Diplomatic Bluebook 2022

Chapter 3

Japan Strengthening Its Presence in the International Community

5 Japan's Efforts at the United Nations

(1) Japan-UN Relationship

The UN is an international organization that nearly all the countries in the world are currently members of (193 countries as of December 2021). It addresses various challenges in diverse areas such as conflict resolution and peacebuilding, counter-terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, poverty and development, human rights, refugee issues, environment and climate change issues, disaster risk reduction and infectious diseases.

Since joining the UN in 1956, Japan has leveraged on both universality and expertise to realize policy aims through multilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas, including the three pillars of the UN─peace and security, development and human rights. An important example of this is the key role that Japan has fulfilled in the maintenance of international peace and security, such as having served as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council more frequently than any other UN Member State. In order to support such activities, the Government of Japan contributes financially to the UN while also actively engaging in the organizational aspects (management) of the UN. Japan also supports Japanese staff who intend to continue working in the UN, and puts effort into helping them gain appointment to important posts (see Chapter 4, Section 1, 2(1)). Since we face the pressing challenge of making the UN efficient, effective and suitable for the 21st century, Japan continues to proactively engage in UN reform, including UN Security Council reform.

(2) Major Events in 2021

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the High-Level Week of the 76th UN General Assembly was convened in September in a hybrid format, through the screening of pre-recorded speeches and in-person participation. Prime Minister Suga sent a pre-recorded speech, while Foreign Minister Motegi attended the meeting in person.

In his address at the General Debate of the UN General Assenbly, Prime Minister Suga spoke about Japan's vision and contributions toward overcoming the COVID-19 crisis and guiding the world toward a better future. He introduced Japan's efforts to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, and identified four priority areas in order for Japan to guide the world toward a better future: global health systems, decarbonization, building a free and open international order, and peace and security. He expressed that Japan will put active efforts into each area. Last but not least, reffering to the 10-year mark after the Great East Japan Earthquake, he reaffirmed the importance of international coordination and emphasized Japan's resolve to further promote multilateralism.

Prime Minister Suga also participated in four conferences through video messages. At the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) hosted by the U.S., he stated Japan's commitments to reach net-zero by 2050, and expressed that Japan will exert its leadership in addressing climate change. At the SDG Moment 2021, Prime Minister Suga emphasized that Japan will do its utmost toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and creating a hopeful future. Furthermore, at the Global COVID-19 Summit hosted by the U.S., he introduced Japan's financial contributions to the COVAX facility and vaccine donations, including new pledges. At the same time, he expressed Japan's resolve to lead international efforts toward achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC). At the UN Food Systems Summit, Prime Minister Suga stated that Japan will work toward establishing better global “food systems,” and expressed Japan's determination to host the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit 2021 in December with the participation of a wide range of stakeholders, and to lead international efforts to improve nutrition for people in the world, which has deteriorated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to hosting the Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the G4 Countries on UN Security Council Reform and participating in the G20 Foreign Ministers' Extraordinary Meeting on Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Motegi also held foreign ministers' meetings with the U.S., ROK, UK, France, Russia, Indonesia, Qatar, and Pakistan, and a Japan-U.S.-ROK Foreign Ministers' Meeting. Based on the personal relationships built with his counterparts, Foreign Minister Motegi engaged in diplomacy that strengthens the vision for a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)” and Japan's footing in the international community, and confirmed close cooperation with the international community regarding regional affairs, including North Korea and Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Motegi also conveyed Japan's policies and standpoint to the international community, issuing video messages for the Ministerial Meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism and the 12th Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and co-hosting the High-level Side Event on UHC.

Foreign Minister Motegi also held a meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres. They exchanged views on addressing emerging challenges in the report issued by Secretary-General Guterres in September, titled “Our Common Agenda” (this report contains recommendations on how to address various issues that the international community is confronted by), and concurred on the importance of ensuring that efforts are tied in with the strengthening of human security. With regard to North Korea, Secretary-General Guterres expressed his renewed support for understanding and cooperation toward the early resolution of the abductions issue.

In August, Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives visited Japan ahead of his appointment as the President of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. He paid a courtesy call to Prime Minister Suga, and exchanged opinions with Foreign Minister Motegi on COVID-19, climate change, issues concering North Korea, and UN Security Council reform, inter alia.

In response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine in February 2022 and the exercise of its veto at the UN Security Council, the Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly was convened in March, and the resolution on “Aggression against Ukraine” was adopted with 141 countries voting in favor, including Japan. Japan co-sponsored this resolution, and after its adoption, stated that Japan called on Russia to heed the overwhelming voice of the international community and implement the resolution.

(3) United Nations Security Council and its Reform

A United Nations Security Council

The UN Security Council holds the primary responsibility within the UN for maintaining international peace and security. It is composed of five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members that are elected by UN Member States (for two-year terms). Its agenda covers a wide range of areas, such as settlement of disputes, addressing new threats including proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, peacebuilding and women, peace and security (see the Special Feature on page 233). Along with this, the scope of its activities, such as UN Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) and UN Special Political Missions (SPM), is also growing in diversity.

Japan has been elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council 11 times, more frequently than any other UN Member State, and has contributed proactively to discussions in the Security Council. During its previous term on the Council from January 2016 to the end of December 2017, Japan made every effort to resolve North Korea's nuclear and missile issues, including contributions to drafting the six UN Security Council resolutions adopted in response to North Korea's repeated ballistic missile launches and three nuclear tests conducted in January and September 2016 and September 2017. In addition to working proactively to respond to regional situations including in Africa and the Middle East, Japan has also led discussions toward improving the working methods of the UN Security Council. Furthermore, during its term, Japan contributed to discussions based on the concepts of human security and sustaining peace, to ensure that the UN Security Council addresses issues effectively from the perspectives of international peace and security. At the UN Security Council Briefing on Non-proliferation/Democratic People's Republic of Korea in December 2019, Japan was fully engaged in discussions related to maintaining international peace and security by stating that North Korea's ballistic missile launches were in violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and posed a serious challenge not only for Japan but also for the international community as a whole, as well as calling for the importance of the full implementation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Japan will continue to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security by seeking to become a non-permanent member of the Council as frequently as possible, until such time as reform, including the admission of Japan as a permanent member of the Council, is achieved. From this point of view, Japan is running for the Security Council non-permanent membership at the elections to be held in 2022.

B Reform of the UN Security Council

75 years have passed since the UN was established, and the structure of the international community has changed significantly while the UN's functions have grown increasingly diverse. Despite this, the composition of the UN Security Council has largely remained unchanged to this day. In response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine in February 2022, a resolution that deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by Russia was put to a vote in the UN Security Council. However, it was not adopted as Russia exercised its veto. Consequently, the UN Security Council was unable to take a coordinated response. This clearly shows that the UN Security Council cannot adequately fulfill the functions expected by the international community today. There is broad recognition among the international community of the necessity for promptly reforming the UN Security Council in a way that improves its legitimacy, effectiveness and representativeness. In particular, in the Declaration on the Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations, all the leaders of the world committed to “instill new life in the discussions on the reform of the Security Council.”

To play an even more proactive role toward the realization of world peace and security through the UN, Japan has been making efforts to convince other countries to pursue the early realization of UN Security Council reform, with the expansion of both permanent and non-permanent seats and Japan's admission as a permanent member.

C Recent Activities Regarding UN Security Council Reform

Since 2009, in the UN General Assembly, Member States have been engaging in the Intergovernmental Negotiations on UN Security Council reform. In 2021, the Intergovernmental Negotiations were held once a month from January till May. At the end of June, the decision for the 76th session to role over the work of the 75th session was adopted by consensus at the UN General Assembly, including the content “instill new life in the discussions on the reform of the Security Council.” In November, President Shahid of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly reappointed the Permanent Representative of Qatar to the UN, and newly appointed the Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN as co-chairs of the Intergovernmental Negotiations. The spotlight will be placed on how future discussions will progress under the new system.

Japan also places great importance on its initiatives as a member of the G4 (Japan, India, Germany and Brazil), a group that cooperates on promoting UN Security Council reform. Foreign Minister Motegi hosted the Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the G4 countries in September in conjunction with the High-Level Week of the UN General Assembly. At the meeting, the G4 Foreign Ministers shared their current understanding on the reform of the UN security Council, exchanged views on their collective efforts to bring about concrete progress on the reform, and reaffirmed their solidarity and resolve as the G4. The G4 Foreign Ministers also agreed to support the President of the General Assembly so as to see progress in the Intergovernmental Negotiations. The G4 Foreign Ministers expressed support to the Common African Position and agreed to cooperate to push forward the reform process such as the early commencement of text-based negotiations, while working in cooperation with Africa and other relevant countries. Japan will continue to engage proactively in the process for realizing UN Security Council reform, in close cooperation with reform-oriented countries.

Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the G4 Countries (Japan, India, Germany and Brazil) on UN Security Council Reform (September 22, New York, U.S.)Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the G4 Countries (Japan, India, Germany and Brazil) on UN Security Council Reform
(September 22, New York, U.S.)

UN Security Council – Issues covered by the Security Council, and their Changes

In the United Nations, there is widespread recognition that the global spread of COVID-19 is not only a global health issue, but also a problem that could have an implication on security. Some are also of the view that climate change exacerbates threats to security. Thus, adding to traditional UN security issues such as regional conflicts, disarmament and terrorism, a growing number of problems in recent years have been newly regarded as security issues. In line with this, issues covered by the UN Security Council (UNSC) are also changing. In other words, the UNSC is seeing changes to the scope of “Maintenance of international peace and security,” which is its primary responsibility set out in the United Nations Charter.

Figure 1 Percentage of the agenda of Security Council meetings by geographic region (2021, meetings on regional situations)

Traditional agenda items considered by the UNSC, firstly, include region-specific agenda. Matters related to Africa and the Middle East, including situations in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Mali, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo make up approximately 80% of the agenda. There are also thematic agenda items, which include UN Peacekeeping Operations (PKO), the threat of terrorism, and peacebuilding. Furthermore, when discussing new issues that extend beyond such existing agenda, Members of the UNSC consult on the agenda items to be covered, considering the situation at the time.

Looking at the recent trends for the number of agenda items, while eight to 23 new agenda items were added every year from the 1990s to 2007, since 2008, just less than three agenda items have been added every year.

This is considered to result from a tendency for the UNSC since the 2010s to respond to new issues by adding new sub-items under existing agenda, rather than by increasing the number of new agenda items.

For example, the UNSC has responded to new issues in line with international trends by adding sub-items, such as “Transnational organized crime at sea,” “Climate and security,” and “Implications of COVID-19,” under “Maintenance of international peace and security,” which is one of its thematic agenda items.

Figure 2 Number of UN Security Council meetings by agenda item (2021, only for thematic agenda items)

At the same time, this trend can also be regarded as the result of adjustments within the UNSC in relation to the addition of new agenda items. For example, climate change is covered in the UNSC as a sub-item, “Climate and security,” under the agenda of “Maintenance of international peace and security.” In reality, however, Member States have different views; while some are of the view that climate change itself should be treated as an official agenda item of the UNSC (and not as a sub-item) under the recognition that climate change is a factor that increases the risk of conflicts, others are of the view that the UNSC is not a place for addressing climate change issues. Against the backdrop of such differences in the standpoints of Member States, there is still no UNSC Resolution that deals with climate and security as a main theme.

In cases where Members of the UNSC are unable to reach an accord on the agenda items covered at formal meetings of the Council, procedural vote is undertaken in the UNSC Chamber. Decisions on procedural matters are made by affirmative vote of nine members, regardless of whether they are permanent or non-permanent members. There is a growing number of examples whereby matters that are not official agenda items of the UNSC are addressed in informal fora (such as the Arria-formula Meeting) rather than at formal fora.

From the perspective that it is important for the UNSC to effectively address a wide range of complex contemporary challenges such as climate change, famine, and infectious diseases, Japan took the initiative to hold an Open Debate (official meeting) on “Addressing Complex Contemporary Challenges to International Peace and Security” during its previous term as a member of the UNSC from 2017 to 2018.

Japan is currently running for the election of non-permanent members of the UNSC in 2022. When elected, Japan will further contribute to the maintenance of peace and security as a member of the UNSC, while paying close attention to trends in the international community.

(4) Organizational Aspects of the United Nations (Management)

A Management

In June, when he was reappointed for a second term, UN Secretary-General Guterres demonstrated his recognition of the need for continuous efforts toward reforms in the areas of peace and development, as well as the management of the UN, and stated that he will strengthen the reforms that he has been working on to date. In September, he issued a report titled “Our Common Agenda,” which proposed concrete measures for the UN to adapt to a new era. Through dialogues with member states and the UN Secretariat, Japan is supporting the objectives of the reform with the hope that these efforts will produce concrete results and that the UN will fulfill its mission more effectively and efficiently.

B Budget

The UN budget is mainly composed of the regular budget for general activities (a biennial budget for the period from January to December of the next year; an annual budget from January to December of the same year has been implemented on a trial basis from 2020 to 2022), and the peacekeeping budget related to peacekeeping operations (an annual budget for the period from July to the following June).

With regard to the regular budget, a budget for 2022 amounting to approximately 3.12 billion US dollars was approved in December 2021 at the UN General Assembly. The budget for peacekeeping operations for the period of 2021-2022 amounting to approximately 6.38 billion US dollars in total was approved in June 2021 (a decrease of approximately 3.0% from the final budget of the previous period).33

The budget to support the UN activities is composed of assessed contributions paid by Member States and voluntary contributions provided in accordance with Member States' policy needs. With regard to assessed contributions, Japan currently ranks third after the U.S. and China. Japan contributed approximately 247.72 million US dollars to the UN regular budget for 2021, and approximately 529.26 million US dollars to the peacekeeping budget for 2021/22. As a major financial contributor, Japan has been encouraging the UN to make more efficient and effective use of its financial resources. The scale of assessments, which provides the basis for calculating the amount of assessed contributions, is revised every three years based on the capacities to pay of the Member States. Japan's scale of assessment, revised at the end of 2021, is 8.033% (2022-2024), just behind the U.S. and China.

Key bodies that address administrative and budgetary matters of the UN are the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and the Committee on Contributions. These are standing subsidiary committees of the General Assembly and are comprised of members serving in their personal capacities. The ACABQ reviews the overall administrative and budgetary issues of the UN and makes recommendations to the General Assembly, while the Committee on Contributions submits a proposal on the scale of assessments of the regular budget for a decision to be made by all Member States at the General Assembly. Hence, both committees play an important role. Members from Japan have served continuously on both of these committees.

UN regular budget scale of assessments of top contributors (%)
UN PKO budget scale of assessments of top contributors (%)