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Better late than never! Making Sense of Japan’s (belated) accession to the International Criminal Court

10.09.2008 | 18:30

Kerstin Lukner, Duisburg-Essen University

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The adoption of the Rome Statute and the subsequent establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is responsible for the prosecution and punishment of the “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole” (i.e. genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, crime of aggression), is a prominent example of the international community’s move towards the rule of law and of the increasing legalization of world politics. Legalization constitutes a particular form of institutionalization and aims at imposing international legal constraints on governments to regulate their behavior.

In the context of Japan’s (belated) accession to the ICC in October 2007 recent publications by legal experts primarily focus on the legal implications of Japan’s newly established “Laws for the Cooperation with the International Criminal Court.” None of these publications, however, closely analyze the political discourse or the political process that led to Japan’s accession to this highly legalized multilateral institution. Rather, Japan’s ICC membership appears to be the result of little studied discussions and still unknown internal negotiations (a “black box” output).

Based on a three-level-analysis that focuses on agency, but also takes into account structures and norms this presentation will try to shed some light on the political process that led to and the reasons behind Japan’s becoming an ICC member state.


Kerstin Lukner is a postdoctoral research fellow and lecturer at the Institutes for Political Science and East Asian Studies at Duisburg-Essen University, Germany. Currently, she is a visiting research fellow at Meiji Gakuin University.

Koordination: Barbara Holthus; Gabriele Vogt; Maren Godzik; Ralph Lützeler

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