Senior Officials at Intl Organizations: Japan Should Assume Heavy Responsibility to Restore Global Order

Amid deepening global turmoil, international organizations responsible for maintaining order and creating rules are growing increasingly important. It is essential for Japan to actively secure senior posts at these organizations and contribute to resolving issues.

Tomoko Akane, a judge at the International Criminal Court, has assumed the court’s presidency. She was elected to the post in a vote by 18 judges. Akane has been an ICC judge since 2018, having previously served as the chief public prosecutor at the Hakodate District Public Prosecutors Office and a prosecutor at the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office.

The ICC prosecutes individuals involved in war crimes and genocide. It plays a role in promoting peace in the face of numerous conflicts in various parts of the world. It is hoped that Akane will use her abilities to spread the rule of law, which Japan values, throughout the world.

In March last year, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian Presiden Vladimir Putin on suspicion of war crimes regarding Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, namely forcibly transferring a large number of children from Ukraine. ICC nonmember states, including Russia, are not obligated to enforce the arrest, and it will not be easy to detain Putin.

But it is a fact that the ICC’s move has constrained Putin’s diplomacy. Since the arrest warrant was issued, Putin has not visited any of the 124 ICC member countries and regions. The effect of an international organization’s decision can be said to be significant.

In recent years, China’s presence has increased regarding senior posts at international organizations. Many believe that China is sending its nationals to these senior posts to try to shape standards and regulations in the industrial sector to its advantage. Western countries are becoming increasingly aware of such moves by Beijing.

International rules, which are supposed to be fair, must not be distorted by the will of certain countries.

Japanese people who have left a significant mark at international bodies include Sadako Ogata, former U.N. high commissioner for refugees; Yasushi Akashi, former U.N. undersecretary general; and Hisashi Owada, former president of the International Court of Justice. Currently, Izumi Nakamitsu, a U.N. undersecretary general, and other Japanese are still active in this field.

Spreading the principles of peaceful diplomacy and the rule of law throughout the world via international organizations will help raise confidence in Japan.

However, Japan’s efforts are still insufficient compared to those of China, which has strategically placed candidates in senior posts at international organizations by getting African and other countries on its side.

First, the number of Japanese staff at these organizations will have to be increased. At the end of 2022, there were 961 Japanese working for 43 U.N. bodies, the smallest number among the Group of Seven advanced nations.

The Foreign Ministry is investing national funds to send young Japanese people from the public and private sectors to international organizations so that they will be hired as regular staff there. The ministry should also consider fielding people with language skills who have held cabinet posts as candidates for senior posts at international organizations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 21, 2024)