The Strategist

Japan and Israel freeze cooperation with UNESCO

10/14/2016 - 16:11

Japan has suspended funding for UNESCO. This was confirmed on Friday by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Tokyo’s decision is associated with the inclusion of documents on events of 1937 in the Chinese city of Nanjing in the World Heritage List of UNESCO. Then Japanese soldiers killed, according to Beijing, about 300 thousand Chinese. The Israeli authorities added fuel to the fire. The country ceased cooperation with UNESCO due to adoption of a resolution, which refers to special connection of Islam with Jerusalem, with no mention of rights of Jews to the holy sites of the city.

Andréia Bohner
Andréia Bohner
"We refrain from our contribution (in 2016), - said Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at a press conference. -This decision is based on a comprehensive assessment of various factors." Japan was the largest sponsor of UNESCO after the US froze funding in 2011 in protest against Palestinian membership in the organization. Tokyo’s annual contribution amounted to 4.4 billion yen ($ 42 million), which, according to various estimates, is 9.6% to 10.8% of the organization’s total budget.

Head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry promised to "thoroughly" consider funding of UNESCO. Tokyo want to make sure that the organization really "stands for peace and trust between member states". Recall that a country that does not pay its contribution within two years automatically loses the right to vote at the General Conference of UNESCO. 

Reason for the demarche has not been stated officially. However, experts attributed the incident to the fact that in October last year UNESCO included documents on the Nanjing massacre of 1937 in the list of World Heritage Site. The massacre became one of the most horrific episodes of the Japanese aggression in China. Japanese authorities admit that many perished", but argued that the exact figure cannot be determined. Some Japanese historians speak of "a few hundred killed", but most agree on figures from 20 th. to 40 th. people. China says the death toll was more than 300 thousand.

At the same time, UNESCO was faced with another wave of criticism from the Israeli authorities. On Thursday, UNESCO's executive committee voted in favor of a resolution, which refers to the special connection of Islam with Jerusalem, with no mention of rights of Jews to holy sites of the city. The resolution provoked an angry reaction from authorities of Israel and the Jewish community. 

On Friday morning, it was announced that Israel stopped cooperation with UNESCO due to adoption of the controversial resolution. According to Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the organization "ignored thousands of years of Jewish connection to Jerusalem" and sided with the "Islamic terror".