Coalition for the International Criminal Court
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Updates on Japan
31 Dec 2005
On 5 August 2005, Japanese Foreign Minister, Ms. Yoriko Kawaguchi, in a question and answer session of the House of Councilors said the major challenge to Japan’s accession to the Rome Statute is the need to harmonize domestic laws with the treaty. She said the introduction of implementing legislation for the Geneva Conventions introduced in a previous session of the Diet as part of the Emergency Legislation on National Security was a step toward accession.

As of February 2005, sources indicated that the government planned to accede to the Rome Statute, and had begun drafting legislation.

The government was reviewing the Rome Statute to see if it is compatible with Japan's Constitution. Some crimes in the Rome Statute are not yet codified in Japanese law, however, emergency legislation could prevent speedy accession. Sources indicated that changes to the penal code were a low priority, thereby impeding the process of accession. Immunities, capital punishment, and sovereignty were the main issues of concern.

In a statement made at the UN on 1 July 2002, the Government of Japan welcomed entry into force of the Rome Statute and reported that "Japan is currently conducting a thorough examination of the articles of the Statute, legal measure taken by other states in accepting the instrument, so as to ensure the compatibility between the Statute and Japan's own domestic law. Now that the ICC Statute has entered into force, Japan intends to accelerate such examination."

According to a news article on 19 April 2002, Japanese Minister of Justice Ms. Mayumi Moriyama expressed her caution about acceding to the Rome Statute. She explained that Japan is "concerned [about the] sovereignty of each state and there exist lots of difficult questions to be considered very cautiously."

The Kyodo News International reported in November 2001 that the government planned to ratify the ICC Statute. The government source reportedly stated that the work on drafting legislation is "showing a certain level of progress." The article stated that "the ruling coalition parties decided in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States to aim at coordinating the legislation at the regular Diet session [in 2002]."