Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister KAMIKAWA Yoko
Thursday, January 11, 2024, 9:58 a.m. The Hague
Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs:Today, here in The Hague, the “capital of international law”, I visited the International Court of Justice (ICJ). One of the goals that Japan and I myself as a politician have cherished the most is to promote the “rule of law” in the international community for the pursuit of peace and realize a safe and secure world where “human dignity” of each and every one of us is protected, as the world is becoming more divided and confrontational. When I held a meeting with Judge Donoghue today, President of the ICJ, I reiterated Japan’s strong support for the ICJ’s role in upholding the “rule of law” and “human dignity” and exchanged views on how Japan can cooperate with the ICJ by leveraging our strengths. In the afternoon, I will visit the International Criminal Court (ICC), and explore further collaboration in the future. I also plan to visit the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) next week.
Last year, Japan, as the G7 Presidency, consolidated messages of the G7 in pursuit of the “rule of law” through observance of the prohibition of the acquisition of territory by force and other rules of international law in good faith, and conveyed these messages to the world. At the same time, this initiative reflects a sense of urgency about the reality in the international community where peace and security are threatened due to the fragility of the “rule of law”. In the international community, inter-state trials cannot take place without the consent of the parties; if we turn our backs on international trials, the function of rectifying illegal conducts that undermine peace will not work. However, as Judge Donoghue stated last year, this is not a time for the rule of law to wave the white flag of surrender. For my part, as a package for strengthening the “rule of law” by taking advantage of Japan’s strengths, I intend to further promote the following three pillars. In so doing, I will put them into concrete action when deliverable, while incorporating the outcome of this tour and keeping in mind the diplomatic calendar for this year.
First, for the international aspect of the “rule of law”, we must aim for an international community in which international law is observed in good faith. To this end, it is essential to enhance the role of international courts. However, only 74 countries have made declarations of the acceptance of the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction, recognizing jurisdiction as compulsory ipso facto. Japan, in coordination with like-minded countries, will call on other States to make a declaration of acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ as well as to conclude the ICC Rome Statute. The number of States Parties to the ICC Rome Statute also remains only 123. Japan will also contribute as much as possible to the ICJ’s work, such as advisory opinions, by submitting written statements and participating in oral hearings. Furthermore, together with the ICC and countries in the region, Japan will explore concrete measures to play a greater role in promoting the ICC in the Asia-Pacific region.
Second, it is important to permeate the “rule of law” within each country in order to strengthen it in the international community. In this regard, we will also boost our cooperation, building on our strengths. Japan has an extensive track record of supporting the development of legal systems in Asia and Africa. In cooperation with the ICC, Japan has made voluntary contributions to the ICC’s Trust Fund for Victims for nearly 10 years and has supported female victims of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict in Africa. The spread of the “rule of law” within a country can lead to greater predictability, transparency and fairness in society, thereby laying the foundation for the creation of safe and secure societies where “human dignity” is protected. This year, the TICAD Ministerial Meeting will be held in Tokyo. We will further discuss in detail how to reinforce cooperation with Africa in the area of the “rule of law”, making use of Japan’s advantages.
Thirdly, for initiatives promoting the “rule of law” at both international and each country’s domestic levels as I just mentioned, Japan will contribute to the training of personnel who is essential to work for these efforts in this field. Japan has been fostering human resource in Asia and Africa through accepting trainees at JICA and UNAFEI over the years, as well as through organizing the Tokyo International Law Seminar, an international law training program for practitioners launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan last year. UNAFEI has also signed the Agreement on Cooperation with the ICC. We will enhance efforts to foster such human resource. We will also seriously consider how we can train even more Japanese people to play an active role in international courts and international organizations, with relevant ministries and agencies.
“Law” is essential for achieving a fair and just society. This is also true in the international community. Japan will exercise diplomacy based on its experience in emphasizing such “law”. “Law” is not something to be imposed ostentatiously, but rather a culture of lawfulness must take root, with other states and people working together through dialogue and cooperation to enjoy mutual peace and happiness through respect for others and self-discipline. For my part, as Minister for Foreign Affairs, I pledge to comprehensively pursue diplomacy for strengthening the “rule of law” in the international community based on dialogue and cooperation.
Finally, after this press occasion, I will pay a courtesy call to Prime Minister Rutte and hold a foreign ministerial meeting with Foreign Minister Bruins Slot. The Netherlands is an important strategic partner that we share more than 400 years of history as well as values and principles with. I look forward to robust discussions, including on partnership towards a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” including cooperation in the context of NATO.
Reporter: Since you mentioned in detail with regard to Japan’s contribution to international law and the International Court, I would like to ask you about your upcoming first visit to Washington, D.C. as Foreign Minister. Please tell us once again about the expected outcomes and significance of this visit to the United States. In addition, Prime Minister Kishida is scheduled to visit the U.S. in the early part of this year. In the context that the U.S. presidential election is coming up in the fall, please tell us what you will focus on as a minister during your visit to the U.S.
Minister Kamikawa: I will visit Washington, D.C. for the first time since I was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs last September. I have been working closely with Secretary of State Blinken to date. At this time in the new year, I intend to exchange candid views with Secretary Blinken and other U.S. officials looking ahead to this year and after.
Specifically, as the international community faces deepening division and confrontation, the Japan-U.S. Alliance has an increasingly important role to play in addressing various issues in the Indo-Pacific region and the world. Moreover, in addition to Japan-U.S. alliance cooperation it is important to deepen cooperation through Japan-U.S.-Republic of Korea, Japan-U.S.-Philippines, Japan-Australia-India-U.S. (Quad), and other frameworks. Looking ahead to upcoming events including Prime Minister Kishida’s official visit to the U.S., which is to take place in the early part of this year, I will discuss these points deeply with the U.S.
We will also once again exchange views on international affairs, including Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East. In particular, I just visited Ukraine, Poland, and other European countries. Secretary Blinken has just visited Israel and the Arab countries. We intend to share information face to face on such respective efforts, and discuss how we can continue and strengthen cooperation among like-minded countries, especially the G7.