comment

Saying that the US runs the UN is typical paranoid Chinese thinking. According to Mainland China, the entire world is against them and tries to keep it down and all the international organizations are all in cahoots with the US and Europe.

Stop being paranoid!

Johnny K makes a excellent point.

October 7, 2005 @ 8:03 am | Comment

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