(CNSNews.com) - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has urged Japan to continue paying its UN dues despite increasing frustration in the Asian nation that it does not have a permanent seat on the Security Council.
Annan was in Japan last week meeting with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and other lawmakers.
In a speech at United Nations University following meetings with members of Parliament, Annan said that the country would be a "worthy member" of the Council and acknowledged Japan's "growing frustration" at being denied a seat.
He also responded to Japanese critics who have urged the nation to withhold its UN dues until it is given a seat, saying, "This would be counterproductive and unworthy of Japan's high standing in the world. . . . I would counsel patience instead."
Japan contributed almost $208 million to the UN this year, an amount that represents 20 percent of its operating budget - second only to the U.S.
The Security Council was set up in 1945 with five permanent members who had veto power - the U.S., Britain, France, the U.S.S.R., and nationalist China - and 10 other member nations elected to two-year terms.
Since that time, Taiwan has been replaced by mainland China, Communism has fallen, and the two European powers have became less dominant on the world scene. And yet the basic structure of the Council has remained intact, a fact that nations in Africa, Asia, and Europe want changed - including removing veto power from permanent members.
Annan told Japanese lawmakers that the Council "represents the realities of 1945 and should be transformed into a more representative, democratic and effective body. . . . Such a reform would have to take into account today's realities, including the role played by Japan in international politics"
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan favors reforming the Security Council, but his spokesperson told CNSNews.com "he has zero control over how it happens."
"It has to be decided by member states," said Jessica Jiji, Annan's spokesperson. "It's incredibly complex. For example, Africa wants increased representation, and Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa will all say that they deserve a seat. So the question is, what kind of formula can be arrived at that will be acceptable to all countries?"
The U.S. government favors giving Japan and Germany permanent seats on the Security Council, and adding three seats to be rotated among nations from Asia, Africa, and Latin and South America.
Debates over nations withholding their dues are complicated by more than $1 billion in dues owed to the UN by the United States, which has become a contentious issue between the White House and Congress in budget debates.