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    UN Security Council reform again

    Another reason to wonder what the PRC thinks about the Koizumi administration’s landslide last week is UN Security Council reform, which has been in the news less frequently than before but is still a current issue:

    Koizumi, fresh off a landslide victory for his Liberal Democratic Party in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, urged U.N. member nations to work toward a quick decision on an expanded council during the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

    “Asia and Africa, once under the shackles of colonialism, are now significant players in our global economy. For the last 60 years, Japan has determinedly pursued a course of development as a peace-loving nation,” Koizumi said Thursday. “The composition of the Security Council must reflect these fundamental changes.”

    The Security Council currently has 15 members. Ten are elected for two-year terms and five permanent members–the United States, Britain, Russia, China and France–have veto power.

    Japan has argued that, as the second-largest U.N. contributor after the United States, it deserves a U.N. role more commensurate with its status as the world’s second-largest economy.

    Japan is contributing US$346.4 million (€281.31 million) this year, nearly 20 percent of the U.N. general budget.

    Japanese officials said Thursday they want to open talks next year on paying less–a move that could spur a drawn-out battle with fellow member states.

    I’m sure there are people with sincere, high-minded ideas about the “global community” who will find such thinking crass and utterly abominable. Personally, I find it crass and utterly understandable. Whatever you believe its role should ideally be, the UN of reality serves as an influence-peddling bureaucratic machine of globe-buggering dimensions. If Japan is disgorging enough money to cover 20% (20%!) of its general budget, why would it not expect to be in the choicest possible positions to take advantage of the action?


    Speaking of wastes of money, if you’re sick of the grandiloquent, undersubscribed industrial park you currently own, Osaka Prefecture may be in a position to help:

    A 65 billion-yen high-rise is being sold in the bargain basement-at a 93 percent discount.

    The 56-story Rinku Gate Town Building opened as a semi-public project in 1996 in southern Osaka Prefecture.

    After nine years of losses, it will be sold for a mere 4.5 billion yen, under a plan to rehabilitate its debt-laden operator, partly owned by Osaka Prefecture.

    The building was constructed in a waterfront development project that is directly connected by rail and roadway to Kansai International Airport on a manmade island in Osaka Bay.

    The office and hotel complex in Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, will be sold to a consortium led by Shinsei Bank for 7 percent of its construction cost.

    That will leave a multibillion yen debt with the Osaka prefectural government and local corporate investors-shareholders of the building operator-as well as creditor banks.

    According to the rehabilitation plan, the failed Rinku Gate Tower Building Co. will ask creditor banks to forgive 39 billion yen in debt from construction costs.

    Osaka Prefecture will be asked to give up 2.2 billion yen it loaned for operating costs.

    When other costs are included, the bill for the prefectural government will likely total about 6 billion yen in the next decade.

    Oh, too bad. Shinsei Bank beat you to it. Well, at least you’re not the Osaka Prefectural Government. Or its taxpayers.

    Added: I guess I should point out, before someone does it for me, that that last line is a nice parting shot but is somewhat misleading. The government money that financed the building probably came partially from the Ministry of Construction (which doesn’t exist as an individual entity anymore) and may also have come partially from FILP, which was funded by postal savings and insurance deposits. In other words, not only didn’t it all come from Osaka, it probably didn’t all come from taxes–though, of course, the citizenry ended up paying for it somehow.

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