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July 25, 2003

Footing the Bill for U.N. Uni.

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has demanded that the central government shoulder about 860 million yen needed annually to host the United Nations University in Tokyo, Foreign Ministry sources said Thursday. Ishihara made the request to the Foreign Ministry in January by letter, saying it is irrational that the Tokyo metropolitan government has rented the facility free of charge and paid other costs of the university's research facility in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward, the sources said.

Negotiations on the issue are likely to be tough, as the two sides both have financial troubles, the sources said. "The metropolitan government was active in attracting the university by promising to lend the facility free of charge," a Foreign Ministry official said. "It is inappropriate to break the promise now. Such a demand will also influence other local governments that host U.N. facilities."

The facility is for the Institute of Advanced Studies of the university. The five-floor facility, which opened in 1996 near the main building of the university, houses about 40 researchers and officials. Of the 860 million yen, the annual rent is about 730 million yen and the rest involves running costs including electricity, the sources said.

U Thant, the third secretary general of the United Nations, proposed the idea of building the university in 1969. Japan's prime minister at the time, Eisaku Sato, attracted the university to Tokyo. When the university, headquartered in Tokyo in 1975, was moved to Jingumae in Shibuya Ward in 1992, the Japanese government constructed the main building and the metropolitan government provided the land, about 7,000 square meters, free of charge. (Kyodo News)

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