Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, visiting Japan from 21 to 25 February, met with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on 23 February and praised Japan's contribution to the reconstruction of Iraq, particularly its dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces. Secretary-General Annan also disclosed, in response to Prime Minister Koizumi's request that the United Nations become more involved in the reconstruction process, that although there would still be some restrictions based on safety concerns, he thought the United Nations was ready to once again take on a more active role. In regards to elections in Iraq, the Secretary-General declared that he felt it imperative to quickly begin preparations to have them by the end of this year or early next year. The two world leaders also exchanged opinions on such topics as United Nations reform, the issue of North Korea and others.
On 24 February, Secretary-General Annan addressed the Diet, Japan's national assembly, for the first time, again praising Japan's contribution to the reconstruction effort in Iraq and particularly its dispatch of SDF personnel to assist in humanitarian activities. Secretary-General Annan also sympathized with the "impatience" many Japanese feel with regard to the UN, due to the "anachronistic 'enemy' clauses of the UN Charter, and [the] feeling of being simultaneously over-assessed for the regular budget and under-represented in the ranks of the Secretariat", but pleaded for Japan not to retreat from its "committment to multilateralism and its global leadership". Secretary-General Annan noted Japan's indispensable contributions in the field of health, education and the environment, as well as to the UN's political, peacekeeping and human rights efforts, and expressed his hope that the dual problems of Security Council reform and the inequality between Japan's assessment rates and its representation in the Secretariat would be resolved in the near future.
Visit to Japan by Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Prime Minister Meets with Secretary-General of the United Nations
The Secretary-General's Address to the Japanese Parliament (UN News Centre)