Japan regards international cooperation within the United Nations (UN) framework as a basic foreign policy principle. When Japan joined the UN in 1956, it did so with great enthusiasm and broad public support, for the international organization was seen to embody the pacifist country's hopes for a peaceful world order. Membership was welcomed by many Japanese who saw the UN as a guarantor of a policy of unarmed neutrality for their nation. To others, support for the UN would be useful in masking or diluting Japan's almost total dependence on the United States for its security. The government saw the UN as an ideal arena for its riskminimizing , omnidirectional foreign policy.
After the late 1950s, Japan participated actively in the social and economic activities of the UN's various specialized agencies and other international organizations concerned with social, cultural, and economic improvement. During the 1970s, as it attained the status of an economic superpower, Japan was called on to play an increasingly large role in the UN. As Japan's role increased and its contributions to UN socioeconomic development activities grew, many Japanese began to ask whether their country was being given an international position of responsibility commensurate with its economic power. There was even some sentiment, expressed as early as 1973, that Japan should be given a permanent seat on the UN Security Council with the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, France, and China.
By 1990 Japan's international cooperation efforts had reached a new level of involvement and activism. Japan contributed about 11 percent of the regular UN budget, second only to the United States, which contributed 25 percent. Japan was particularly active in UN peacekeeping activities and in 1989, for the first time, sent officials to observe and participate in UN peacekeeping efforts (in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Namibia). Japan sent a small team to observe the February 1990 elections in Nicaragua. In 1992-93 Japan led UN supervision of the peace process and elections in Cambodia, providing approximately 2,000 people, which included members of the SDF.
|Country Studies main page | Japan Country Studies main page|