Handbook on the Law of Cultural Heritage and International Trade

Handbook on the Law of Cultural Heritage and International Trade

Research Handbooks on Globalisation and the Law series

Edited by James A.R. Nafziger and Robert Kirkwood Paterson

This Handbook offers a collection of original writings by leading scholars and practitioners in the exciting, rapidly developing field of cultural heritage law. The detailed essays are the product of a multi-year project of the Committee on Cultural Heritage Law of the International Law Association.

Chapter 12: Japan

Shigeru Kozai and Toshiyuki Kono

Subjects: law - academic, cultural heritage and art law, international economic law, trade law


In the confusion of natural disasters or armed conflicts, cultural objects are often subject to theft, illegal trafficking, and sale at a very high price especially in developed countries. In this connection, criticisms and legal claims have been leveled against developed countries including Japan. Against this background, Japan became a party to two important agreements and two related protocols related to the cultural heritage. On September 9, 2002, Japan became a party to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property [hereinafter the "1970 UNESCO Convention"]. On September 10, the day on which the Convention entered into force for Japan, two domestic laws to secure implementation of the Convention were enacted: the Act on Control of the Illicit Export and Import and Other Matters of Cultural Property (Act No. 81 of 2002) and the Act for the Partial Amendment of the Act for the Protection of Cultural Property (Act No. 82 of 2002). They came into effect on April 1, 2005. Later, in 2007, Japan ratified the 1954 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (hereinafter the "1954 Hague Convention"). In the same year, Japan also became a party to both of the two Protocols to the Hague Convention. Accordingly, the Act for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (Act No. 32 of 2007), implementing the Hague Convention and two Protocols, was enacted in the same year.

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