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Hi Blog. The UN Human Rights Council has once again prodded Japan to do something to improve its record on human rights (and this time the GOJ, which must submit a report every two years, actually submitted something on time, not eight years overdue as a combined “Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Combined Report”). Here’s how the media reported on their interplay:
Japan Times Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012
U.N. prods Japan on sex slaves, gallows
GENEVA — A panel under the U.N. Human Rights Council has endorsed some 170 recommendations for Japan to improve its human rights record, including Tokyo’s handling of the so-called comfort women issue, the euphemism for the Imperial army’s wartime sex slaves.
The Universal Periodic Review’s working group, which is tasked with examining the human rights records of all U.N. member states, compiled 174 proposals for Japan in a report summarizing the findings from a session held last week.
While the recommendations are not legally binding, Japan has been asked to provide a response by March, when the Human Rights Council will convene for a regular session at the United Nations office in Geneva.
During last week’s session, China, North and South Korea, and numerous other countries proposed that Japan recognize its legal responsibility and provide adequate compensation to women forced into sexual slavery across Asia by the Imperial army before and during the war.
Other recommendations include the safeguarding of Japanese citizens’ right to lead a healthy life, in light of the enormous amount of radioactive fallout spewed over a vast area by the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The town of Futaba, which found itself in the center of the nuclear storm since it cohosts the wrecked plant, had actively campaigned for the inclusion of this right.
The report also called on Japan to abolish the death penalty after more than 20 countries, including prominent EU member states, objected to its continued use of capital punishment.
Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF
Wednesday 31 October (afternoon)
(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record. The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed. An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)
[NB: Emphasis in bold italics added by Debito.org.]
|State under review
Represented by a 30-member delegation headed by Mr. Hideaki Ueda, Ambassador in charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
||To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Japan page of the UPR website
||Bangladesh, Libya, Peru
|Opening statement by State under review
||Few points raised in the opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Japan page of the UPR extranet )
- The head of delegation noted that in July 2009 Japan ratified the Convention on enforced disappearance and in April 2010, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs set up the Division for the Implementation of Human Rights Treaties;
- In March 2011, Japan extended a standing invitation to the Special Procedures and the Special Rapporteur on the right to health was visiting the country next month;
- In September 2012, the Cabinet adopted a decision confirming the content of a Bill to establish a Human Rights Commission which will be an independent body compliant with the Paris Principles;
- The Government of Japan was of the view that the application of the death penalty was unavoidable in the case of the most heinous crimes and therefore considered that the immediate abolition of the death penalty was not appropriate;
- Japan has been working to realize a gender-equal society in various fields based on the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality formulated in December 2010; furthermore, an Action Plan for Economic Revival through Women’s Active Participation was formulated for a gender-equal society;
- Japan drew up an Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons in 2009 and in July 2011 the Government compiled guidelines outlining the measures to be taken by the concerned ministries and agencies engaged in combatting in persons;
- Japan was carrying out intensive institutional reforms concerning persons with disabilities and was moving towards an early ratification of the Convention of the rights of persons with disabilities, which it has already signed;
- In June 2008, the Diet adopted a resolution calling for the recognition of the Ainu as an indigenous people and in July 2009 the Advisory Council for the Future Ainu Policy proposed basic principles for the future Ainu policies aiming to build a rich and cohesive society where Ainu people can live with a sense of pride;
- Noting that 19 months had passed since the earthquake of March 2011, the head of delegation stated that in order to achieve reconstruction the Government was committed to alleviating the continuing hardship of the people affected by the disaster and was decisively carrying out reconstruction projects without delay;
- Responding to questions posed in advance, a member of the delegation noted that per the Constitution of direct or indirect discrimination was prohibited in Japan; as far as children who were born out of wedlock, provided that the authorities were notified of the birth the registration of the child’s birth was permissible;
- In response to questions posed by States during the review, the delegation noted that the majority of Japanese people were of the view that the death penalty was unavoidable and that a life sentence in place of a death sentence was unfair for the prisoner as they were not given the possibility of release;
- Discrimination in recruitment, wage disparity and dismissal on the basis of pregnancy were prohibited by law.
||In total 79 States participated in the dialogue: 28 HRC members and 51 observers (Statements available onthe Japan page of the UPR extranet)
||Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:
- The promotion of disaster reduction policies and efforts to respect human rights during the reconstruction;
- The extension of a standing invitation to the Special Procedures;
- Measures to uphold the rights of the child and to combat human trafficking;
- Steps to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities;
- Initiatives to prevent violence against women and to advance women’s rights and the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality;
- Achievements in the field of socio-economic development and the realization of the MDGs.
|Issues and Questions
||Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:
- Plans envisaged to abolish the death penalty or impose a moratorium;
- Efforts to reform the prison/detention system and to uphold the rights of prisoners;
- Measures to address cases of child abduction and child pornography;
- Plans to set up a national human rights commission in compliance with the Paris Principles;
- Steps to enhance the gender equality and eliminate gender stereotypes;
- Anti-discrimination legislation, particularly targeting migrants and disabled persons.
||States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Japan. These pertained to the following issues, among others:
- Abolishing the death penalty or establishing a moratorium on its use, and establishing a national dialogue in this regard; and considering imposing a life sentence in place of a death sentence;
- Reforming the detention system (Daiyo Kangoku) to bring it in line with international standards;
- Defining discrimination in national legislation in line with the CERD and prohibiting all forms of discrimination including on the basis of age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or nationality and adopting specific legislation to outlaw direct and indirect racial discrimination and guaranteeing access to effective protection and remedies through competent national courts;
- Strengthening efforts to promote and protect the rights of migrants including through public awareness and implementing a comprehensive anti-discrimination law providing effective protection against discrimination against persons with disabilities;
- Facilitating the acquisition of nationality by all children born on its territory who would otherwise be stateless and ensuring free birth registration;
- Taking further steps to raise public awareness of, and to eliminate gender stereotypes against women and ensuring greater political representation and participation of women in public life;
- Conducting a comprehensive study on the situation of minority women and developing a national strategy to improve living conditions for minority women;
- Taking measures acceptable to the victims of the issue of so-called “comfort women” who were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War;
- Adopting a plan of action to combat sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and prostitution and to provide assistance to victims of sexual exploitation, and reviewing legislation with a view of criminalizing the possession of child pornographic materials;
- Step up efforts to establish a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles;
- Protecting the right to health and life of residents living in the area of Fukushima from radioactive hazards and ensuring a visit of the Special Rapporteur on the right to health in that connection;
- Ratification of human rights instruments: the Convention on the rights of migrant workers, the Palermo protocol on human trafficking, OP to the CESCR, the 2nd OP to the ICCPR, the OPCAT, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the 3rd OP to the CRC, the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, and the OP to CEDAW.
|Adoption of reportof Working Group
||The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Japan is scheduled to take place on Friday, 2 November
- The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.
Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, firstname.lastname@example.org
So you see, once again the GOJ is avoiding the topic of creating a legal framework to protect people against racial discrimination — claiming it’s already forbidden by the Japanese Constitution (but as we’ve stressed here umpteen times, no explicit law in the Civil or Criminal Code means no enforcement of the Constitution). But all the UN HRC seems to be able to do is frown a lot and continue the talk shop. Further, the UN still chooses the word “migrants” over “immigrants”, which makes NJ (and their J children) who need these rights look like they’re only temporary workers — the “blind spot” continues. Meanwhile, Fukushima and the death penalty seem to have sucked all the oxygen out of the debate arena regarding other human rights issues.
What follows is what Japan submitted to the HRC for consideration. As you can see, it’s basically cosmetic changes, open to plenty of bureaucratic case-by-case “discretion”, amounting to little promise of fundamental systemic or structural changes. Arudou Debito
(screen captures of section pertinent to Debito.org, pages 15-16)