15 July 2009

Japan ratifies cluster bomb ban as momentum continues to grow

CMC Advisory note

Branislav Kapetanovic and the Japanese Foreign Minister, 12/2008

(London, 15 July 2009) - On 14 July, Japan became the 14th country to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the United Nations headquarters in New York, following final approval of both houses of its parliament, the Diet, earlier this month.

With this latest ratification, only 16 more countries must ratify for the Convention to reach the threshold of 30 required for it to enter into force and become fully legally binding for all states who are party to it.
"Japan has the second biggest economy in the world and is a major player in global affairs. As a big stockpiler and producer of cluster munitions, its incredibly swift ratification of the cluster bomb ban is a real boost to the movement to eradicate this weapon. We hope Japan will now increase its funding to affected countries and convince its allies and neighbours to join the Convention without delay," said Thomas Nash, Coordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition.Japan was initially unsupportive of the Norwegian-led "Oslo Process" to ban cluster bombs, contending that the weapons were "indispensable" for the nation's defence. Despite its reservations, Japan decided to adopt the Convention at the end of the negotiations in Dublin on 30 May and Japan's Foreign Minister signed it in Oslo on 3 December, calling it "an epoch-making treaty." The ratification bill also serves as implementing legislation for the Convention, banning use and possession. A Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs official noted that the quick turnaround towards approval of the legislation was "unprecedented.""We are very proud that Japan could be included within the first thirty countries to make the convention enter into force," said Yasuhiro Kitagawa, a head of Japan Campaign to Ban Landmines, a network of over 40 NGOs and an affiliate of CMC in Japan. "Japan's ratification has a special meaning to us especially when so few countries from Asia are part of this convention and that Japan is a very important donor. We will continue pushing our government to truly implement the convention," he added.Japan has been an important donor for the clearance of unexploded cluster munitions in Lao PDR, Lebanon and elsewhere and has announced that it intends to continue to provide funding for programmes to assist individuals and communities affected by the weapon.The Convention on Cluster Munitions has been signed by 98 countries. In addition to banning use, production and trade, it requires destruction of stockpiled cluster munitions in eight years, assistance for clearance and victims, and annual transparency reporting.Contact:Thomas Nash, Coordinator, Cluster Munition Coalition: +447711926730Cluster Munition Coalition: www.stopclustermunitions.orgJapan Campaign to Ban Landmines: www.jcbl-ngo.org