Statement by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, on Agenda Item 76: Report of the International Criminal Court

Mr. President,
          I would like to begin by thanking President Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi for her dedication and leadership, as well as for the comprehensive report on the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC). I would also like to thank Mexico for preparing and introducing today’s draft resolution. Japan is happy to co-sponsor the draft resolution and strongly hopes that it will be adopted by consensus.
          Japan is committed to the fight against impunity and to supporting the International Criminal Court. Earlier this year, the President of the ICC, Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi visited Tokyo and met with Prime Minister Abe and other high-level officials of the Government of Japan. In their discussions, they talked about the importance of promoting the universality of the Rome Statute, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Prime Minister Abe reiterated Japan’s support for the ICC and expressed his hope that the ICC will play a greater role, thereby contributing to the establishment of the rule of law in the international community.
          Japan’s core policy towards the Court is to enable it to function effectively and sustainably with the support of the international community. Japan is proud to be the largest financial contributor to the Court. We are also dedicated to supporting the Court through capable human resources, including judges. Two Japanese staff have also joined the ICC for the first time this year through its new Junior Professional Officers (JPO) program.
          Japan believes that the ICC has contributed to steady progress in international justice. The Court has been exercising its jurisdiction over 10 situations, and 10 preliminary examinations are ongoing. Nevertheless, we are cognizant that financial and human resources are limited and believe that they should be used efficiently. With this in mind, the Japanese Ambassador to the Netherlands, Hiroshi Inomata, has been working with Chile to co-chair the Study Group on Governance to enhance the efficiency of the Court. We also welcome the ICC’s efforts to improve the efficiency of proceedings, including through a retreat among judges. We strongly believe that these exercises undertaken by the States Parties as well as the Court can help alleviate its workload.
          Japan strongly believes that to ensure that the ICC effectively promotes the rule of law around the world, more countries should join the ICC. In the long run, the ICC should aim at becoming a truly universal criminal court so that it can gain strong support for its work. We therefore welcome the decisions by The Gambia and South Africa to rescind their withdrawal from the ICC. In order to maximize support from a greater number of States, the ICC and its States Parties should continue to listen to various concerns expressed and make efforts to enhance the ICC’s universality. In this regard, we welcome the understanding on the participation of Observer States in meetings of the Assembly of States Parties.  We hope this will lead to more States becoming States Parties to the Rome Statute in the future. Also in the same vein, in August this year, Japan, together with the Netherlands and the ICC, hosted an outreach event in Tokyo involving non-States Parties in the Asia-Pacific region to share Japan’s experience in acceding to the Rome Statue and harmonizing its domestic legislation with the Rome Statute. In April, Ms. Tomoko Akane, Public Prosecutor, Supreme Public Prosecutors Office of Japan, Ambassador for International Judicial Cooperation, and candidate for ICC judge, also shared Japan’s experiences with non-States Parties at ICC High-Level Regional Seminar in Seoul for the same purpose.
     Discussions are ongoing on the activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. I would like to express our gratitude to the facilitator of the process for all the excellent work in steering the facilitation with professionalism and dedication, which is not an easy task. Reiterating the importance of legal clarity, we strongly hope that the Assembly of States Parties remains united for the effective and sustainable functioning of the ICC. Japan stands ready to continue to engage actively in the discussions in order to work towards a consensus-based solution.
          Japan will continue to strongly support the ICC’s work in the fight against impunity. Earlier this year, we were pleased to donate the Peace and Justice Bell to the Court as a symbol of this ongoing commitment. We hope that this Bell will serve as a reminder to all visitors to the Court that we all strive for peace and justice through supporting the important work of the ICC.   
I thank you, Mr. President.