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Japan's Prime Minister Expresses Intention to Join International Criminal Court

     Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, expressed his willingness to proceed with the preparations to accede to the Statue of the International Criminal Court (ICC) within the year 2007, during a meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Councilors held on 13 October 2006.
     In response to a question concerning his attitude to the ICC, Prime Minister stated that Japan has provided consistent support to the ICC for the prevention of international crime as well as international peace and security. He went on to say that the relevant ministries and agencies have been involved in the harmonization of national legislation and that he would like to proceed with the accession procedures within the year 2007 with the approval of the Diet.
     The Statute of the ICC (the Rome Statute) came into force in 2002, which led to the establishment of the Court in Hague, the Netherlands, and the appointment of 18 judges from among the nationals of the States Parties. The ICC deals with cases of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes upon referrals by any of the States Parties to the Rome Statute or the UN Security Council. It is to have jurisdiction over the crime of aggression as soon as the States Parties agree upon its definition.
     At present, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Central Africa have referred the cases concerning their national situations to the ICC. The UN Security Council has also referred a case concerning the situation of Darfur, Sudan, to the Court.
     Japan has not ratified the Rome Statute, stating that careful consideration is needed due to lack of harmonization of national legislation, including that there is no law to punish war crimes. From now on, however, necessary amendments will be made to national legislation for the purpose of cooperating with the ICC, including arrest and extradition of perpetrators, in accordance with the Rome Statute.

· Proceedings of the Budget Committee of the House of Councilors (Issue 3: 13 October 2006), the 165th session of the Diet [Japanese]
· On the Ratification of the ICC (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 2004) [Japanese]

See also: Dr. Benjamin Goold, Ratifying the Rome Statute: Japan and the International Criminal Court (FOCUS Asia- Pacific No. 29, September 2002)