The Long-Awaited Day Has Finally Come True

Japan signs up to the ICC

, by Akira Takagi

The Long-Awaited Day Has Finally Come True

On July 17, 2007, World Day for International Justice, the Japanese government formally deposited its instrument of accession to the Rome Statute of the ICC. Japanese Ambassador to the UN Kenzo Oshima handed over the instrument to Nicholas Michel, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Council and Annebeth Rosenboom, UN Treaty Section Chief. Thus, the Rome Statute came into effect for Japan in October this year.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was born out of the need to reflect on the scourge of two world wars during the first half of the 21st century. The international community contemplated a mechanism to bring to justice those individuals who commit serious international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. In order to establish a fair and effective mechanism to address these individuals, regardless of them being perpetrators or their superiors, the international community came to a consensus to adopt the Rome Statute for the establishment of the ICC in 1998.

The Rome Statute came into force in 2002 when 60 ratifications were achieved. Then, eighteen distinguished judges were selected with careful consideration given to regional and gender proportionality. The Court is currently engaged in diligent investigations on four situations, of which the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has culminated to a decision to hold the first trial against Mr. Thomas Lubanga Dyiro. We must recognize this as an important development signifying the eradication of the Culture of impunity and the giving birth, instead, to a “Culture of responsibility”.

The ICC will be instrumental in Japan’s national Human Security policy, one of our fundamental foreign policies.

The ICC will be instrumental in Japan’s national Human Security policy, one of our fundamental foreign policies. The Court’s associate institutions, such as the Trust Fund for Victims, would provide a meaningful reference in the search for a new criminal justice system in Japan, that would incorporate the new practice of providing redress for victims in criminal proceedings.

We strongly expect our government to continue with its support in the development of the Court after its accession, through financial and human-resources contribution as well as by joining the Agreement on Privileges and Impunities of the Court, known as the APIC. We also expect that our government would set an example in promoting universal ratification in Asia so as to reinforce the support for the Court in the Asian region, which is least represented in the Court’s executive structure.

Last but not least, the Japanese government should prepare itself to actively participate and contribute in various dialogues concerning the Crime of Aggression, which is to be discussed in the coming review conferences on the Rome Statute. In doing so, the government should seek consultation with the civil society so as to better facilitate its preparation for many years to come.

This article was originally published in the November 2007 edition of The Federalist Debate, Papers for Federalists in Europe and the World.

Image: Accession of Japan to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, H. E. Mr. Kenzo Oshima, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative of Japan, 17 July 2007; source: United Nations Treaty Collection

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