Professor Atsuko Kanehara

Greeting from the President

Thank you very much for visiting the website of the Japanese Society of International Law (JSIL). This website provides information to JSIL members and also allows members to exchange information amongst themselves. It also provides the opportunity for non-members with an interest in the JSIL to learn about it.

First, I would like to introduce the JSIL’s “profile.”

The JSIL is currently composed of about 900 members specializing in the three fields of public international law, private international law, and international politics/diplomatic history. Members include researchers affiliated with universities and research institutions, officials of the Government of Japan including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, practitioners such as attorneys, graduate students, and others.

Next, I would like to introduce the JSIL’s wide-ranging activities.

The main activities that members participate in are as follows. Firstly, there are research conferences. The JSIL annual meeting is held over three days once per year. The annual meeting has the plenary session for which all the attendees gather, and several concurrent breakout sessions that are separated by theme. In addition, an open call system soliciting presentations is adopted. The 2020 research conference has been suspended due to the novel coronavirus crisis, but preparation is being steadily advanced toward holding the 2021 research conference. Next, regarding publications, the JSIL publishes the Kokusaiho Gaiko Zassi (Journal of International Law and Diplomacy) four times per year. A system has been established for publishing articles and other matters. Efforts are made to be sure to provide fair opportunities for presenting at the research conferences and contributing to the Journal. Additionally, regarding international activities, the Seventh International Four Societies Conference, which is jointly held by international law societies from Japan, the United States, Canada, and Australia-New Zealand, was held in June 2018 in Tokyo (the Conference is hosted on a rotational basis by each association every two years). The 2020 Conference will be postponed until 2021 due to the novel coronavirus crisis. The JSIL also renewed the memorandum of understanding for cooperation with the Korean Society of International Law in 2016, and exchanges are being continued.

Furthermore, targeting non-members as well, the JSIL widely promotes research in related fields of expertise and conducts activities to provide information. This is also wide-ranging.

This includes providing services for research and education such as creation of bibliographies in related fields of expertise, social cooperation activities through the cooperation projects with the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, disseminating explanations on current topics concerning related fields of expertise, holding the “Asian Cup” moot court jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and conducting an open call for essays for the Shigeru Oda Award, which was established based on the donation by Professor Shigeru Oda, who was a judge on the International Court of Justice for 27 years (three terms).

Information is provided to inform members and non-members about all these wide-ranging activities in the JSIL newsletter and on the website.

The structure of the JSIL is composed of the Board of Trustees, the Board of Councillors, and 11 committees (please see the Registry of JSIL Directors and Committee Members on the JSIL website).

The JSIL in its current form was shaped over a long history of over 120 years. I would thus like to introduce the history of the JSIL. Its history progressed in pace with the history of Japan.

The JSIL was established in 1897 to realize its three objectives of research on international law, spreading knowledge internationally, and research on treaty revision. It is on of the oldest academic societies in Japan in the field of law. It is also one of the oldest societies established by one nation in the world in the field of international law. Publication of the Kokusaiho Zassi (Journal of International Law) was launched in 1902 (the name was changed to Kokusaiho Gaiko Zassi (Journal of International Law and Diplomacy in 1912). It was the only journal of international law in the East at the time, and on an international level, it boasts a history as a national journal specialized in international law following France (1874) and Belgium (1889).

As you may know, Japan had an isolationist or seclusion policy, but was pressed to open the country by the major powers of the United States and Europe at the end of the Edo period. After Japan opened the country to the world, it was forced to recognize exterritoriality and conclude unequal treaties in relation to European and Western powers. The JSIL was established as part of the response to such historic difficulties experienced by Japan. After Japan joined the ranks of the major world powers, the JSIL has continued to face matters such as World War I, withdrawal from the League of Nations, and World War II. The JSIL, which handles issues closely related to Japan’s foreign policy, has overcome such historic difficulties and developed thanks to the hard work and wise judgment of our many predecessors at the JSIL.

That is not all. In regard to the JSIL’s structural improvement, in October 2012 the JSIL strengthened its structure from the former incorporated foundation to become a general incorporated foundation. Accompanying the transition to being a new type of juridical person, efforts were conducted including establishing the JSIL’s various regulations and reorganizing the JSIL’s management structure in accordance with its articles of incorporation. Thanks to the hard work of our predecessors, the strong structure has been built up of the JSIL, which has over 120 years of history and about 900 members.

We have the major, honorable duty to inherit the JSIL and pass it on to the next generation.

The JSIL continues to have its dauntless spirit to voraciously take on the world order for the modernization of Japan. Besides this, the JSIL has also steadily fostered a resolute determination to plan the proactive creation of the new world order. Although Japan is experiencing an unprecedented disaster during the novel coronavirus crisis, this is probably an opportunity for the JSIL to make proposals for building the new related world order.

I believe that the JSIL’s members are steadfastly advancing research activities despite the novel coronavirus crisis. The JSIL will not stop its hope to be a starting point for that research. Among non-members, I believe there are people with interest in and requests for the JSIL based on their respective positions and expertise. The JSIL and its activities will not stop the hope of being familiar sources of encouragement to them. For this, I would like to kindly request that members and non-members alike send their candid views and criticisms to the JSIL whenever and in whatever form they would like.

The JSIL website will continue to provide information to everyone 24 hours a day.

September 2020

Atsuko Kanehara

President, Japanese Society of International Law