National / Politics

Japan to sink to third-largest contributor to U.N. as China rises

Kyodo

Japan will fall from being the second-largest contributor to the United Nations’ general budget to third place starting next year as China gets set to surpass it, according to diplomats.

China’s contribution will rise to 12.01 percent while Japan’s will fall to 8.56 percent for the 2019 to 2021 period, according to the new scale agreed on by U.N. members, which will formally adopted by the General Assembly, possibly Saturday.

“According to the new scale of assessments initially agreed upon, starting from 2019, China will become the second-largest financial contributor to the U.N.’s regular budget,” a Chinese delegate said after the committee decision. “For a developing country with about a 1.4 billion population, this is not a small amount.”

The shift may fuel fears in Tokyo that the country’s aspiration to become a new permanent member of a revamped U.N. Security Council could fall out of reach.

For the 2016 to 2018 period, the scale of assessments adopted for China was 7.921 percent, while Japan paid almost 2 percentage points more at 9.680 percent.

Every three years, U.N. member countries must approve the so-called “scale of assessments” based on a complex formula that factors in each nation’s gross national income and debt adjustments, among other variables.

Japan’s general budget burden peaked at 20.57 percent in 2000 but has since been declining. The United States, which has been the No. 1 contributor since the inception of the United Nations, will remain in the top spot for the next three-year period at 22 percent.

Germany, with its 6.090 percent contribution to the body’s general budget, comes in fourth place followed by Britain at 4.567 percent and France at 4.427 percent.

The scale of assessments is determined by a number of factors, including the “most current, comprehensive and comparable data” available for gross national income.

However, other variables such as conversion rates and debt-burden adjustments are also factored into the determination of how much each country will pay into the budget for the world body.

Debates to restructure the Security Council have gone on for decades with little apparent progress despite Japan’s push for itself along with Germany, Brazil and India to become permanent seat holders.

The Group of Four is at loggerheads with another bloc called Uniting for Consensus, which includes such states as Pakistan, Italy, South Korea and Argentina.

Meanwhile, the African Group has been pressing to add African nations as new permanent and nonpermanent seat holders, arguing they have long been underrepresented.

The latest agreement for the general budget followed a similar change in the rankings for funding peacekeeping operations. Beginning in 2016, Japan slipped to third place behind China and the United States, the top contributor.

Meanwhile, a U.S. representative expressed dissatisfaction with the new calculations for the peacekeeping budget for the 2019 to 2021 period, as the U.S. administration of President Donald Trump has been pushing hard for reductions.

The U.S. request to have its burden lowered to 25 percent compared with the current more than 28 percent had been rejected in the negotiation process despite intense pressure. The consensus agreement also called on Washington to pay the higher rate.

“For the financial health of the organization, the United States firmly believes that no one member state should pay more than one quarter of the organization’s budget,” the U.S. delegate said.

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