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A Japanese judge is heading the ICC. Can Tokyo build on that to host tribunal’s Asia office?

The East Asian nation hopes to reinforce its reputation as a nation that promotes the rule of law in international disputes and to play a larger role in regional diplomacy, analysts told This Week in Asia.

“This is in line with Tokyo’s vision of an international order based on an adherence to international law,” said Stephen Nagy, a professor of international relations at Tokyo’s International Christian University.

Japan is one of the largest financial contributors to the ICC, earmarking 3 billion yen (US$20 million) in the 2022 financial year budget, as well as contributing to its operations and staffing, such as by dispatching prosecutors to assist on cases.

Go Ito, a professor of international relations at Tokyo’s Meiji University, said, “I believe the promotion of Judge [Tomoko] Akane to the top position in the court in The Hague has given Japan new belief that this is where the Asian court should be based, along with all the clear evidence that Japan has long been a leading contributor to the court and a firm follower of international law.”

By the end of this month, the ICC will release an overview of its plan to set up four regional courts around the world. The court hopes to expand its geographical footprint to ease the pressure on the single court that presently adjudicates in international disputes, as well as to increase cooperation among the 124 states that are a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC.

The ICC – which tries individuals for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression – also hopes to increase understanding of the court’s objectives among non-member states and encourage them to join.

A general assembly of the full ICC later this year is expected to approve the plan, and branch offices