Labour standards

Japan ratifies the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006)

Japan is the 40th ILO Member State to have its ratification registered and the 10th from the Asia-Pacific region – after Singapore, Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Philippines, Tuvalu and Viet Nam – to have ratified the international agreement.

News | 05 August 2013

The Government of Japan registered its ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) with the International Labour Office on 5 August.

With the ratification by Japan, ILO Member States representing 70.7 per cent of the world’s global shipping tonnage and more than 50 percent of the world’s estimated 1.2 million seafarers have now committed themselves to the decent work standards of the Convention, which comes into force on 20 August.

Japan is the 40th ILO Member State to have its ratification registered and the 10th from the Asia-Pacific region – after Singapore, Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Philippines, Tuvalu and Viet Nam – to have ratified the international agreement.

The new Convention will be the “fourth pillar” of the international legal regime complementing key Conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), setting international standards for training and certification of seafarers, ship safety and security, and the prevention of ship source pollution. When the MLC, 2006 enters into force on August 20, 2013, ensuring decent working and living conditions for seafarers will become a key indicator of a quality ship owner.

Japan played a key leadership role in the nearly six years of intensive tripartite meetings leading to the adoption of the MLC, 2006 in February 2006. Japan is the world’s second largest ship-owning country and among the top-ten flags of registration based on registered tonnage.

Japan is also an important country for port State control inspection of conditions on foreign flag ships and hosts the Secretariat of the Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control which is one of the most active regional port State control organizations bringing together 18 maritime authorities of the Asia-Pacific region.

In transmitting the instrument of ratification, Mr Masakuni Hirashima, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, stated: “On behalf of the Government of Japan, I am submitting the instrument of ratification of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. As a party to the Convention, Japan is determined to fulfil its obligations faithfully. I believe that Japan’s ratification marks a significant step in advancing the cause of the Convention, which is improving the working environment of seafarers while maintaining a level playing field in the international maritime market. Japan played a key role as vice-chair country in the process of developing the Convention. Japan proactively contributed to the discussion under careful consideration of the opinions from all stakeholders of each Member State in order to make the Convention most effective and to achieve a higher level of ratification. Japan, as one of the major maritime nations of the world, wishes that the purpose of the Convention is realized in due course by widespread ratification, and will continue its commitment to ensure the development of maritime industry.”

In receiving the instrument of ratification of the MLC, 2006 by Japan, Ms Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Director of the ILO’s International Labour Standards Department said: “Some two weeks before the MLC, 2006 enters into force, the ratification by an important maritime nation such as Japan clearly confirms the readiness of the key players in the global maritime industry to endorse the new regulatory framework for maritime employment. As an island nation and one of the most advanced industrial powers in Asia, Japan is dependent on sea trade and therefore on reliable and efficient shipping.”

“By ratifying the MLC, 2006, Japan recognizes the decisive role this new global standard can play in promoting the competitiveness and maintaining the excellence of the Japanese maritime industry,” Ms. Doumbia-Henry said. “I wish to thank the Government of Japan for its active and constructive engagement in the long preparatory work that eventually led to the adoption of the new Convention and I firmly believe that Japan’s ratification will pave the way for other important flag States in the region.”

The MLC, 2006 will enter into force on 20 August 2013, one year after the ILO received its 30th ratification, one of two thresholds required for its coming into force (the other requirement, that ratifying countries represent 33 percent of the world’s gross shipping tonnage, was achieved in 2009). For countries that registered their ratification after 20 August 2012, the Convention will enter into force 12 months after ratification.

For more information, please visit the dedicated MLC webpage at  www.ilo.org/mlc