Practice Relating to the Prohibition of Certain Types of Landmines
Japan’s Law Prohibiting Anti-Personnel Landmines (1998) provides:
1. The purpose of this Law is to take measures such as prohibiting the production of anti-personnel landmines, regulating, etc., the possession of anti-personnel landmines in order to ensure the appropriate implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction.
2. In this Law, “Anti-Personnel Landmine” means a mine designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person.
3. No person shall produce Anti-Personnel Landmines.
4. Except for such cases falling under any one of the following items, no person shall possess Anti-Personnel Landmines:
1) Any person who has obtained permission under Clause 1 of the following Article (hereinafter, referred to as “Permitted Possessor”) possesses Anti-Personnel Landmines related to the permission under such Clause (in case any change of matters related to the permission of the possession of Anti-Personnel Landmines is permitted under Clause 1 of Article 8, such changed permission shall apply);
2) Any person who has obtained approval of import of Anti-Personnel Landmines under Clause 1 of Article 10 (hereinafter, referred to as the “Approved Importer”) possesses Anti-Personnel Landmines during the period from such import of Anti-Personnel Landmines to transfer of Anti-Personnel Landmines to the Permitted Possessor;
3) Any person who shall destruct Anti-Personnel Landmines or transfer Anti-Personnel Landmines to a new Permitted Possessor under Clause 1 of Article 11, possesses Anti-Personnel Landmines until such destruction or transfer of them;
4) Any person who is commissioned to transport Anti-Personnel Landmines by a person who falls under one of the three preceding items possesses Anti-Personnel Landmines to transport; and
5) In case any person who is employed by a person who falls under one of the preceding items possesses Anti-Personnel Landmines for a duty.
At the Lyon Summit in 1996, the Japanese Prime Minister, Ryutaro Hashimoto, expressed Japan’s intention to host “an international conference for the purpose of strengthening international support for the efforts by the United Nations to remove mines”. He further stated: “I also mentioned that we have decided recently to actively support efforts for a total international ban of antipersonnel mines.”
Subsequently, the Japanese Government hosted the Tokyo Conference on Antipersonnel Landmines in March 1997.
Japan also reiterated its support for a global ban on anti-personnel mines during UN General Assembly meetings in 1996 and voted in favour the UN General Assembly resolution in support of a ban on anti-personnel landmines adopted the same year.
Despite its public position, Japan did not express its support for the mine ban treaty until September 1997, with its decision to participate in the Oslo negotiations which led to the adoption of a treaty banning anti-personnel landmines. The real shift in the government’s position came after the then Foreign Minister, Keizo Obuchi, decided to review Japanese policy, on the day he became Foreign Minister. Obuchi noted that “it would not make sense for Japan to oppose the Treaty while cooperating in demining activities in Cambodia.”
After internal discussions among relevant ministries, the government announced its decision to sign the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines on 27 November 1997, and the Foreign Minister himself flew to Ottawa to take part in the mine ban treaty signing ceremony on 3 December 1997.
At the First Meeting of the States Parties to the Ottawa Convention in 1999, Japan stated that it was deeply concerned about the use of anti-personnel landmines in Kosovo and called upon “all parties involved in the Kosovo question to refrain from the use of anti-personnel landmines”.