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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Japan submits plan to level U.N. dues


Staff writer

Japan proposed to the United Nations on Friday that the five permanent U.N. Security Council members shoulder a minimum of 3 percent or 5 percent of the total U.N. budget, a concept that would force China and Russia to pay more to support the international organization.

Japanese diplomats submitted the proposal to a U.N. committee Thursday evening New York time, Foreign Ministry officials in Tokyo said Friday.

In its proposal, Japan argued that the lower limit for the five -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia -- should be set at either 3 percent or 5 percent.

China currently shoulders 2 percent while Russia covers 1.1 percent of the tab, based on a 2000 agreement setting the contributions of U.N. member countries that calculates share based on such factors as gross national income.

Permanent members of the Security Council should shoulder burdens that match "their position, responsibility and power," said a Foreign Ministry official who briefed reporters in Tokyo.

Japan, which has long demanded a permanent seat on the powerful UNSC, is currently obliged to pay 19.5 percent of the U.N. budget, a figure second only to the U.S., which contributes 22 percent. Germany is third, footing 8.7 percent of the bill, followed by Britain with 6.1 percent and France with 6 percent.

U.N. members will soon start negotiations to decide on the financial burden shares for the period spanning 2007 to 2009 by the end of the year.

Russia, which had learned of Japan's proposal in advance through informal channels, has already expressed opposition to the idea, issuing a statement earlier in the week that said it runs contrary to the U.N. principle of equality.

Japan also proposed that burden shares be recalculated annually every year to reflect data showing each country's economic conditions in the most recent three years. If the proposals are realized, Japan's burden in 2007 would be reduced to 15.7 percent if the lower limit for the Security Council members is set at 3 percent, and to 14.8 percent if the limit is at 5 percent, according to Foreign Ministry estimates.



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