Practice Relating to Rule 38. Attacks against Cultural Property
Japan’s Law concerning the Punishment of Grave Breaches of International Humanitarian Law (2004) states:
In situations and armed conflict … a person who, without justifiable reason, in an act of hostility, destroys either a historic monument, work of art or place of worship that is designated as an important cultural property in Cabinet Orders, shall be punished by imprisonment with labour for not more than 7 years.
Japan’s Law concerning the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (2007) states:
1. In the situations enumerated below, a person who damages national cultural properties or cultural properties of the states parties to the Second Protocol [1999 Second Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property] during combat, without legitimate reason, shall be sentenced to not more than seven years’ imprisonment with hard labour.
a. A situation of armed conflict between the states parties to the Second Protocol or between a state party to the Second Protocol and a non-state party which accepts the application of the said Protocol.
b. A situation of occupation of a territory of a state party to the Second Protocol by another state party to the said protocol, of a territory of a state party to the Second Protocol by a non-state party which accepts the application of the said Protocol, or a territory of a non-state party which accepts the application of the Second Protocol by a state party to the said Protocol.
c. A situation of armed conflict as provided in Article 22(1) [armed conflicts not of an international character] of the Second Protocol.
The Report on the Practice of Japan notes that Japan is not a party to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property because of some problems connected to domestic measures for the implementation of this Convention. It recalls, however, that Japan was among the countries at the CDDH which proposed adding a clause to the draft Additional Protocol II concerning the protection of cultural property and chapels.