Japan to push for lower UN dues as hope dims for Security Council seat, report says

Japan wants lower United Nations contributions starting from 2007 amid dimming hope for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, a news report said Sunday.

Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura will outline Japan's request for a financial review at the U.N. General Assembly session scheduled to start Sept. 19, the Yomiuri newspaper said, citing government sources it didn't identify.

After the United States, Japan is the second-largest U.N. contributor, pumping in $346.4 million this year, or nearly 20 percent of the U.N. budget. Japanese leaders believe public support for the outlays will fade if Tokyo can't win the permanent council seat is has strongly lobbied for.

The government plans to formally submit a resolution to the United Nations in the spring demanding a review of contribution ratios, the Yomiuri said. Japan will suggest that dues paid by permanent Security Council members, other than the United States, be raised to match their status, along with a request that its own contributions be lowered.

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson was unavailable for comment early Sunday.

Japan's attempt win a position lost steam over the summer when an attempt to strike a compromise on U.N. reform between the Japan-backed Group of Four and the so-called African Union fizzled.

Japan and the other G4 members _ Brazil, Germany and India _ wanted to add six permanent seats to the council, without veto power. They had hoped for support from African countries, but the African bloc stuck with their own demand for two veto-wielding permanent seats.

Japan has lavished millions on General Assembly members in hopes of winning votes for their cause. Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura even dashed off to Washington for quick talks with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to shore up American support.

Japan also won backing last month from seven Central American countries after promising millions of dollars in aid, AP reported.

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