This text is a record of the international symposium held at the Kyoto International Conference Hall to mark the centennial of the Japanese Association of International Law. The purpose of the symposium was to reflect on past Japanese practice, to analyze problems affecting Japan, and to seek to clarify the future role of Japan in the global community, in terms of international law. After joining the international community in the middle of the 19th-century, Japan adopted a policy of wealth creation and armament in order to maintain its independence against the expanding Western States. At the same time, on the domestic scene, Japan vigorously promoted the modernization and westernization of its political, economic, and social institutions. Japan emerged as one of the victorious "Principal Allied and Associated Powers" in World War I, and started asserting its place in the international order. However, in the aftermath of the Great Depression, Japan failed to reach agreement with the international community, eventually left the League of Nations, invaded the Asian continent, and met with complete military defeat in World War II.
In the subsequent years, Japan toiled to rebuild its economy and to rejoin the world community, but despite its miraculous economic recovery and expansion, Japan remains ambivalent in its policy of contributing to the maintenance of international peace and security. During these one and a half centuries the Japanese practice of international law has covered a wide range of fields. From these various fields, the symposium took up three specific topics: War and Peace, Economy, and Human Rights, because of their relevance to past Japanese practice and because future Japanese practice in these areas would be bound to affect international law in the coming century. In addition, the symposium discussed Japanese transactions, in general, with international law. The period covered by the symposium has witnessed many drastic changes in the world, and international law, which used to be applied almost exclusively to relations among the Western States, has now come to be applied universally. The Association wished to emphasize that an analysis of Japanese practice should be of significance for anyone interested in promoting and consolidating the rule of law in the world community at large.