English>Statements and Opinions>Statements>Resolution Calling for Japan's Proactive Involvement in the International Criminal Court

Resolution Calling for Japan's Proactive Involvement in the International Criminal Court

The establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has now become a reality. The Rome Statute, which provides for the establishment of the ICC, will enter into force in July of this year, having received the 60 ratifications necessary for its entry into force.


The ICC is a permanent and independent institution is with the purpose that independent prosecutors at the court prosecute individual perpetrators for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes and equally independent judges adjudicate based on evidence. The Rome Statute, which establishes the ICC, was adopted with overwhelming majority at the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court in 1998, in spite of strong opposition from the United States. To date, sixty-seven states have ratified the Statute. Since State Parties have therefore reached the required number of sixty, the Statute will enter into force in July of this year. The ICC is scheduled to be established early next year in The Hague, the Netherlands. The Japanese government to date has neither signed nor ratified the Rome Statute, and continues to turn its back on the establishment of the ICC.

The ICC is aimed at applying criminal law and justice over persons responsible for serious violations of human rights committed mostly in conjunction with armed conflict. In so doing, the court seeks to end repetitious atrocities committed with impunity, and cycles of violence and reprisals, thereby deterring these grave crimes. It is hoped that the ICC will serve in the role of a new international system to effectively deal with repeated instances of grievous human rights violations committed in present-day armed conflicts and ethnic strife. International juridical institutions prior to the ICC include the International Court of Justice, which in principle is a body to settle disputes between states that are not of criminal nature, and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda established by the United Nations Security Council. By comparison, the ICC differs from previous international judicial institutions because it seeks to try individual perpetrators in criminal procedure for acts of international crimes, and because it is established based on a treaty as an independent and permanent dedicated judicial institution.


The necessity of the ICC has newly increased in importance, prompted by the terror attacks on September 11, 2001 and the worldwide military action that ensued. It is because while broadening acceptance of military force exercised in the name of counter terrorism, and the spreading of legislation which may curb political and civil rights of the unrelated public, ways to deter crimes and to implement justice without resorting to the mentioned means are sought for. 

In Japan, too, the Act on Special Measures against Terrorism and the amendment of the Self-Defense Force Law were implemented immediately after the terror attacks of September 2001. Additionally, the Japanese government currently has submitted to the Diet the bill on "National Emergency Legislation," determining the range of action and limits of power for Japan's Self-Defense Forces and United States Armed Forces stationed in Japan, based on scenarios envisaging both armed attack and the situation prior to armed attack.


Responding to these developments, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) has expressed its concerns through the following statement and declarations: "Statement on the Japanese Government's Draft Act on Special Measures against Terrorism" and "President's Statement on the Draft Bill for the Law Concerning the Partial Amendment of the Self-Defense Force Law" (October 12, 2001), as well as the "Board's Resolution Concerning the Submission of the Bill on 'National Emergency Legislation' to the Current Diet Session" (dated March 15, 2002) and most recently the “Board’s Resolution Against the Bill on ‘National Emergency Legislation'" (April 20, 2002). Through these expressions of its opinion, the JFBA has pointed out that the Bill on ‘National Emergency Legislation' threatens constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights, the principle of peace, and democratic governance structures. At the same time, with respect to anti-terror measures invoked by the Government as a pretext for this legislation, the JFBA demanded that the international community of nations take joint action, and based on the UN Charter and international law, identify perpetrators and their organizations, and confront crime with impartial judiciary in an international tribunal ("Statement on the Japanese Government's Draft Act on Special Measures against Terrorism"). The Federation holds that Japan, instead of rushing to adopt the Bill on "National Emergency Legislation" to counter against international crimes with force should firmly take a stance of dealing with these crimes with impartial judiciary by establishing the international criminal justice system, and thereby deterring such crimes.


Based on the above, the JFBA is convinced that the government of Japan should not hasten the adoption of the Bill on "National Emergency Legislation."  It should rather take immediately steps to accede the Rome Statute and seek proactive involvement in the establishment of an international criminal justice system, including the establishment of the ICC already under way at the international level.


The JFBA therefore resolves as laid down in the foregoing.


Toru Motobayashi
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
June 21, 2002 
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