2012 Statement


Statement by H. E. Mr. Tsuneo Nishida,
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations,

On Agenda Item 10: Commemoration of the Thirtieth Anniversary
of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea



Mme. President,
H.E. Judge Shunji Yanai, President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea,
H.E. Mr. Nii Allotey Odunton, Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority,
Mr. Galo Carrera Hurtado, Chairperson of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,


            At the outset, I would like to express my sincere congratulations on the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).


            Japan, as a maritime state surrounded by the sea, has held significant stakes in the various uses of the ocean, including fishing, transportation and the utilization of marine resources.


            At the time of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), as technology had advanced and the number of sovereign states in the world had increased, so too had the uses of the seas and oceans become more advanced and diverse. Under such circumstances, conflicts of the interests among states were becoming ever fiercer.


            At that time, Japan believed that establishing a framework for the orderly common use of the seas and oceans would serve both the interests of the international community and its own basic and long-term interests.


            Therefore, at UNCLOS III, Japan, emphasizing that as a maritime state the lives of its people depended largely on the ocean, and bearing in mind the emerging needs of the era as well as the particular interests and needs of developing countries at that time, strongly urged the international community to establish a new, stable, and fair legal order of the sea in order to achieve full utilization of the rich potential of the sea over the long term. This basic notion of Japan remains unchanged.  


Mme. President,


            Since the Convention was opened for signature thirty years ago and its entry into force eighteen years ago, the international community has steadily made efforts to establish a legal order under UNCLOS. I would like to give my heartfelt praise not only to the States Parties of course, but also, and especially to the three organs which were established under the Convention; namely, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), the International Seabed Authority (ISBA), and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).  


            With regard to ITLOS, a total of nineteen cases, including three cases related to Japan, have been submitted to the Tribunal since its establishment, making the Tribunal’s work even more active. In addition to a number of prompt release cases, in February 2011 the Seabed Disputes Chamber delivered its advisory opinion on the case concerning Responsibilities and obligations of States sponsoring persons and entities with respect to activities in the Area, and in March of this year the Tribunal gave a judgment in its first maritime delimitation case. Japan is pleased to see that the Tribunal’s work covers various fields, and it has been steadily accumulating a body of cases so that the important role played by the Tribunal in the peaceful settlement of disputes is further and more widely recognized in the international community.


            With regard to ISBA, the Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for mineral resources in the Area have been adopted. The number of contractors prospecting and exploring the mineral resources in the Area, which include a Japanese development company, is increasing.


            With regard to CLCS, furthermore, Japan welcomes that, with 60 submissions including one from my country lodged to it so far, the Commission has been issuing recommendations accordingly. I also wish to pay tribute to the Commission’s work in adopting the Recommendation for the Submission by Japan during its twenty-ninth session. Furthermore, I would like to congratulate the 20 members elected to the Commission at the elections held during this meeting of States Parties to UNCLOS, and look forward to the Commission’s further success in its work.


            Since the establishment of these three organs, Japan has actively contributed to their work, by, for example, providing judges for the Tribunal and members for the Commission. Similarly, Japan has recently decided to contribute approximately 352,000 US dollars to the Trust Fund for the purpose of defraying the cost of participation in meetings of the Commission for members from developing States. Japan hopes that this contribution will facilitate efficient considerations by the Commission with the participation of all its members.


            Japan strongly hopes that the three organs will continue to discharge their mandates in accordance with the Convention, and for its part Japan will continue to be committed to establishing and advancing an international legal order of the sea, with UNCLOS as a core instrument.


Mme. President,


            Today, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of UNCLOS, which has a total of 162 parties, including the European Union. With this, I believe we can fairly say that UNCLOS has attained the status as “the constitution for the oceans,” serving as the core and basis of international legal principles of the sea. I would like to encourage even more nations to become States Parties to the Convention.  


            As the importance of the legal order of the ocean increases, discussions are being held not only on traditional matters concerning the law of the sea, but also on new challenges arising from this age’s needs. It is crucially important that we address these new challenges in accordance with the framework of UNCLOS, which serves as the core of instrument in the law of the sea.


            I would like to close my statement by reiterating Japan’s determination to continue to make its utmost efforts to support the establishment and maintenance of a stable and fair international legal order of the sea.


Thank you, Mme. President.