Practice Relating to Rule 73. Biological Weapons
Japan’s Law on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons (1982), as amended in 2001, states:
1. With a view to ensuring an appropriate and competent implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (hereinafter referred to as the “Biological Weapons Convention”), and the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, this Law aims to prohibit the production, retention, transfer and acquisition of biological and toxin weapons and to take measures to restrict acts of discharging biological agents and toxins.
4. No person shall produce biological or toxin weapons.
4-2. No person shall retain, transfer or acquire biological or toxin weapons.
9. Persons who use biological or toxin weapons and discharge biological agents or toxins filled in the said biological or toxin weapons shall be liable to either imprisonment with labor for an indefinite period, or for a minimum [period of] two years, or a maximum fine of ten million yen.
The Report on the Practice of Japan states that there is no national legislation specifically dealing with the prohibition of the use of bacteriological weapons, but that the judgment in the Shimoda case
in 1963 held that “bacteria” were part of “prohibited materials” under international law.
The Japanese army allegedly disseminated cholera and plague pathogens in several incidents in the USSR and Mongolia in the period 1939–1940 and in China between 1940 and 1944. These allegations were documented by Dr Robert Lim, the then head of the Chinese Red Cross, Dr R. Pollitzer, a League of Nations epidemiologist stationed in Hunan Province at the time of the alleged attacks, Dr P.Z. King, Director General of the Chinese National Health Administration, and a number of other sources.
In 1968, during a debate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, Japan stated that it should not only be prohibited to use biological weapons, but that this prohibition should also cover production and stockpiling.
In 1992, during a debate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, Japan stated that it “attached great importance to the prohibition of biological weapons”.
In its oral pleadings before the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons case
in 1995, Japan stated that the 1925 Geneva Gas Protocol and the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention “and similar laws all rest on the desire to prevent the most irrational deeds of humankind. International law has always sought to play a humanitarian role.”
At the Fourth Review Conference of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention in 1996, Japan stated: “It is extremely important that more countries accede to the Convention so that we can achieve the desired universality.”
At the Fifth Review Conference of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention in 2001, Japan stated that it had “undertaken legislative measures to strengthen the national legislation with further punitive actions against those who use biological weapons as well as those who disseminate biological agents and toxins”.