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date: 31 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter describes the treaty-making practice in Japan, with a focus on explaining the mechanism for striking the balance between democratic control and effective management of foreign affairs. The chapter first outlines the structure of Japan’s Constitution regarding the responsibility for managing foreign affairs and the authority for concluding treaties and other international agreements. The chapter further introduces the process of concluding treaties step by step—from examination by the Cabinet Legislation Bureau to the Diet approval. The “Ohira Principles,” elaborated by Foreign Minister Masayoshi Ohira in 1974, specified three categories of treaties for the Diet approval. The chapter points out that the formula was extremely well crafted, although it has been challenged by the growing need for effective management over a wide range of issues in foreign affairs. In the course of discussion, the chapter takes up examples such as an Exchange of Notes of ODA projects, the 1997 “Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation,” the Guam International Agreement, and the Japan-U.S. SOFA and Supplementary Agreement on the Environment, the Japan-U.S. ACSA. The chapter also describes how the current Diet approval process proceeds, by referring to existing practices such as the “thirty-day rule” and bundling of multiple treaties, and then briefly covers the domestic legal effect of treaties, including bills for implementing treaties as well as “self-executing” treaties. The chapter concludes that the Japanese treaty-making practice will continue to face a question of how to strike the right balance between producing necessary treaties and other international agreements in a timely manner while also maintaining a sufficient level of democratic control by the Diet.

Keywords: Japan, Japanese Constitution, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Diet approval, democratic control, Ohira Principles, conclusion of treaties, administrative arrangements, self-executing treaties, Japan-U.S. SOFA

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