Japan withholds UNESCO payment

Tokyo annoyed by UN body’s registration last year of thousands of documents relating to Nanjing Massacre in World War II

Japan withholds UNESCO payment

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Japanese government’s decision to withhold its annual UNESCO contribution over what Tokyo considers political meddling could leave a pretty big hole in the agency’s operating budget.

Tokyo has in the past been a mainstay of the organization, which among other things preserves sites of historical or cultural value. It provides nearly 9.6 percent of the operating budget.

Considering that the United States cut off its share -- 22 percent -- in 2011, the total shortage represents nearly one third of the budget. Washington stopped paying after Palestine was permitted to join.

Tokyo is annoyed with the United Nations body because last year it registered thousands of documents relating to the Nanjing Massacre in World War II as part of its Memory of the World project.

The Japanese government complained that the UN “unilaterally” registered the documents without allowing them to have a chance to challenge or verify some of the conclusions.

The purported bloodbath that followed the Imperial Army’s capture of the Chinese capital in 1937 continues to roil relations in Asia.

Many conservatives in Japan maintain that the massacre did not occur or that the commonly accepted figure of 300,000 deaths is greatly exaggerated.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s official spokesman, told reporters that he would adopt a wait and see position on the matter.

A foreign ministry official told the Asahi Shimbun, “we will make an appropriate judgment after scrutinizing details of the UNESCO program.”

Japan has also withheld its contribution to the restoration of the Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Meanwhile, another controversy is looming over Japanese behavior during World War II.

Chinese and Korean activists have assembled 2,700 documents relating to the so-called “comfort women” issue, which it wants to register with the Memory of the World Program.

“Comfort women” is the term given to women, now in their late 80s and 90s, who were conscripted to serve in Imperial Army brothels.

Conservatives in Japan deny there was such a systematic program or that the women were forced to participate.

Japan, on the whole, is an enthusiastic supporter of UN programs, especially the preservation of historical sites.

UNESCO recognizes 16 cultural and four natural World Heritage Sites in Japan.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Ekim 2016, 12:26