Indo-Pacific Officials Gather for International Law Seminar in Tokyo

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Participants from various countries listen to Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi’s video message at United Nations University in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, on Monday.

Diplomats and other officials from the Indo-Pacific region have gathered for the Foreign Ministry’s first Tokyo International Law Seminar.

The four-day event began Monday and was designed to help enhance each country’s ability to handle legal disputes over territorial waters and other matters, and to strengthen the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific region through the development of human resources.

The seminar was devised with the increasingly hegemonic behavior of China in mind.

About 50 people are participating, including Japanese international law researchers and working-level officials from 11 countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and the Pacific nation of Samoa.

Prominent international law experts from Japan and abroad will give lectures through Thursday on the Law of the Sea, international humanitarian law and other topics.

“This seminar will provide a valuable opportunity for participants to learn about important aspects of international law and foster interactions with other participants,” Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said in a video message Monday before the opening of the seminar.

The event is part of efforts to promote a new plan for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) announced by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in India in March. The Foreign Ministry aims to make the seminar an annual summer event.

China is increasing its maritime activities in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, leading to territorial disputes with some countries. The international order has also been shaken by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In January, Japan hosted a ministerial-level open debate of U.N. Security Council member nations on the rule of law. Through such activities, Japan has been striving to build consensus with other countries on the importance of the rule of law.