World Bulletin / News Desk
Japan's top diplomat confirmed Thursday that Tokyo has paid its dues to UNESCO that were withheld after the United Nations body registered documents relating to the Nanjing Massacre in World War II as part of its Memory of the World project.
After the thousands of documents submitted by China were registered last year, the Japanese government had complained that the UN conducted the move “unilaterally” without allowing them to have a chance to challenge or verify some of the conclusions.
The purported bloodbath that followed the Imperial Army’s capture of the Chinese capital in 1937 continues to roil relations in Asia.
Many conservatives in Japan maintain that the massacre did not occur or that the commonly accepted figure of 300,000 deaths is greatly exaggerated.
Kyodo news agency reported Thursday that Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that Japan paid its obligatory dues of around 3.85 billion yen ($32.7 million) to UNESCO earlier this week, after it noted “improvements” in the screening process for the program at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
"We believe it represents big progress that work has been done to review the system" regarding registration for Memory of the World, Kishida said.
Tokyo has in the past been a mainstay of UNESCO, which among other things preserves sites of historical or cultural value. It provides nearly 9.6 percent of the operating budget.
Considering that the United States cut off its share -- 22 percent -- in 2011, the total shortage represents nearly one third of the budget. Washington stopped paying after Palestine was permitted to join.
The stepped-up battle to protect heritage requires significant resources that will only increase, said UNESCO director Irina Bokova, who spoke at the council's public briefing in support of the resolution.
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