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  • UN NEWS: UN expert calls on Japan to boost action in combating human trafficking

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on July 23rd, 2009

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    UN NEWS 17 JULY 2009

    UN expert calls on Japan to boost action in combating human trafficking

    17 July 2009 — Although Japan recognizes the seriousness of the problem of human trafficking within its borders, the East Asian nation must take more concrete action to fight the scourge, an independent United Nations human rights expert said today.

    “Human trafficking affects every country of the world, and Japan is clearly affected as a destination country for many of those victims,” said Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, wrapping up a six-day visit to the country.

    The majority of trafficking is for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation in Japan, but she pointed out that trafficking for labour exploitation is also cause for great concern.

    The country has adopted a National Plan of Action on trafficking. Further, Japan has granted victims special residence permits if they wish to stay in Japan and is also cooperating with sending countries, including Thailand, to support victims’ reintegration in their home countries.

    But Japan must ratify relevant international treaties; adopt a clearer identification procedure to lessen cases of victims’ misidentification; and boost training and coordination of law enforcement officials, Ms. Ngozi Ezeilo said.

    She also urged the country to take greater action at the regional level to combat trafficking and consider entering into bilateral agreements with source countries to address the problem on a long-term basis.


    Background information:

    United Nation Information Centre, Tokyo


    Press Release 09-033-E
    21 July 2009

    Visit of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children to Japan

    12-18 July 2009

    Related PR:

    Outline and Purpose of the visit:

    The Special Rapporteur, Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, will undertake a visit to Japan from 12-18 July 2009 to examine the human rights aspects of the victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children in Japan. She will meet with governmental representatives, non-governmental organizations, and other members of civil society in Tokyo and Nagoya. The objective of the visit is to engage with these various actors and seek information on a variety of issues to address trafficking in persons, including legislation, statistical information, perceived root causes, as well as regional and international cooperation to combat human trafficking. She will also emphasize protection and assistance to victims of trafficking, including steps being taken by the government of Japan and partners towards rehabilitation, reintegration and redress violations suffered by victims.

    Scope of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur:

    The scope of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate covers all forms and manifestations of trafficking, including:

    (1) Trafficking in children – children who are trafficked for sexual purposes, adoption, child labour (e.g. domestic work, babysitters/nannies, begging, criminal activities like selling drugs, etc.), and participation in armed conflict – mercenaries/child soldiers, sex slaves. The initial belief that only girl children were being trafficked for sexual purposes no longer holds true as the incidence of young boys being trafficked and sexually exploited through unsuspecting areas like sports is fast gaining ground;

    (2) Trafficking in men for forced labour and other exploitation – not much attention has been paid to this form of trafficking but the reality is that it is also becoming rampant. Men and boys in particular are trafficked for labour exploitation in construction work, in agriculture, and also in fishing and mining;

    (3) Trafficking in women and girls for forced marriage, forced prostitution, sexual exploitation and forced labour (including domestic work, working in factories and mines and other forms of labour) – understandably, much attention has been paid to sex trafficking and available data on trafficking in persons are mainly on this aspect. The Special Rapporteur will explore further trafficking of women for labour exploitation, especially in domestic work and other sectors;

    (4) Trafficking in human beings for organs, human body parts and tissue – obtaining facts and figures on this form of trafficking is quite challenging, but it is becoming a growing trend with a ready market, and needs to be studied closely with a view to framing appropriate interventions;

    (5) There are other forms that have been sporadically recorded, such as trafficking in persons for ritual purposes as well as trafficking of prisoners.[1]

    Trafficking in Human Beings – brief overview at the international level.

    The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, defines “trafficking in persons” as: “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;” Over 117 countries have signed the Protocol. Japan has signed but not ratified the Palermo Protocol (December 2002).

    In carrying out her mandate, the Special Rapporteur also refers to the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking developed by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to provide practical, rights-based approach policy guidance on the prevention of trafficking and the protection of trafficked persons and with a view to facilitating the integration of a human rights perspective into national, regional, and international anti-trafficking laws, policies and interventions. At the global level, UN.GIFT (UN Global Initiative to Fight Trafficking) was launched in March 2007 by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) with a grant made on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. (Please see It is managed in cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO); the International Organization for Migration (IOM); the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). UN.GIFT is based on the principle that this global problem requires a global, multi-stakeholder strategy that builds on national efforts throughout the world. Stakeholders must coordinate efforts already underway, increase knowledge and awareness, provide technical assistance; promote effective rights-based responses; build capacity of state and non-state stakeholders; foster partnerships for joint action; and above all, ensure that ever ybody takes responsibility for this fight. UN.GIFT works with all stakeholders – governments, business, academia, civil society and the media – to support each other’s work, create new partnerships and develop effective tools to fight human trafficking.

    On 13 May 2009, the United Nations General Assembly held an Interactive Thematic Dialogue on “Taking Collective Action to End Human Trafficking,” at which the Special Rapporteur participated. (Please see:

    Biography of the Special Rapporteur

    Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, a Nigerian national, assumed her functions as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children on 1 August 2008. Ms. Ezeilo is a human rights lawyer and professor at the University of Nigeria. She has also served in various governmental capacities, including as Honourable Commissioner for Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development in Enugu State and as a Delegate to the National Political Reform Conference. She has consulted for various international organizations and is also involved in several NGOs, particularly working on women’s rights. She has published extensively on a variety of topics, including human rights, women’s rights, and Sharia law.

    The Special Rapporteur’s annual report to the Human Rights Council (presented in March 2009) can be found at

    For more information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on
    trafficking in persons, especially women and children, please visit our
    website: Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in
    women and children.
    (Please see:

    The Special Rapporteur will present a report of the visit at a forthcoming session of the Human Rights Council at the beginning of 2010.

    For more information, please contact Valentina Milano
    Phone: +41 79 444 6129, e-mail:

    Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Media Unit
    Rupert Colville, Spokesperson: + 41 22 917 9767
    Xabier Celaya, Information Officer: + 41 22 917 9383

    For inquiries and media requests:

    * *** *
    [1] A/HRC/10/16, para. 16.

    United Nations Information Centre, Tokyo
    UNU HQs bldg. 8th floor
    5-53-70, Jingumae
    Shibuya-ku Tokyo, 151-0001
    tel: 8-3-5467-4451
    fax: 8-3-5467-4455






    7月17日 19時57分






    8 Responses to “UN NEWS: UN expert calls on Japan to boost action in combating human trafficking”

    1. HO Says:

      I think the report unrealistic.
      “(1) Trafficking in children – children who are trafficked for sexual purposes, adoption, child labour”
      Adoption? Child labour? Never heard of.

      “(2) Trafficking in men for forced labour and other exploitation”
      Never heard of these days.

      “(3) Trafficking in women and girls for forced marriage”
      Quite unlikely.

      “(4) Trafficking in human beings for organs”
      Japanese hospitals rarely transplant organs. When they do, they take organs from relatives.

      The only place they should look around is prostitution business. But in that business, it is hard to tell, in many cases, if the person is a victim or a willing professional.

      — Do a bit more careful reading. A lot of what’s being said here is part of her profile and overall mandate, not part of the issues concerning Japan.

      And if you think “forced labor and other exploitation” is unheard of, haven’t you been reading over the years about all the abuses of Trainee and Researcher visa programs? And yes, there is child labor in Japan. Of NJ. Or have you forgotten?

      You’re most assiduous with researching law and writ when you want to prove a point that Japan is innocent as charged, and that laws forbid certain behavior that victims claim is happening to them. Yet you’re mysteriously less assiduous with researching at times like these. Still waiting for you to call Azabu Police and check up how law-abiding the cops are being regarding urine samples.

    2. M Says:


      Child Labour is a huge problem worldwide in a lot of countries, but depending on what country Is having the problem, is hard for them to effectively get a grip of and stopping.

      >> “(2) Trafficking in men for forced labour and other exploitation”

      Very common in countries, Police should know this.

      You are either a troll or just very much not well informed at the state of the world we live in.

    3. adamw Says:


      good to see you resurface
      you had gone so quiet recently.
      havent heard anything more from you on the urine samples which you were also claiming couldnt happen in japan

    4. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      “(2) Trafficking in men for forced labour and other exploitation”
      Never heard of these days.

      HO, you need to see the film “Sour Strawberries”, referenced many times here on this blog. The Chinese workers in the documentary film were treated in just this way.

    5. George Says:

      From the 2009 International Trade Union Confederation report. Make of it what you will:

      III. Child Labour
      Japan ratified Convention No. 138, the Minimum Age Convention in 2000 and
      Convention No. 182, the Worst Forms of Child Labour in 2001.
      The minimum age specified in the Convention is 15 years. Children under the age of 18
      are not allowed to work in dangerous or harmful jobs. Children between the age of 13 and 15 are
      allowed to perform light work. Children under the age of 13 may be employed in the
      entertainment industry only. The law is well enforced and child labour does not generally occur.
      However, the law excludes from its application employment of children in family
      undertakings and domestic workers. Moreover, the law restricting hazardous work by children
      does not apply to children employed in family undertakings.
      Furthermore, a number of migrant children in Japan, mainly of Brazilian origin have been
      found working in factories.
      Education is free and compulsory until the age of 15.

      Child labour does not generally occur in Japan and legislation is well enforced.

      IV. Forced Labour
      Japan ratified Convention No. 29, the Forced Labour Convention in 1932 but has not
      ratified Convention No. 105, the Abolition of Forced Labour.
      Forced labour is prohibited by law and does not generally occur. There are reports that
      some companies force foreign workers to work illegal overtime, control their movements and
      travel documents, and force them to make deposits in company controlled accounts.
      The National Public Service Law and the Local Public Service Law, referred to in
      Section I above, provide that public employees who incite strike action can be fined or sentenced
      up to three years’ imprisonment, or possibly dismissed, reprimanded with a pay cut or
      disciplined. This is not in line with Convention No. 105 which prohibits penal servitude as a
      punishment for having participated in a strike.
      Trafficking for the purpose of forced prostitution or forced labour is prohibited, however
      trafficking remains a problem. Japan is a destination and transit country for men, women, and
      children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation, pornography and forced
      labour. The trafficked women and children for forced prostitution mainly come from China,
      South Korea, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Russia, and, to a lesser extent, Latin America.
      Japan is also a transit country for persons trafficked from East Asia to North America. Forced
      labour also occurs through training programmes that are characterised by fraudulent terms of
      employment, debt bondage, restrictions on movement and withholding of salary payments.

      Forced labour is prohibited and does generally not exist in Japan. However trafficking,
      mainly of women and girls, for sexual exploitation or forced work remains a serious problem.
      There are also abuses among foreign workers and trainees.

    6. HO Says:

      Debito, trainees are not victims of human trafficking.

      As to urine tests, Japan times did their job and the police finally came forward and said what they had to say.
      “3. Only those who look wasted on drugs will be asked for a urine sample; 4. Urine samples are only ever taken after persuasion, never under threat.”
      My point is that police cannot force a urine test. So, do not cooperate them unless they have a warrant.

      — You live in your own little world of denial, HO. Please only post referential links here in future, if at all. Opinions unnecessary. Your viewpoints are not arrived at through any careful consideration of the information presented.

    7. debito Says:

      U.N. critical of Japan’s efforts to combat discrimination against women
      Friday 24th July, 10:24 AM JST

      Members of a U.N. committee on Thursday issued critical comments on Japan’s efforts to eradicate discrimination against women. Independent experts of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women said Japan’s efforts to implement anti-discrimination measures as a state party to the international convention against such discrimination are insufficient.

      In a meeting to review Japan’s action to improve the situation of women, the first of its kind since 2003, some committee members accused Japan of making light of the fact that the convention is binding, according to observers from nongovernmental organizations who attended the committee meeting.

      Other members said Japan has failed to take specific measures in line with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

      Based on the comments issued at Thursday’s meeting, the committee is expected to recommend in late August that the Japanese government take remedial measures on those issues affecting women where it believes Japan should do more.

      In the 2003 review, the U.N. committee said Japan was lukewarm in implementing anti-discrimination measures and recommended action in various fields, including that of the so-called comfort women during World War II.

      In Thursday’s meeting, the committee again addressed the issue of women forced into prostitution by the Japanese military. But Japan reiterated that the issue already has been settled as the government issued an apology.

      Atsuko Okajima, who heads the Gender Equality Bureau of Japan’s Cabinet Office, downplayed the latest assessment by the U.N. committee.

      She told a news conference after the meeting that Japan has steadily implemented the measures it formulated under the basic gender equality plan devised in 2005.

      Japan signed the U.N. convention, popularly described as ‘‘an international bill of rights for women,’’ in 1980 and ratified it in 1985.

    8. Steve Silver Says:

      Debito, thank you for posting these.

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