Press Releases

Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan on the Election of Members of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) Re-election of ITLOS Judge Shunji Yanai

June 12, 2014

1. On June 12 (June 11 local time) the election of members of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) took place at the Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea being held in New York. It is of great delight for the Government of Japan that Judge Shunji Yanai, incumbent President of ITLOS, and a candidate nominated by the Government, has been re-elected, obtaining the largest number of votes among the candidates of Asia-Pacific Group.

2. Amid the ever-increasing role ITLOS performs in peaceful settlement of disputes in relation to the sea and strengthening the “rule of law” in the oceans, Judge Yanai has been making significant contribution to ITLOS since elected in 2005. In particular, from 2011 he has demonstrated his leadership as President of ITLOS. Judge Yanai’s re-election indicates the high esteem of the international community for him.

3. The Government of Japan, determined to continue cooperating for the further advancement of ITLOS in order to proactively contribute to the promotion of the “rule of law” in the oceans, believes that Judge Yanai will play an even more active role.



1. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS)

(1) ITLOS was established in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in 1996 in Hamburg, Germany, with the mandate of judicial settlement of disputes related to the interpretation and application of the Convention. The Tribunal is composed of 21 independent members, elected by the States Parties of UNCLOS from among persons of recognized competence in the field of the law of the sea.

(2) UNCLOS entered into effect in 1994 and currently has 165 State Parties and one region (EU). Japan ratified UNCLOS in 1996.

(3) A total of 22 cases have been submitted and 12 judgments, 6 orders of provisional measures, and 1 advisory opinion have been delivered by the ITLOS.

(4) To date, Japan has produced two members of ITLOS, Mr. Soji Yamamoto (from October 1, 1996, to September 30, 2005) and Mr. Shunji Yanai (nine years in office since October 1, 2005).

2. Election of members of ITLOS

(1) Seven members of ITLOS are elected once every three years at the Meeting of States Parties to UNCLOS (the member(s) may be re-elected).

(2) The latest election was held on June 11 (local time) during the Meeting of States Parties to UNCLOS which has been held in New York from June 9 to 13. A candidate must obtain more than two-thirds of the valid votes to be elected as a member of ITLOS.

(3) Judge Yanai, nominated by other than Japan, Bulgaria, Palau, Paraguay, Samoa, Senegal, and Tonga, obtained a total of 142 votes to be re-elected (his new term begins from October 1, 2014, for nine years).

(4) For the seats of seven members (two from Asia-Pacific Group, two from African Group, one from Latin American and Caribbean Group, one from Eastern European Group, and one from Western European and Others Group), 10 candidates were nominated. From the Asia-Pacific Group to which Japan belongs, Mr. Jin-Hyun Paik (from Republic of Korea) was elected as a member of ITLOS, other than Judge Yanai.

3. C. V. of Mr. Shunji Yanai, judge of the ITLOS Tribunal

Born in 1937. Graduated from Faculty of Law, The University of Tokyo. Joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1961. Served as Director-General of Treaties Bureau, Deputy Vice-Minister for Foreign Policy, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America, and retired in 2002. Elected as a member of ITLOS at the election of members of ITLOS held in June 2005 and has served the current position since October 2005 (since he was re-elected at this election, his next term in office as a member of ITLOS will be the next nine years, until September 2023).

(* The foregoing is a provisional translation. The date indicated above denotes the date of issue of the original press release in Japanese.)
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