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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 14:53 03/09/2007
News Review #195: February 25, 2004

Annan hails Japan's role in Iraq

Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE

"Annan hails Japan's role in Iraq"


Everyone knows a governmental organization is a money-gobbler. Then, it is easy to assume one of the largest international organizations, the UN, needs a lot of money to run. And who provides the money? It's the US and JAPAN!

The list of assessed contribution to the UN shows that the top of the line is the US, at 22.0%, and Japan next, at 19.5%. The runner-up is Germany, at 8.7%, UK at 6.1%, and then France at 6.0%. The rest of 180 or so countries each provide 4% or less, notably China at 2.1%, and Russia at 1.1%, both happens to be permanent members of the Security Council with veto powers, vested only to five states in the whole UN structure.

It would seem natural, then, for ordinary Japanese people, to expect Japan to have some say in the activities of the UN, since, after all, the money given to the UN originates from the taxes people had paid out of earnings through hard work.

In any case, for the first time in history, a UN Secretary General addressed the Japanese Diet on 24th. Kofi Annan said, "You have pledged to contribute generously to reconstruction. And after a difficult debate, you have dispatched the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to Samawah to help with reconstruction and humanitarian assistance."

This may not sound much as a casual conversation, but considering the circumstances, including the protocols observed in such occasions, it is understood as Mr Annan's genuine commendation toward the actions taken by Japan on Iraqi affairs.

The endorsement by the Secretary General on the present government's policy was a tough blow to those against Japan sending a team of Self Defense Force to Iraq. One of the major reasons for the dissidents was that the dispatch of SDF was not a part of international cooperation, which should be initiated by the UN and not by one or a small group of countries. In fact, there were many who said they would support the dispatch itself if a support were obtained from the international community.

It has been reported that the Liberal Party, the largest opposition led by Mr Kan, which has been fiercely challenging the Koizumi administration for sending the SDF without the endorsement of the international community, is hastily trying to reorganize its tactics in the face of Mr Annan's address.

Of course, Mr Annan's words are not the same as a resolution of the UN. But the address by the Secretary General at this juncture may, if slightly, calm the harsh political atmosphere caused by the insecure feeling of how Japan's actions are perceived by those without self-righteous biases of individual countries.

And, as for the balance between Japan's contribution to the UN and returns receiving from it, Mr Annan's words seemed to have been received with satisfaction, for now at least, when he expressed sympathy by saying, "I share your disappointment that talks on reforming the Security Council have gone on for so long with so little progress."

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