JAPAN'S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD
Correspondence between the Government of Japan (GOJ) and the United Nations (UN)
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
Reports and Counter-Reports on how Japan deals with domestic
issues of discrimination.
(Compiled by ARUDOU Debito,
naturalized Japanese citizen and resident of Hokkaido, Japan)
(First made public June 20, 2003)
This website contains the following information (click to page down):
INTRODUCTION: By website author ARUDOU Debito
1) JAPAN'S FIRST AND SECOND PERIODICAL REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS
2) THE UN'S RESPONSE (March 2001), AND JAPAN'S
RESPONSE (October 2001) (interspliced for ease of reading)
3) EXCERPTED RESPONSES FROM DOMESTIC HUMAN RIGHTS
GROUPS TO JAPAN'S 2001 RESPONSE (2001)
4) ADDITIONAL LINK: CCPR Committee Report
(International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, CCPR/C/79/Add.102 19 November
1998): UN scolds Japan: "human rights standards
are not determined by popularity polls".
Japan also essentially states that the CERD does not cover anyone within Japan, as
ethnic minorities who are citizens are the same race as Japanese, while foreigners,
while racially different, are not citizens, therefore unentitiled the same protections.
Page down to that section.
Note: The GOJ has not responded to any domestic counter-reports
under Item 3 above. Moreover, even though signatories are obligated to report every
two years or so, Japan has still not submitted its periodic reports to the CERD or
the CCPR Committees on domestic human rights, both due 2002, to this day (June 2003).
Introduction by ARUDOU Debito, website author
Japan has a very mixed record on human rights, especially towards ethnic minorities,
non-citizens, and other people born of distinction within its society. The Government
of Japan (GOJ) signed The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1979, then
the UN's International Convention on the Elimination
of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 1995 (effected January 14, 1996). Under the
CERD, Japan promised to take measures (including legislation) at all levels of government
to eliminate racial discrimination "without delay". Despite this, Japan
to this day remains the only developed country without any form of a law at any level
outlawing discrimination by race.
Japan officially maintains (see below) that its legal system provides
adequate protection against and redress for racial discrimination, therefore a specific
law against it is unnecessary. But as demonstrated in
- 1) the Otaru Onsens Case (where "foreigners",
including naturalized Japanese citizens and their international children, were refused
entry to a series of public baths in Otaru between 1993 and 2001, while the Otaru
City Government was exonerated in court for refusing to take any effective measures
to stop it; case is still on appeal),
- 2) statements by Tokyo Governor ISHIHARA Shintarou (who
wrote in May 2001 that Chinese have criminal tendencies due to their "ethnic
DNA", and called upon Japan's Self Defense Forces in April 2000 to round up
all "illegal foreigners" on sight in the event of a natural disaster),
- 3) The Community
Website (where an archive of domestic discrimination against non-citizens by
race or appearance has been compiled over several years),
the government's claims of sufficient protection from and redress for racial discrimination
are simply not true.
In the face of Japan's internationalizing society (where more than 30,000 international
marriages happen every year in Japan, giving birth to thousands of international
children--who as Japanese citizens are not statistically registered as "foreigners",
yet whose appearance is not necessarily "Japanese") has led to a legal
paradox: these abovementioned discriminatory acts, clearly "unconstitutional"
under Article 14 of Japan's Constitution, are not "illegal". This means
that anti-discrimination measures are unenforcable outside of a Japanese courtroom
(which in Japan requires great financial and time investments for little compensation,
not to mention weathering the social stigma of going to court in Japan). Moreover,
Japan's conservative judiciary has been criticized by the UN for not implementing
international agreements (see below), making the GOJ's claims
of an adequate system of social checks and balances ring even more hollow.
The UN is aware of this situation. Japan's recent history of interactions with the
UN has shown a legacy of official scoldings, broken treaty promises, and "excessively
late" reports from the GOJ--visible below and within a 1998 CCPR
Committee Report (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
CCPR/C/79/Add.102 19 November 1998). They indicate that the UN routinely criticizes
the GOJ on its human rights record, even to the point of sarcasm ("human
rights standards are not determined by popularity polls", CCPR, 1998).
The following information site, focussing on the interaction between the GOJ and
the CERD Committee, will demonstrate how Japan's government wilfully abdicates its
international responsibilities, and lay bare what ideology is used to justify it.
The website author has compiled three reports in one place for ease of reference
and readability. Readers are asked to bear in mind that official papers like these
are by their nature long and bureaucratic in tone, but for the record, three official
responses--one from the UN, two from Japan--are enclosed in full, with occasional
comments and links inserted by the author to demonstrate that GOJ claims are often
misrepresentations of the truth. Emphases have also been added
in red by the author to highlight contentious points. With this information
site, the author hopes that a wider knowledge of the situation may persuade a recalcitrant
Japanese government to keep its international promises, and enshrine in law the fundamentals
of a society with more opportunities for all its members and residents--regardless
of race, color, historical or national origin, or other criteria socially preordained
1) JAPAN'S FIRST AND SECOND PERIODICAL REPORT (combined into
one by the GOJ) ON HUMAN RIGHTS, SUBMITTED TO THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON
RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND, June 1999 (NB: submitted over
a year after the January 1998 deadline)
Courtesy of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs website
(Japanese original at http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/jinshu/99/1.html)
NB: Emphases in red and
links to evidence contradicting GOJ claims have been added by Arudou Debito, the
creator of this information site.
1. Japan acceded to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Racial Discrimination on 15 December 1995. The Constitution of Japan stipulates
in Paragraph 1 of Article 14 that all the people are equal under the law. The International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights, to which Japan became party in 1979, also prohibit discrimination
on the grounds of race or ethnicity. Based on the above principle of the Constitution
and the Covenants, Japan has been striving to realize a society without any form
of racial or ethnic discrimination. In concluding the Convention, Japan reconfirmed
the principle of the Constitution, and will continue to make efforts to achieve a
society in which each person is respected as an individual and can fully develop
his or her own personality.
2. Guided by this principle, Japan engages in various activities against racial discrimination
in international settings. Japan consistently expresses its position against racial
discrimination in the United Nations fora by calling for the necessity to adopt all
necessary measures to eliminate any racial or ethnic prejudice. It also contributes
to international society by supporting adoption of resolutions aiming at elimination
of racial discriminations, establishment of related funds and convening related conferences
as well as by making contributions to the Trust Fund for the Programme for the Decade
for Action to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination each year.
Respect for Fundamental Human Rights in the Constitution of Japan
3. The Constitution of Japan, the supreme law in Japan's legal system, is based
on the principle of people's sovereignty. Respect for fundamental human rights is
one of its important pillars, together with pacifism. The fundamental human rights
guaranteed by the Constitution are "conferred upon this and future generations
in trust, to be held for all time inviolate" (Article 97), and the philosophy
of respect for fundamental human rights is clearly shown in Article 13, which provides
that "all of the people shall be respected as individuals." The fundamental
human rights include: (1) civil liberties such as the right to liberty, the right
to freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion; and (2) social rights
such as the right to receive education and the right to maintain the minimum standards
of wholesome and cultured living. Paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Constitution provides
that "all of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination
in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status
or family origin," guaranteeing equality before the law without any discrimination,
including either racial or ethnic discrimination, which is the subject of this Convention.
Foreign residents in Japan are also guaranteed fundamental
human rights under the Constitution except the rights which, owing to their nature,
are interpreted to be applicable only to Japanese nationals (*1).
*1 In this report, the fact that the treatment of foreigners
in Japan has been focused on does not mean that Japan considers distinction based
on nationality as the subject of the Convention.
4. These provisions stipulated in the Constitution bind together the three sources
of power, the legislative, administrative and judicial. The three powers of legislation,
administration and judicature belong to the Diet, the Cabinet and the Court, respectively.
The protection of human rights, including the elimination of racial discrimination,
is ensured through rigorous mutual restraint.
The Diet, the highest organ of State power, consists of duly elected representatives
of the people and exercises legislative power to protect the people's rights and
freedom as the sole legislative organ. The Cabinet (the administrative organ) protects
the people's rights and freedom by duly implementing the laws enacted by the Diet.
(See Article 6 for the structure of Human Rights Organs
established within administrative organs to protect human rights) Furthermore,
in cases where the rights of the people are infringed, the Court can offer them redress.
(Article 32 of the Constitution provides that "no person shall be denied the
right of access to the courts.")
- (NB: One example of racial discrimination offered redress in court: The Otaru
Onsens Case (1993-present day), see http://www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html.
Redress has been insufficent and difficult to achieve.)
The Constitution guarantees the judges of their tenure and ensures independent and
fair trials, providing that "all judges shall be independent in the exercise
of their conscience and shall be bound only by this Constitution and the laws."
(Article 76, Paragraph 3)
5. Provisions of treaties concluded by Japan have legal effect
as a part of domestic laws in accordance with Paragraph 2 of Article 98 of the Constitution,
which provides the obligation to observe treaties and international laws and regulations.
Whether or not to apply provisions of the conventions directly is judged in each
specific case, taking into consideration the purpose, meaning and wording
of the provisions concerned.
- (NB: In the Otaru Onsens Case (1999-present day, see http://www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html
), the CERD was judged to be inapplicable on Nov 11, 2002, and the Otaru City government
was exonerated of all responsibility to legislate, or even eliminate, racial discrimination
within its jurisdiction.)
Land and Population
6. Japan's total land area is 377,819 square kilometers and is comprised of 6,852
islands including the four major islands of Honshu (227,909 square kilometers), Hokkaido
(77,979 square kilometers), Kyushu (36,719 square kilometers), and Shikoku (18,294
square kilometers). (See Annex 1 for economic and social indexes.)
7. As of 1 October 1997, Japan's total population was estimated at 126,166,000.
However, the ethnic characteristics of Japan are not clear
since Japan does not conduct population surveys from an ethnic viewpoint.
On the other hand, the Ainu, who lived in Hokkaido before the arrival of Wajin (*3),
continue to maintain their ethnic identity with continuous efforts to pass on their
own language and culture. Their population in Hokkaido was estimated at 23,830 according
to the Survey on the Hokkaido Utari Living Conditions conducted by the government
of Hokkaido Prefecture in 1993. (*4 See Annex 2.)
*2 The number of naturalized Japanese nationals was 301,828 as of the end of 1998.
The ratio of naturalized people to Japan's total population is not clear since it
is difficult to obtain information on the exact number of persons deceased after
*3 Wajin refers to all other Japanese, except the Ainu themselves.
*4 In this survey, "Ainu" refers to "the people in the local community
who are considered to have inherited the Ainu blood and those who reside with the
Ainu people due to marriage or adoption." However, a person is not included
in the survey when that person refuses to be identified as Ainu in spite of the likelihood
of his or her being of Ainu descent. "Ainu" are sometimes called "Utari."
In the Ainu language, "Ainu" means a "human being"; "Utari",
8. Recently, the number of registered aliens in Japan has been increasing. (*5 See
Annex 3) According to Ministry of Justice statistics on alien registration, the number
of foreigners registered in each municipality as of the end of 1998 is 1,512,116
(1.20% of Japan's total population), a record high. This figure is 191,368 (14.5%)
larger than that of five years ago (end of 1999), and 571,111 (60.7%) larger than
that of ten years ago (end of 1988). As for classification by nationality (birthplace),
Koreans are the largest (42.2% of the total), followed by Chinese (18.0%), and Brazilians
(14.7%). (See Annex 4 and 5.)
*5 A foreigner is to apply for his/her registration to the head of the municipality
in which his/her residence is located within ninety days of the day of his/her entry
into Japan (within sixty days of the day of his/her birth, etc.), and the registration
is closed due to departure from Japan, naturalization as a Japanese citizen, or death.
Often no registration takes place when a foreigner leaves Japan within ninety days
9. With regard to refugees, Japan concluded, in 1981, the Convention relating to
the Status of Refugees of 1951, and in 1982, the Protocol relating to the Status
of Refugees of 1967. As a result, Japan revamped the Immigration Control Order as
the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, establishing the refugee recognition
system and has implemented it since January 1982. In all, 234 persons have been recognized
as refugees as of the end of June 1999. Japan allows settlement of the refugees from
three Indochinese countries (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia), and its number reached
10,465 persons as of the end of June 1999.
The Ainu People
Survey on Hokkaido Utari Living Conditions
10. The government of Hokkaido Prefecture conducted four surveys in 1972, 1979, 1986
and 1993, respectively, on the living conditions of the Ainu people. (See Annex 2.)
According to the "1993 Hokkaido Utari Living Conditions Survey," the Ainu
people's living standard is continuing to improve as explained below, although the
gap with other residents in the district of the Ainu people's residence has not yet
As for their education, the ratio of Ainu youth who go on to high school is 87.4%,
and the ratio of Ainu youth who go on to university (including junior college) is
11.8%. The change of the ratio indicates a steady improvement in the Ainu access
to high school and college. However, a gap still exists as 96.3% of all youth enter
high school and 27.5% of all youth enter college in municipalities where the Ainu
Concerning the employment ratio by industry, 34.6% of the Ainu people work in primary
industries (22.2% for fisheries), 32.4% work in secondary industries (22.3%in construction),
and 32.0% work in tertiary industries (13.1% in the service industry). The ratio
of workers in the primary industries decreased and the ratio of workers in the tertiary
industries increased from the previous survey. This is the same trend as in the municipalities.
The ratio of application of public assistance for the Ainu (the ratio of public assistance
recipients among the population of 1,000) is 38.8%, which is a 22.1 point decrease
from the 1986 survey. The gap is slowly continuing to decrease. In the 1972 survey,
the ratio for the Ainu was 6.6 times more than that of the total population in the
municipalities where the Ainu people resided, but the difference dropped to 3.5 times
in the 1979 survey, 2.8 times in 1986 survey, and 2.3 times in 1993 survey. The decrease
in the public assistance application ratio shows the positive effects of the Hokkaido
Utari measures, which include a facility improvement project to ameliorate overall
living environment such as local roads and community centers, the consolidation of
infrastructure in the area of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, the development
of small and medium enterprises to expand sales channels of Ainu arts and crafts,
and measures for employment stability and technology training.
11. According to the 1993 survey, 17.4% of the Ainu answered that they have experienced
discrimination at school, at job interviews or in making marriages, or that they
knew of someone who had experienced such discrimination, although conditions had
greatly improved since the previous survey.
Hokkaido Utari Welfare Measures
12. The government of Hokkaido Prefecture works to improve the living standard of
the Ainu people, taking into account the results of the aforementioned Living Conditions
Survey, to redress the imbalance with other Hokkaido residents by means of the "Hokkaido
Utari Welfare Measures," which have been implemented four times since 1974.
These measures include the promotion of education and culture, the maintenance of
livelihood opportunities, and the promotion of industries. For example, the government
offers entrance allowances and grants (loans for college students) to encourage Ainu
students to attend high school and college to eliminate the existing gap in educational
opportunities between the Ainu and other residents.
The Government of Japan held the "Joint Meeting of the Related Ministries Engaged
in the Hokkaido Utari Measures " in 1974 to cooperate with and promote the above-
mentioned measures led by the government of Hokkaido Prefecture. Thus, the Government
ensures close cooperation among the related administrative organs to obtain sufficient
budget for the Hokkaido Utari Welfare Measures.
13. The human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice promote nationwide public
relations activities to raise awareness of the human rights of the Ainu. They have
prepared and distributed a material titled "The Ainu People and Human Rights."
Legal Affairs Bureaus in Hokkaido and District Legal Affairs Bureaus consider the
motto, "Eliminate Discrimination against the Ainu People," as their major
goal. They discuss the Ainu problem at lectures and study groups on human rights
in general and hand out brochures and leaflets on such occasions as well as on the
Round Table on the Policy for the Ainu People
14. Under these circumstances, a "Round Table on a Policy for the Ainu People"
started up in March 1995, following a request by the Chief Cabinet Secretary to study
the future measures for the Ainu people. The group discussed the status of the Ainu
people in Japan from various angles, calling for hearings with specialists in academic
spheres such as natural anthropology, history, ethnology and international law. They
have also studied new fundamental concepts and policies for future concrete measures
and submitted a report in April 1996 to the Chief Cabinet Secretary. The report states
that, at present, the Ainu people lead lives that differ little from those of any
other constituents of the society, linguistically as well as culturally; moreover,
that there is an extremely limited number of people who can speak Ainu language.
However, it states that the Ainu people are recognized to maintain their ethnic identity
in view of their sense of belonging and their various activities. The report also
states that, considering the characteristics and circumstances of the Ainu people,
who have lived in Hokkaido, Japan's inherent territory, since the end of the middle
ages even before the arrival of Wajin, the Government should take all possible measures,
including legislative measures, to realize a society in which the pride of the Ainu
people is respected, by conserving and promoting the Ainu language and traditional
15. Having studied the content of the report with due respect to its spirit, the
Government submitted the Law for the Promotion of the Ainu Culture and for the Dissemination
and Advocacy for the Traditions of the Ainu and the Ainu culture, in view of the
current situation of the Ainu tradition and culture (hereinafter "the Ainu tradition"),
which is the source of their ethnic pride. The said law was adopted in May 1997 and
took effect in July 1997, and accordingly, the Government, local governments and
designated legal persons have carried out the necessary measures to promote the Ainu
culture including the Ainu language and to raise awareness on the knowledge about
the Ainu tradition.
Foreigners in Japan
16. Japan adopts a system of status of residence as a basic framework for foreigners
to enter and stay in Japan. That is, to accept foreigners in harmony with the development
of Japanese society, the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act sets "the
status of residence" by categorizing activities which foreigners are authorized
to engage in by entering and staying, or personal relationship or status with which
foreigners are authorized to enter and stay. Foreigners are not allowed to enter
or stay in Japan unless foreigners fall under any of the status of residence. Thus,
the Government controls the entry and length of stay of foreigners. A foreigner is
given one of the statuses upon permission of entry and stay. The Alien Registration
Law requires a foreigner to register to the head of the municipalities in which his/her
residence is located in order to put under proper control over the aliens residing
in Japan by clarifying matters pertaining to their residence and status.
17. As for classification by status of residence as of the end of 1998, 41.4% of
the total number of registered foreigners stay under the status of "Special
Permanent Resident" or "Permanent Resident," 17.5% stay under "Spouse
or Child of Japanese national" and 14.0% stay under "Long-Term Resident."
Some 7.9% of all foreigners are under the statuses with which those foreigners are
allowed to work. As of the end of 1998, their number reached 118,996 which is 11,698
(10.9%) more than in the previous year. As for classification by region of origin,
91.6% of the total number of registered foreigners under "Entertainer,"
85.5% under "Engineer" and 88.2% under "Skilled Labor" are from Asia. Some 64.6% under "Instructor" and
53.7% under "Religious Activities" are from North America. (*6)
*6 "Entertainer" refers to activities to engage in
theatrical performances, musical performances, sports or any other show business.
"Engineer" refers to activities to engage in service, which requires technology
and/or knowledge pertinent to physical science, engineering or other natural science
field. "Skilled Labor" refers to activities to engage in service, which
requires industrial techniques or skills belonging to special field. "Instuctor"
refers to activities to engage in language instruction and other education at elementary
schools, junior high schools, high schools, advanced vocational schools or the other
educational institutions equivalent to vocational schools in facilities and curriculum.
"Religious Activities" refers to activities to engage in Missionary and
other religious activities conducted by foreign religionists dispatched by foreign
Those who have already entered the country and illegally engaged in labor activities
against the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act will be deported. Should cases of non-payment of wages or labor accidents (protection
under workmen's compensation insurance applies also to illegal residents.) be discovered,
however, related administrative organs will, in close cooperation with each other,
take necessary remedial measures.
18. Regarding the acceptance of foreign workers, "the Eighth Employment Measure
Basic Plan" in December 1995 in the Cabinet decided the principle as follows:
the plan calls for acceptance of foreign workers in professional and technical fields
as long as possible, and conditions for inspection regarding the statuses of residence
should be reviewed in accordance with changes in the economic and social situation
On the other hand, with respect to the matter of accepting workers for so-called
unskilled labour, there is concern that a wide range of influences may occur in the
Japanese economy and society as a result of this, such as pressure on older Japanese
workers for whom employment opportunities are rather insufficient; occurrence of
new dual structure in the labour market; concern about unemployment as a result of
business fluctuations; occurrence of additional new social burdens; etc. These matters
also have an extremely great influence upon foreign workers themselves as well as
on the countries to which they belong. For these reasons, the plan requires careful
consideration of this matter in accordance with consensus among the Japanese people.
Based on the aforementioned policy, in principle, no foreigner is permitted to enter
the country to engage in unskilled labour.
19. The number of foreigners illegally overstaying in Japan was 106,497 as of 1 July
1990, and increased dramatically in 1991 and 1992, hitting a peak of 298,646 on May
1, 1993. Since then, the number, though still large, has slightly declined. It was
271,048 as of 1 Jan. 1999. More than half of the total number of these illegal foreign
used to work for a period of less than one year, but recently, approximately 70%
of the total illegal aliens have been working for a period of more than one year,
indicating a trend toward a longer illegal working period.
The increase of illegal workers not only makes the proper management of immigration
control difficult but also gives rise to criminal acts such as intermediary exploitation,
forced labor and infringements on human rights. To prevent illegal labor, the authorities
concerned, in cooperation with each other, give several guidance to the employers
and apprehend job brokers, organized crime members and disreputable employers who
might have connections with illegal workers' entry and/or employment. The
human rights protection authorities of the Legal Affairs Bureau offer counseling
services regarding human rights to even illegal workers and illegal foreign residents
to protect their human rights. In counseling, the authorities treat these
people equally as any other foreigners, and take care to protect their privacy.
- (NB: Sometimes this "protection of privacy" has been
used as an excuse for the GOJ to refuse to disclose information an individual seeking
information about him or herself. See http://www.debito.org/policeapology.html,
where a naturalized Japanese, stopped for questioning by police in Dec 2002 for no
reason but for the fact that he looked foreign, took the situation up with the Legal
Affairs Bureau. Believing that the LAB was not doing their job fully, he asked for
more information about the official processes of his case under the Freedom of Information
Act, only to be refused by the LAB--"for
the protection of his own privacy". )
Human Rights of Foreigners in Japan
20. The Constitution of Japan guarantees fundamental human rights to foreign
residents in Japan except the rights which, owing to their nature, are interpreted
to be applicable only to Japanese nationals. Thus, the Government actively pursues
the goals of (1) ensuring equal rights and opportunities for foreigners, (2) respecting
foreigners' own cultures and values, and (3) promoting mutual understanding to realize
a society in which Japanese and foreigners can live together comfortably.
In 1979, Japan ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Japan acceded
in 1981 to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951 and
in 1982 to the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees of 31 January 1967. In
accordance with these conventions, the Government ensures equality between Japanese
nationals and foreign nationals in many areas.
21. With regard to education, for example, Japan guarantees equal rights to education
and equal treatment (no tuition fees, free textbooks, etc.) for the children of foreign
nationals who wish to study at public schools for compulsory education. Employment
exchange service is also provided to all people without racial or ethnic discrimination.
Moreover, discriminatory treatment with regard to labor conditions based on nationality
is prohibited and punishable by law. Furthermore, public housing
is available for foreign nationals as well as Japanese nationals as long as they
register their domicile and identity at the municipalities of their residence.
Social security is also granted on the basis of the principle of equality regardless
of nationality. For example, the nationality requirement for
joining the National Pension and the National Health Insurance as well as
for receiving Child Allowance and Child-Rearing Allowance has
been abolished. In addition, permanent residents and settled residents residing
in Japan in the same way as Japanese nationals can be provided, as an administrative
measure, public assistance under conditions identical to those of Japanese nationals.
(See Article 5.)
- (NB: The right of access to public housing is not always guaranteed.
Shiga Prefecture refused all foreigners in their prefectural housing until July 2002,
when the Mainichi Shinbun reported the case, and the Shiga Governor stepped in hours
later to abolish the guidelines. See http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#housing.
The Shizuoka Prefectural Government has also denied foreigners access to National
Health Insurance for many years (since the national government has indicated that
qualifications for acceptance are within the jurisdiction of the prefectural governments).
This was officially discontinued, in Shizuoka at least, under the Hamamatsu Sengen
of October 2001. See http://www.debito.org/hamamatsusengen.html.
Since so many cases such as these are matters left to the regional governments, it
is questionable whether the GOJ's assertion above that these requirements have been
To improve administrative services for foreigners, local governments provide various
kinds of information in major foreign languages by distributing brochures, offering
counseling services and taking measures for Japanese language education. Moreover,
foreign language training is conducted for civil servants who have frequent contact
with foreign residents on the job.
22. On the other hand, with the rapid increase in the number of foreign residents,
there are reported incidents of human rights violation against foreigners among individuals
due to differences of language, religion, custom and practice. These include discriminatory
treatment of foreigners in various daily life situation. Some
of the cases handled by the human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice include
the refusals of apartment rental or entrance to a public swimming pool on the grounds
of being a foreigner. The Government takes these incidents as serious human rights
violations against foreign residents in Japan, and it requests that the related groups
and authorities remove the prejudice and misunderstanding against foreigners at all
possible times with a view to realizing a society in which all Japanese nationals
and foreigners can live comfortably together. It also promotes nationwide campaigns
to raise public awareness of this issue. (See Articles
6 and 7.)
- (NB: The swimming pool incident (The Azumamura Case) referred to above
was resolved not by government action, but by public shame after exposure through
NGOs and local newspapers. More at http://www.issho.org.
As for apartment rentals: Any longer-term resident in Japan can attest that rental
agencies and landlords refuse foreigners frequently and with impunity, and the government
essentially takes no action. The administative authorities cannot, as there is no
law against this practice. Nor is there any government organ specifically entrusted
with housing problems (except for the abovementioned Legal Affairs Bureau, but they
are understaffed, underbudgeted, and can by law merely "request", not enforcably
demand, that this practice desist (in the form of "enlightenment" (keihatsu)).
There are no sanctions for those who do not desist, and as the Chitose Airport Police
Case indicates (http://www.debito.org/policeapology.html),
there is often no followup from the LAB itself . The UN's CCPR
Committee has called the LAB ineffectual, calling for an independent ombudsman system
as far back as 1998, to no avail. Finally, the author of this website, a resident
of Japan since 1987, is unaware of any "nationwide campaigns to raise awareness
of this issue"--so if they are happening, they are not reaching the people who
need them most.)
Koreans Residents in Japan [sic]
23. The majority of Korean residents, who constitute about half of the foreign
population in Japan, are Koreans or their descendants who came
to reside in Japan for various reasons during 36 years (1910-1945) of Japan's so-called
rule over Korea and continued to reside in Japan after having lost Japanese
nationality, which they held during the time of Japan's rule, with the enforcement
of the San Francisco Peace Treaty (April 28, 1952).
The Korean residents are divided into those who have obtained the nationality of
the Republic of Korea of their own will and those who have not, under the current
circumstances in which the Korean Peninsula is divided into the Republic of Korea
and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
These residents stay in Japan under the status of "Special Permanent Resident".
Its number is 528,450 as of the end of 1998. (The total number of "Special Permanent
Resident" is 533,396, including 4,349 Chinese nationals and people of other
nationalities) As for region of their residence, about half of these Korean residents
live in the Kinki region centering around Osaka, and about 20 % of them live in the
Kanto region such as Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture.
The number of "Special Permanent Resident" continues to decrease every
year due to the settlement and naturalization of the Korean residents in Japanese
24. The Constitution guarantees the human rights of these people as mentioned before,
although they do not have the rights that are not applicable to foreign nationals
such as suffrage or freedom of entry into Japan, because they do not have Japanese
nationality. Thus, Korean residents in Japan are basically treated in the same way
as other foreign residents under the domestic law. However, in light of their historical
background and their permanent living conditions, the Government has taken various
measures so that these people can have a stable life in Japan.
25. The Governments of Japan and the Republic of Korea had discussed the legal status
of third- generation Korean residents and their descendants since 1988 based on the
"Agreement on the Legal Status and the Treatment of Nationals of the Republic
of Korea Residing in Japan." (*7) The negotiations came to an end when the (then)
Prime Minister Kaifu visited the Republic of Korea in 1991, and a memorandum was
signed by the Foreign Ministers of Japan and the Republic of Korea.
Following the above-mentioned consultations, the Government of Japan has been making
sincere efforts to stabilize the life of Korean residents in Japan as follows:
*7 It was concluded to normalize diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic
of Korea by solving various issues. This is an agreement which entered into force
simultaneously with "the Agreement on the Basic Relationship between Japan and
the Republic of Korea" (Agreement No. 25 in 1965), stipulating the permanent
residence, education, public assistance, national health insurance, ownership of
property, and remittance of the Korean residents in Japan.
(1) Legal Status
26. Following the said Agreement in January 1991, "the Special Law on the Immigration
Control of Those Who Have Lost Japanese Nationality and Others on the Basis of the
Treaty of Peace with Japan" (hereinafter, referred to as "the Immigration
Control Special Law") was promulgated on 10 May 1991, and took effect on 1 November
1991. The said Special Law aims to stabilize the legal status of the people and their
descendants who have continued to reside in Japan since before the end of World War
II and lost their Japanese nationality with the enforcement
of the Peace Treaty with Japan. The said Law was enacted on the basis of the
results of discussions on the legal status agreement between Japan and the Republic
of Korea as mentioned above. However, the said Law is applicable, regardless of nationality,
to the people and their descendants who lost Japanese nationality based on the San
Francisco Peace Treaty, because it is appropriate to give the same legal status to
the North Korean and the Taiwanese residents in Japan who have a similar historical
background and settlement status to the South Korean residents in Japan.
The Immigration Control Special Law includes the following favorable measures:
(a) Special Conditions for Deportation
27. The reasons for deportation for special permanent resident are restricted
to the extreme minimum to further stabilize the legal status of the special permanent
residents: the reasons are restricted to crimes concerning insurrection and foreign
aggression; crimes concerning foreign relations (damage or destruction of foreign
flag, etc., preparation and plots for private war, violation of neutrality ordinances);
crimes affecting diplomatic relations (violence and defamation of the heads of foreign
states or diplomatic missions); and, crimes gravely harming national interests (the
violation of the Explosive Control Act for the purpose of destroying the democratic
judicial order, homicide, or arson). So far no one has been deported for the aforementioned
reasons set out in Article 9 of the Immigration Control Special Law.
(b) Special Valid Period for Re-entry Permit
28. For cases in which the special permanent residents work abroad as corporate
representatives or study abroad, the valid period for re-entry permit is set at within
four years (one year for foreigners stayed under other status). One year of extension
within five years in total from the original permit (within two years for foreigners
stayed under other status) is permitted in the case of an application made outside
of Japan. This facilitates the special permanent residents who live abroad for a
long period of time.
(c) Special Conditions for Landing Examination
29. When the special permanent residents who have left Japan with a re-entry permit
re-enter the country, Immigration Inspectors examine only the validity of their passport
among landing conditions under Article 7, Paragraph 1, item 1 of the Immigration
Control and Refugee Recognition Act, and do not examine items for landing refusal.
Thus, the Government tries to stabilize the status of the permanent resident.
30. Japanese public schools at the compulsory education level accept foreign nationals
if they wish to attend school. These persons are treated in the same way as Japanese
nationals with regard to free tuition, free textbooks and qualification to enter
upper schools. (See Article 5, Education.) Scholarship
are also granted to Korean and other foreign residents with permanent resident status
under the same conditions as Japanese nationals.
In the memorandum (refer to para. 25) of the Consultation between Japan and the Republic
of Korea on the third-generation of Korean residents in Japan, it is stated that
the Government of Japan would take proper measures to continue smoothly the extracurricular
study of the Korean language and culture conducted with the concurrence of the local
governments, with the understanding of the Korean society's wish to maintain their
ethnic traditions and culture including the study of the Korean language. In line
with the above-mentioned memorandum, the Japanese Government instructs the local
governments to take appropriate measures so that such study can be continued without
any difficulties. Actually, several local public entities offer such educational
At the social education level likewise, opportunities to learn the foreign cultures
of South/North Korea and the Korean language are offered, according to the local
needs, in classes and lectures for youth, adults and women at social education facilities
such as citizen's public halls.
31. Most of the Korean residents who do not wish to be educated
in Japanese schools attend North/South Korean schools. Most of these schools
have been approved by prefectural governors as miscellaneous schools (*8). However,
because no specific legal provisions have been stipulated on the educational content
of these schools, and because it is difficult to confirm that the graduates of these
schools have an academic ability equal to or higher than that of graduates of regular
high schools (*9), these graduates are not considered to meet
college entry qualifications.
The Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture will decide to ease the qualification
for taking the University Entrance Qualification Examination in September 1999 so
that students studying in foreign schools in Japan can institutionally have a chance
to enter Japanese universities. In addition, the Ministry will also decide in August
1999 to ease the qualification for entering Japanese graduate schools so that even
persons who have not graduated from universities will be able to enter them through
the examination of his/her research ability conducted in the graduate schools concerned.
*8 "Miscellaneous school" refers to an educational institution giving education
as school education other than schools specified in Article 1 of the School Education
Law. However, it does not include human resources development center, etc. which
has special provisions under other laws and specialized school.
*9 "High school" refers to one of the educational institutions specified
in Article 1 of the School Education Law, which gives high-level ordinary education
and professional education according to physical and mental development based on
the foundation laid by junior high school education. The high school educational
curricula is based on the Course of Study prescribed by the Ministry of Education,
Science and Culture in accordance with Article 43 of the School Education Law and
Article 57-2 of the Regulation of the said Law.
32. With regard to employment exchange and labor conditions, discriminatory treatment
on the basis of race or nationality is strictly prohibited. The Government, for the
sake of Korean residents in Japan, makes efforts to instruct and enlighten employers
by conducting public relations activities to provide a proper understanding and recognition
of equal employment opportunities and by giving individual guidance to companies
engaged in improper businesses.
Japanese nationality is required for civil servants who participates
in the exercise of public power or in the public decision-making, but it is
understood that Japanese nationality is not necessarily required for civil servants
who do not engage in the above-mentioned work. Korean residents
in Japan have been employed as civil servants according to the above-mentioned principle.
- (NB: Under the so-called "Nationality Clause" (often erroneously
referred to when refusing permanent tenure to full-time foreign academics at National
and Public Universities--see http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkisei),
foreigners of all stripes are refused equal opportunities for promotion and stable
uncontracted full-time employment, not just Koreans. "Employed as civil servants"
does not necessarily mean "employed equal to Japanese as civil servants".
Usually they are not. It is left up to the local governments to decide whether their
foreign residents enjoy that privilege. See http://www.debito.org/ninkiseiupdate1hiring.html)
33. The Government recognizes that an understanding of Korean residents among
the Japanese people has deepened and there is less discrimination against them owing
to such factors as the change of their social circumstances inside as well as outside
of Japan, the dissemination of the spirit of respect for human rights among people,
education to promote understanding of these people at school and in social education
facilities, the guidance and awareness activities by each ministry including the
human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice, and awareness-raising efforts of
NGOs. On the other hand, however, discrimination among individuals still exists in
daily life such as discrimination on occasions of employment and housing rentals,
in discriminatory remarks and graffiti. (See Articles 4
and 6.) Under such circumstances, some Korean residents
in Japan use Japanese names as common names in daily life for fear that they may
face prejudice or discrimination if they use their native Korean names. The Government
is seriously concerned that misguided prejudice and discrimination, which are counter
to the principle of equality of all persons, still exists among the Japanese people.
Thus, the Japanese government will make further efforts to consolidate measures on
remedies for victims as well as to promote, through the related authorities, human
rights education at school and social education facilities, continuous guidance,
and PR activities to the related organizations and groups. (See Article
(a) Treatment of Refugees
34. Japan concluded, in 1981, the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of
28 July 1951, and in 1982, the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees of 1967.
As a result, Japan revamped the Immigration Control Order as the Immigration Control
and Refugee Recognition Act, establishing the refugee recognition system, and has
implemented it since January 1982. When an application for the refugee recognition
is submitted, the Minister of Justice conducts an investigation into the case and
thereafter judges properly whether it is applicable to the difinition of Article
1 of the Convention and the Protocol or not. Therefore the Government sincerely and
strictly implements its obligations provided in the Convention and the Protocol.
Japan ensures, after accepting the person as a refugee, equal treatment for the refugee
with its own nationals in accordance with the Convention, providing various protection
and humanitarian aid including employment, education, social security and housing.
Data on the process of refugee recognition from 1982 to the end of June 1999 are
Applications accepted 1,790
Not approved 1,170
Under process 109
(b) Indochinese Refugees
(i) Acceptance of settlement in Japan
35. After having permitted settlement of the Vietnamese refugees who had been staying
in Japan temporarily in 1978, Japan expanded the condition of the settlement permit
to include the Indochinese refugees staying in Asian countries in 1979. Japan then
eased permit conditions twice, allowing settlement of those who had been staying
in Japan as foreign students before the political changes took place in the three
Indochinese nations and those who have entered Japan as family members under the
Official Departure Program (ODP). With the development of the settlement facilitation
system, the quata to accept has been gradually enlarged and the limit on the acceptance
number was abolished in 1994. As of the end of June 1999, the number of Indochinese
refugees settled in Japan is 10,465.
The breakdown is as follows:
||Total No. of settled residents
||From facilities in Japan
||From facilities abroad
||Former foreign students
(As of June, 1999)
(ii) Settlement Facilitation Measures for the Indochinese Refugees
36. With Cabinet approval in 1979, the Government decided to offer Japanese language
education, occupational training and employment service to Indochinese refugees with
a view to facilitating their settlement in Japan, and entrusted the implementation
of these projects to the Asia Welfare Education Foundation. The said Foundation established
the Refugee Project Headquarters followed by the Himeji Settlement Facilitation Center
in Hyogo Prefecture (closed in March 1996) and the Yamato Settlement Facilitation
Center in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1980 (closed in March 1998). In 1983, it opened
the International Rescue Center in Tokyo. Most refugees stay in one of these centers
for six months, at which time they learn the Japanese language and the means to adjust
to life in Japan while receiving living expenses. Moreover, these centers arrange
for adoption or seek foster parents for refugee children upon their request. They
also offer employment exchange and occupational training to refugees who wish to
get a job. The total number of users of the centers since their opening is 10,596
as of the end of June 1999.
(iii) Living Conditions
37. A Summary of the 1992 Survey of the Settlement Conditions of Indochinese Refugees
(conducted by the Asia Welfare Education Foundation Refugee Project Headquarters),
indicates a relatively smooth settlement of refugees. Employment conditions for these
refugees have become somewhat more difficult, reflecting the recent sluggish Japanese
economy. Therefore, the centers proclaim every November as "the Indochinese
Refugee Employment Facilitation Month," and hold seminars for employers at many
locations. As a result, all 54 refugees who had completed an occupational training
course at the centers were employed in 1998. A large number of refugees work in metal
processing, electric/machinery/automobile construction, printing and bookbinding.
38. As described above, most of Indochinese refugees settled in Japan are considered
to be well adjusted to their work and the local communities, supported by the understanding
and aid of employers and the local communities. With an increasing number of settled
Indochinese refugees, however, there are cases of those faced with various problems
in their daily life due to differences of language and custom. Therefore, the Refugee
Project Headquarters places "counselors for refugees" in its Headquarters
and the International Rescue Center to cope with the complicated and specialized
details of consultation and offers thorough and continuous counseling for the refugees
themselves, their family members, and their employers.
The understanding and cooperation of local residents is indispensable for the smooth
settlement of the Indochinese refugees. The said Foundation annually holds a "Meeting
with the Settled Indochinese Refugees" in major cities to promote exchanges
with local residents and to deepen their mutual understanding.
1999 REPORT ENDS
2) THE UN'S RESPONSE (March 2001),
AND JAPAN'S RESPONSE (October 2001)
(interspliced for ease of reading)
UN March 2001 Report courtesy http://www.bayefsky.com/html/japan_t4_cerd.php
(Japanese original at http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/jinshu/saishu.html)
GOJ Oct 2001 Response courtesy http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/human/comment0110.html
(Japanese original at http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/jinshu/iken.html)
UN REPORT IS IN IN DARK BLUE.
JAPAN'S INTERSPLICED ANSWERS ARE IN LIGHT GREEN.
EMPHASES ADDED BY THE AUTHOR OF THIS WEBSITE ARE IN
CERD A/56/18 (2001)
159. The Committee considered the initial and second periodic reports of Japan, due
on 14 January 1997 and 1999, respectively, at its 1443rd and 1444th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1443
and 1444), on 8 and 9 March 2001. At its 1459th meeting (CERD/C/SR.1459), on 20 March
2001, it adopted the following concluding observations.
160. The opportunity to initiate a constructive dialogue with the State party is
particularly welcome. The Committee was encouraged by the attendance of a large delegation
representing a wide range of governmental departments and also by the involvement
of the NGO community, as acknowledged by the State party, in the preparation of its
161. The Committee welcomes the detailed and comprehensive report submitted by the
State party, prepared in accordance with its guidelines for the preparation of reports,
and the additional oral information provided by the delegation in response to the
wide range of questions asked by Committee members. It also welcomes the additional
written responses provided, following the examination of the report.
B. Positive aspects
162. The Committee welcomes the legislative and administrative efforts made by the
State party in order to promote the human rights and the economic, social and cultural
development of some ethnic and national minorities, in particular: (i) the 1997 Law
for the Promotion of Measures for Human Rights Protection; (ii) the 1997 Law for
the Promotion of the Ainu Culture and for the Dissemination and Advocacy for the
Traditions of the Ainu and the Ainu Culture; and (iii) the series of special measures
laws for Dowa projects with the aim of eliminating discrimination against Burakumin.
163. The Committee notes with interest the recent jurisprudence recognizing the Ainu
people as a minority people with the right to enjoy its unique culture.
164. The Committee welcomes efforts made to raise awareness about existing human
rights standards, particularly the publication of the full texts of fundamental human
rights treaties on the Web site of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, including the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
It also welcomes the similar dissemination of the State party's reports on the implementation
of treaties and the concluding observations of the respective United Nations monitoring
C. Concerns and recommendations
165. While taking note of the State party's point of view on the problems involved in determining the ethnic composition of the
population, the Committee finds that there is a lack of information on this point
in its report. It is recommended that the State
party provide in its next report full details on the composition of the population
as requested in the reporting guidelines of the Committee and, in particular, information
on economic and social indicators reflecting the situation of all minorities covered
by the scope of the Convention, including the Korean minority, Burakumin and Okinawa
communities. The population on Okinawa seeks to be recognized as a specific ethnic
group and claims that the existing situation on the island leads to acts of discrimination
166. With regard to the interpretation of the
definition of racial discrimination contained in article
1 of the Convention, the Committee, contrary to
the State party, considers that the term "descent" has its own meaning
and is not to be confused with race or ethnic or national origin. The Committee therefore recommends that the State party ensure
the protection against discrimination and the full enjoyment of the civil, political,
economic, social and cultural rights contained in article
5 of the Convention of all groups, including the
Comments of the Japanese Government on the Concluding Observations adopted by the
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 20, 2000 [sic],
regarding initial and second periodic report of the Japanese Government
1. With regard to the ethnic composition ratio of the population in paragraph 7,
regarding the recommendation of providing information on economic and social indicators
of all minorities covered by the scope of the Convention, including the Korean minority,
Burakumin and Okinawa communities;
(1) First of all, in relation to economic and social indicators of the Ainu, we will
also make a report next time as we did in the initial and second periodic reports.
Furthermore, we will consider what information can be offered on economic and social
indicators of Koreans residing in Japan.
(2) On the other hand, we consider the scope of application of the Convention as
a. In the first place, Article 1(1) of the Convention provides "racial discrimination"
subject to the Convention as "all distinctions based on race, color, descent,
or national or ethnic origin...". Therefore, the Convention is considered to
cover discrimination against groups of people who are generally considered to share
biological characteristics, groups of people who are generally considered to share
cultural characteristics and individuals belonging to these groups based on the reason
of having these characteristics. Those who live
in Okinawa prefecture or natives of Okinawa are of the Japanese race, and generally,
in the same way as natives of other prefectures, they are not considered to be a
group of people who share biological or cultural characteristics under social convention,
and therefore, we do not consider them to be covered by the Convention.
b. Furthermore, concerning "descent" provided in Article 1(1) of this Convention,
in the process of deliberation on the Convention, there
was the problem that the words "national origin" may lead to the misunderstanding
that the words include the concept of "nationality" which is a concept
based on legal status. In order to solve the
problem, "descent" was proposed together with "place of origin"
as a replacement for "national origin". However, we know that the wording
was not sufficiently arranged after that, and "descent" remained in this
Based on such deliberation process, in application of the Convention, "descent" indicates a concept focusing on the race or
skin color of a past generation, or the national or ethnic origins of a past generation,
and it is not understood as indicating a concept focusing on social origin.
At the same time, with regard to the Dowa issue
(discrimination against the Burakumin), the Japanese government believes that "Dowa
people are not a different race or a different ethnic group,
and they belong to the Japanese race and are Japanese nationals without question."
- [NB: In other words, the GOJ asserts that ethnic
minorities like Okinawans, Burakumin, or Ainu are not covered by this treaty--as
they are citizens, not racially different. Nor are foreigners who are racially
different, as they are non-citizens, and thus naturally not accorded the same rights
as citizens. So effectively the GOJ confines its view of racial discrimination as
applicable to the ethnic Koreans and Chinese. Does this mean that the Koreans and
Chinese are racially different from Japanese? Narrowing the field to this degree
raises questions about the GOJ's sincerity towards following the
guidelines of "race" as defined in the CERD.)
(3) The Population Census in Japan is a statistical survey
conducted by obliging all people living in Japan to answer, therefore it is carried
out by limiting the number of census topics to the minimum for performance of national
basic policies in consideration of the burden of those filling it out.
2. With regard to "the population in Okinawa seeks to be recognized as a specific
ethnic group and claims that the existing situation on the island leads to acts of
discrimination against it" in paragraph 7;
- We know that some people claim that the population in
Okinawa is a different race from the Japanese race; however, we do not believe that
this claim represents the will of the majority of the people in Okinawa. Also, as
described in 1(2)(a), those who live in Okinawa prefecture or natives of Okinawa
are of the Japanese race, and they are not generally considered to be a group of
people who share different biological or cultural characteristics from the Japanese
- It is not necessarily clear what "the existing
situation on the island leads to acts of discrimination against the population on
Okinawa," which the Committee pointed out, specifically means. However, concerning U.S. military facilities and their areas
in Okinawa, in order to relieve the burden on residents of Okinawa due to the concentration
of 75% of all U.S. military facilities and areas in Japan, the Japanese government
has been working on steady implementation of the final report by SACO (Special Action
Committee on Okinawa), which aims at arrangement, integration and reduction of the
U.S. military facilities and areas with full force in cooperation with the U.S. government.
- (Also, for prevention of incidents and accidents by
U.S. personnel, the Japanese government has been requesting enforcement of official
discipline and prevention of reoccurrence to the U.S. side on repeated occasions,
including at the ministerial level. The government will work on the U.S. side to
make efforts to prevent incidents and accidents from occurring in the future. In
relation to this, the cooperative system has been implemented since fall of 2000.
Under the system, a working team composed of related parties such as the U.S. military,
the Japanese government, local authorities, the local police force and the chamber
of commerce and industry studies and decides concrete measures which can be taken
especially for prevention of recurrence of incidents and accidents involving drinking.
3. (1) With regard to the meaning of "descent"
in Article 1(1) of the Convention mentioned in paragraph 8, the Japanese government's
understanding is as described in the above 1(2)(b), and therefore, the government does not share the interpretation of "descent"
with the Committee.
(2) At any rate, on the basis of the spirit declared in the preamble of the Convention,
we take it for granted that no discrimination should be conducted including discrimination
such as the Dowa issue (discrimination against the Burakumin). For those related
to the Burakumin, the Constitution of Japan stipulates
not only guarantee of being equal as Japanese nationals under the law but also guarantee
of equality of all rights as Japanese nationals. Therefore, there is no discrimination
at all for civil, political, economic and cultural rights under the legal system.
- (NB: Therefore, "the Japanese Constitution
guarantees equal rights, so rights must be equal. After all, anyone regardless of
race or origin can sue under the Japanese judiciary." This logic will be echoed
in GOJ arguments below. But as the Otaru
Onsens Case demonstrates, a slmple reliance on the
judiciary is not adequate for protection or for redress, as no laws means nothing
enforcible by the Administrative Branch.)
(3) With the aim of resolving the problem of discrimination
against the Burakumin through improvement of the low economic level, living environment,
etc., of Burakumin communities, the government enacted three special measures laws,
which are the Law on Special Measures for Dowa Projects, the Law on Special Measures
for Regional Improvement and the Law Concerning Special Government Financial Measures
for Regional Improvement Special Projects, and has been actively promoting various
measures for more than 30 years.
We believe that as a result of long-standing activities to resolve the problem of
discrimination against the Burakumin by both the government and local public entities,
gaps in various aspects have been largely reduced, including completion of establishment
of a physical foundation such as improvement of the living environment in Burakumin.
We also believe that education and enlightenment for relieving the sense of discrimination
have been promoted based on various plans, and the sense of discrimination among
the people has certainly been lessened.
THE UN CONTINUES:
167. The Committee notes with concern that although article 98 of the Constitution
provides that treaties ratified by the State party are part of domestic law, the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Racial Discrimination have rarely been referred to by national courts. In light of the information from the State party that the direct
application of treaty provisions is judged in each specific case, taking into consideration
the purpose, meaning and wording of the provisions concerned, the Committee seeks
clarifying information from the State party on the status of the Convention and its
provisions in domestic law.
168. The Committee is concerned that the only provision in the legislation of the
State party relevant to the Convention is article 14 of the Constitution. Taking into account the fact that the Convention is not self-executing,
the Committee believes it necessary to adopt specific legislation to outlaw racial
discrimination, in particular in conformity with
the provisions of articles 4 and 5 of the Convention.
4. Paragraph 9 of the concluding observations
(1) The government is not in position to make
comments on the ideal way of application of provision of the Convention related to
individual cases at the courts. When generalizing,
it is not concluded that the courts are reluctant to apply the Convention immediately
because there are few cases referring to provision of the Convention in opinions
in consideration of the following: 1) There is a constraint that applying law by
the court premises a fact authorized by the court based on facts claimed or evidence
submitted by the parties concerned: 2) Since the purport of the Convention has already
been reflected in the provision of domestic law, there are considerable cases in
which the conclusion would be the same even if the provision of the Convention itself
is not applied.
- (NB: English translation: Few decisions
handed down by the national courts refer to the CERD because 1) there are few cases
brought before the courts requiring a reference, 2) there is not enough evidence
brought before them to back up claims of racial discrimination, 3) the essence of
the CERD is already enshrined in domestic law, so the outcome of these cases would
be the same even if the Convention would have been referred to. Unclear what
"domestic laws provide the purport of the CERD", as there are no anti-racial-discrimination
laws in Japan.)
(2) With regard to status of both the Convention and
provisions thereof in domestic law, Article 98, Paragraph 2 of the Constitution of
Japan provides that "The treaties concluded by Japan and established laws of
nations shall be faithfully observed." Therefore, treaties,
etc. which Japan concluded and published have effect as domestic law. There is no express provision concerning relation between treaties
concluded by Japan and laws in the Constitution of Japan, however treaties are considered
to be superior to laws.
However, since the substantive provision of the Convention (Article 2 to 7) provides
"the States Parties undertake...," the
Convention shall be considered not originally to establish individual rights and
obligations but to place an obligation of elimination of racial discrimination on
the States Parties. Japan has been fulfilling
the obligations which the Convention places on the States Parties as reported in
the initial and second periodic report of the Japanese Government.
- (NB: Therefore, treaties have the same force
of domestic law. But due to the wording of the CERD, the CERD is not to be interpreted
as a law, rather a series of goals for Japan to undertake. Japan claims it has been
doing so, in its own way, in its reports.)
THE UN CONTINUES:
169. The Committee notes the reservation maintained by the State party with respect
to article 4
(a) and (b) of the Convention, stating that "Japan fulfils the obligations under
those provisions to the extent that fulfilment … is compatible with the guarantee
of the rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression and other rights
under the Constitution of Japan". The Committee expresses concern that such
an interpretation is in conflict with the State party's obligations under article
4 of the Convention. The Committee draws the attention of the State party to its
general recommendations VII and XV, according to which article 4 is of mandatory
nature, given the non-self-executing character
of all its provisions, and the prohibition of the dissemination of all ideas based
upon racial superiority or hatred is compatible with the rights to freedom of opinion
5. Paragraph 10 of the concluding
(1) Article 4
(a) and (b) put the States Parties under an obligation of penalization, however,
as mentioned in 6 below, Japan puts reservation stating that the country fulfils
obligations of Article 4 as long as it does not conflict with the Constitution. Since
Article 4(c) does not provide any concrete measures which the States Parties should
take, it is understood to be left to the rational discretion of each States Party.
Also, the preamble of Article 5 states, "In compliance with the fundamental
obligations laid down in Article 2 of this Convention...", therefore, it is
understood as not exceeding the scope of obligations provided in Article 2. However, on the other hand, as it is obvious from the provision
"by all appropriate means" in Article 2 (1), legislative measures are required
by circumstances and are requested to be taken when the States Parties consider legislation
do not recognize that the present situation of Japan is one in which discriminative
acts cannot be effectively restrained by the existing legal system and in which explicit
racial discriminative acts, which cannot be restrained by measures other than legislation,
are conducted. Therefore, penalization of these acts is not considered necessary.
- (NB: In other words, "It is up to us at
the GOJ to determine whether legislation is appropriate. We do not consider it appropriate.
We have a judicial system. You have a problem? Take it to the judge. Therefore Japan
does not need an anti-racial-discrimination law." Especially, as per the next
paragraph, existing anti-defamation laws can allegedly do the job.)
(2) Furthermore, with regard to dissemination and expression
of ideas of racial discrimination, if the idea includes content which damages the
honor or credit of a certain individual or group, it is possible to penalize them
under the crime of defamation, insult or damage of credit/obstruction of business
under the Penal Code. In addition, it is possible to penalize them under the crime
of intimidation under the Penal Code if the ideas contain intimidatory content aimed
at a certain individual. Also, violent actions with a motivation or background of
a racially discriminatory idea can be penalized under the crime of inflicting injury,
crime of violence, etc. under the Penal Code.
(3) Also, with regard to discrimination by private individuals, when an illegal act
is committed, liability for damage arises for those who have conducted such act (Article
709 of the Civil Code, etc.). Also, in case of a juristic act of violation of public
policy or good morals, the act shall be invalidated based on Article 90 of the Civil
(4) The Council for Human Rights Promotion established in the Ministry of Justice
has been intensively examining and deliberating "basic matters regarding the
improvement of relief measures for the victims in cases of human rights infringement"
since September 1999, and submitted a report on the ideal framework of the human
rights remedy system in May 2001.
The report proposes that the new human rights remedy system the central core of which
is the Human Rights Committee (tentative name), independent of the government, should
be created and that the said committee should provide active relief measures with
more effective investigatory procedure and remedial methods for the victims of certain
human rights infringements. It also says that it is necessary to define the scope
of human rights infringement against which active relief measures should be taken
on the basis of the purport of the International Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Racial Discrimination, including discriminatory treatment based on race,
color, or national or ethnic origin, etc. in social life and harassment relating
to race, etc. The government, having the utmost
regard for the recommendations of the Council, will make every endeavor to establish
the proposed new human rights relief mechanism.
- (NB: When? It became entangled with a bill which
would also protect the rights of people against reportage by the mass media, particularly
celebrities, politicians and other public officials, safeguarding them from closer
public scrutiny. After a massive campaign against it by prominent media figures in
2002, the bill was defeated.)
THE UN CONTINUES:
170. Regarding the prohibition of racial discrimination in general, the Committee is further concerned that racial discrimination
as such is not explicitly and adequately penalized in criminal law. The Committee recommends the State party to consider giving full
effect to the provisions of the Convention in its domestic legal order and to ensure
the penalization of racial discrimination as well as the access to effective protection
and remedies through the competent national tribunals and other State institutions
against any acts of racial discrimination.
6. Expression of concern by the Committee about
reservation of Article 4
(a) and (b) in paragraph 11
We are sufficiently aware of General Recommendations VII and XV of the Committee
on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. However,
the concept provided by Article 4 may include extremely wide-ranging acts both in
various scenes and of various modes. Therefore, to regulate all of them by penal
statute exceeding the existing legislation is liable to conflict with guarantees
provided by the Constitution of Japan such as freedom of expression, which severely requires both necessity and rationality of the
constraint, and the principle of the legality of crimes and punishment, which requests
both concreteness and definiteness of the scope of punishment. For this reason, Japan
decided to put reservation on Article 4 (a) and (b).
- (NB: By "reservation", the GOJ means
that they signed the CERD with "reservations" about certain sections, and
as such obtained the UN's understanding that Japan would not follow the treaty in
this regard. In cases argued above and in the next paragraph, discriminatory speech
of a racial nature will not be outlawed because it was seen in 1995 as infringing
on freedom of speech. If it winds up being intentionally hurtful or defamatory, then
other laws, unrelated to racial discrimination, would take effect, runs the logic.
In any case, the GOJ is arguing its way out of passing a specific anti-racial-discrimination
law, required by the sections of the treaty which Japan agreed to, and without "reservation".)
Also, the government
does not think that Japan is currently in a situation where dissemination of racial
discriminatory ideas or incitement of racial discrimination are conducted to the
extent that the government must consider taking legislative measures for punishment
against dissemination of racial discriminatory idea, etc. at the risk of unjustly
atrophying lawful speech by withdrawing the above reservation.
THE UN CONTINUES:
171. The Committee notes with concern statements
of discriminatory character made by high-level public officials and, in particular,
the lack of administrative or legal action taken by the authorities as a consequence in violation of article 4 (c) of the Convention and the interpretation that such acts can be punishable only if there is an intention to incite
and promote racial discrimination. The State
party is urged to take appropriate measures to prevent such incidents in the future
and to provide appropriate training of, in particular, public officials, law enforcement
officers and administrators with a view to combating prejudices which lead to racial
discrimination, in compliance with article 7 of the Convention.
- (NB: This is probably in reference to, inter
alia, comments which Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintarou made about Chinese "ethnic
DNA" and their alleged propensity towards crime, and his call for the Self Defense
Forces to round up all "illegal foreigners" on sight during a natural disaster.
7. Recommendation of paragraph 12, ensuring both penalization of racial discrimination
and effective protection from and remedies for racially discriminatory acts
As described in the above 6, Japan puts reservation of implementing obligations of
Article 4 (a)
and (b) as long as not conflicting with the above guarantee at the conclusion of
the Convention in consideration of the importance of freedom of expression, etc.
guaranteed under the Constitution. However, legislative obligation for punishment
within the scope is sufficiently secured, as described in the above 5, by existing
penal statute such as defamation, and claim for damages is also possible through
Civil procedure, therefore there are sufficient domestic laws to secure fulfillment
of the obligations under the Convention with the above reservation.
In addition, the Human Rights Organs of the Ministry of Justice actively conduct
promotional activities concerning all forms of discrimination including racial discrimination
with the aim of disseminating and enhancing respect for human rights. Human rights counseling rooms are set up to accept inquiries from
those who have suffered discrimination. In addition, when specifically recognizing
incidents of alleged infringement of fundamental human rights, the Organs promptly
investigate the incidents as human rights infringements cases, find out the fact
of the infringement, and based on the results, take proper measures for the case.
- (NB: The abovementioned Human Rights
Organs (the Legal Affairs Bureau) are understaffed, underbudgeted, and cannot take
"proper measures" which might include punishment of discriminators. By
law, these organs can by law only "request", not enforcably demand, that
a discriminator desist (in the form of "enlightenment" (keihatsu)), with
no sanctions whatsoever for those who do not desist. Sometimes the LAB does not even
follow up requests for help, or comply with requests for reports from claimants on
"proper measures" taken. See http://www.debito.org/policeapology.html, The UN's CCPR
Committee has also called the LAB ineffectual, calling for an independent ombudsman
system as far back as 1998, to no avail.
The Council for Human Rights Promotion established in
the Ministry of Justice considered remedy measures for racial discrimination based
on the purport of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination. It submitted a report on the ideal framework of the human
rights remedy system in May 2001. The report proposes that a new human rights remedy
system the central core of which is the Human Rights Committee (tentative name),
independent of the government, should be created , and that the said committee should
provide active relief measures with more effective investigatory procedure and remedial
measures for the victims of certain human rights infringements including discriminatory
treatment based on race, color, or national or ethnic origin, etc. in social life.
having the utmost regard for the recommendations of the Council, will make every endeavor to establish the proposed new human rights
relief mechanism so that it can provide effective remedies for victims of discriminatory
treatments based on race etc.
- (NB: Again, when? As noted above, the council's
proposals have been put on hold as of 2002, with no clear plans for change. They
also state that even if passed in its present form, foreigners may not act as officers
of the remedy system. Allowing their participation is still in the deliberation (kentou)
8. With regard to "the Committee notes with concern
discriminatory statements made by high-level public officials and, in particular,
the lack of administrative or legal action taken by the authorities as a consequence
in violation of Article 4
(c) of the Convention and the interpretation that such acts can be punishable only
if there is an intention to promote and incite racial discrimination" in paragraph
- The main paragraph of Article 4 limits subjects to be
condemned by the States Parties to all propaganda,
etc. which is based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race, etc., or which
attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination.
As it is clear from the limitation, the article places an obligation of taking certain
measures against acts with the intention of promoting
racial discrimination on the States Parties. Therefore, it is considered that acts without such intention
are not the subject of the article.
- Japan is not the only country which makes such interpretation.
For example, Article 18, Paragraph 5 of the Public Order Act of 1986 in the UK provides
that "a persons who is not shown to have intended to stir up racial hatred is
not guilty of an offence under this section if he did not intend his words, or behavior,
or the written material, to be, and was not aware that might be. threatening, abusive
- Furthermore, the Joint Statement on "Racism and
the Media" (a joint statement by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion
and Expression, the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) Representative
on Freedom of the Media and the OAS (Organization of American States) Special Rapporteur
on Freedom of Expression) defines laws for discriminatory statements as follows:
"No one should be penalized for the dissemination of hate speech unless it has
been shown that they did so with the intention of inciting discrimination, hostility
- (NB: Therefore, hate speech is based upon intention
of the speaker, not the feelings of those the speech is directed towards. Intent,
as opposed to damage, is much more difficult to prove in a court of law. And since
other countries, such as England, share this interpretation, Japan is exonerated.
Unfortunately, Japan doesn't share England's establishment of laws against racial
9. With regard to "the Committee
urges the States Parties to provide appropriate training to public officials, law
enforcement officers and administrators" in paragraph 13;
The government has been conventionally taking subjects related to human rights in
the curricula of various training programs for national public officials and thoroughly
educating them on various conventions related to human rights and the idea of the
Constitution of Japan which declares respect for human rights.
For police officers, the government has been providing classes related to human rights
protection including respect for human rights and various human rights-related conventions
at training provided for newly-employed police officers and promoted police officers
at police academies. These classes are included in classes on the Constitution, a
fundamental law for human rights, on ethics of duties and on social studies
Also, since police practices are duties deeply related to human rights, education
is conducted based on the purport of the various human rights-related conventions
and the Constitution on every occasion such as training at the working place, aiming
at execution of duties in consideration of human rights.
Judges acquire qualification for the legal profession after receiving a course for
legal apprentices at the Legal Research and Training Institute as well as public
prosecutors and attorneys. In lectures during the course for legal apprentices, the
International Covenants on Human Rights and various problems related to human rights
are covered. Furthermore, after appointment to a judge, curriculums related to human
rights problems such as the International Covenants on Human Rights are set up at
various workshops at the Legal Research and Training Institute.
As such, Japan has been educating public officials,
law enforcement officers and administrators about human rights including elimination
of racial discrimination, and will continue to
make further efforts for enrichment of the said education in the future.
- (NB: The education does not seem to be effective.
Japan's police forces nationwide have put out discriminatory notices in public places
warning against "bad foreigners" lurking around banks and snatching bags
on streets, have written advisories to shopkeeps to contact police if foreigners
enter their stores in groups or speak Chinese in public (see http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police), have stopped foreigners for questioning on the mere pretence
that they look foreign, not for the suspicion of any specific crime (see http://www.debito.org/policeapology.html), and overreacted during Japan's hosting of the World Cup 2002,
spreading widespread public fear about all foreigners as potential "hooligans"
THE UN CONTINUES:
172. The Committee is concerned about reports
of violent actions against Koreans, mainly children and students, and about the inadequate
reaction of the authorities in this regard and
recommends that the Government take more resolute measures to prevent and counter
10. In relation to "the Committee is concerned
about reports on violent actions against Koreans, mainly children, students and about
inadequate reaction of the authorities in this regard and recommends the Government
to take more resolute measures to prevent and counter such acts," in paragraph
(1) In Japan, such violent actions are criminalized based on the punishable violations
of the law stipulated in the penal code, such as murder, infliction of bodily injury,
and acts of violence. The Japanese government is exerting efforts to make impartial
dispositions regarding violent actions motivated by racial discrimination based on
law and evidence.
(2) The police have already taken measures to prevent further occurrence of such
violent actions by keeping stricter watch at places where such actions are likely
to take place and during the times in which students go to and leave school, as well
as by collaborating with related organizations and cooperating with schools.
In addition, Article 189 (2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that police
officers shall, when they consider that there exists an offense, investigate the
offender and evidence. Accordingly, active investigations have been made to resolve
cases irrespective of whether the injured party was Japanese or non-Japanese by observing
the equality under the law stipulated in Article 14 (1) of the Constitution of Japan.
Therefore, "inadequate reaction" pointed
out in the Concluding Observations is not true.
- (NB: Although the author, who is not an ethnic
Korean and does not presume to speak on their behalf, has no specific information
sites to rebut this assertion, even a layperson could call this logic into question.
It is highly unscientific. It is all too easy for a government to say, "We are
redoubling our efforts, active investigations have been made," etc. A more responsible
government would have offered more tangible proof that these activities are happening
(number of arrests, increases or decreases in the number of hate crime incidents,
etc), especially in the face of reports evidencing otherwise.
Simply saying something is happening it does
not make it so, particularly when so many other assertions made above by the GOJ
do not bear up under further scrutiny.)
(3) Furthermore, the human rights organs of the Ministry
of Justice promptly gathered information on these incidents of violence, and aggressively
conducted awareness raising activities in order to prevent such violent actions by
calling public attention to the prevention of discrimination on the streets, distributing
information booklets and putting up posters in school-commuting roads and public
transport that are used by many Korean children and students residing in Japan. The
government will continue conducting positive investigations and implementing measures
appropriate for each case regarding the cases that are suspected of infringing human
rights, and making efforts to raise awareness of respect for human rights among those
THE UN CONTINUES:
173. With regard to children of foreign nationality residing in Japan, the Committee
notes that elementary and lower secondary education is not compulsory. It further
notes the position of the State party that "since the purpose of the primary
education in Japan is to educate the Japanese people to be members of the community,
it is not appropriate to force foreign children to receive that education".
The Committee concurs with the proposition that force is completely inappropriate
to secure the objective of integration. However, with reference to articles 3 and 5 (e) (v),
the Committee is concerned that different standards
of treatment in this respect may lead to racial segregation and the unequal enjoyment
of the right to education, training and employment.
It is recommended that the State party ensure that the relevant rights contained
in article 5 (e)
are guaranteed without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin.
11. In relation to paragraph 15;
(1) In cases where children of foreign nationality
residing in Japan did not choose to receive Japanese education, it is undeniable
that they might find some kind of difference in subsequent education, training and employment compared with those that received Japanese
(2) It goes without saying that such difference must not lead to an infringement
on the economic, social and cultural rights contained in article
5 of the Convention. Under the Japanese system,
these rights are guaranteed without distinction as to race, color, or national or
- (NB: So what is the proposal the GOJ will offer
to remedy this problem--the right to an education, which it says above is not only
guaranteed under the Constitution, but also a priority for the maintenance of minority
THE UN CONTINUES:
174. The Committee is concerned about discrimination affecting the Korean minority.
Though efforts are being made to remove some of the institutional obstacles to minority
students from international schools, including Korean schools, entering Japanese
universities, the Committee is particularly concerned that studies
in Korean are not recognized and that resident Korean students receive unequal treatment
with regard to access to higher education. It
is recommended that the State party undertake appropriate measures to eliminate discriminatory
treatment of minorities, including Koreans, in this regard and to ensure access to
education in minority languages in public Japanese schools.
12. In relation to "the Committee is particularly concerned
that studies in Korean are not recognized and resident Korean students receive unequal
treatment with regard to access to higher education," in paragraph 16;
(1) In Japan, regulations were amended in September 1999 to enable graduates from
foreign schools including Korean schools in Japan to acquire the qualification for
entering a college or university by taking the University Entrance Qualification
Examination. In addition, since 1979, the qualification for entering a college or
university has also been recognized for international school graduates who have acquired
the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma provided by the International Baccalaureate
Organization, a nonprofit educational organization in Switzerland.
(2) As mentioned in (1) above, the Japanese Government
recognize the qualification for entering a college or university to graduates from
foreign schools that do not meet the standards of public education on condition that
they satisfy certain academic requirements, and our understanding is that such a
practice is common throughout the world. Therefore, the insistence on "unequal
treatment" in the Concluding Observations is inadequate.
(3) In fact, even schools in which most of students are Korean can be authorized
as regular schools if they meet the public education standards. As a matter of fact,
the qualification for entering a college or university is recognized for graduates
from such authorized schools. Each school can decide whether or not they apply for
- (NB: This is a famous rhetorical device used
by the GOJ to absolve themselves of responsibility. Leave it up to each school to
decide their admissions standards, and then they cannot tell them what to do--as
if the Ministry of Education (Monbukagakusho) has no influence over these decisions.
This logic was utilized constantly when under pressure to employ more foreign full-time
educators under permanent, uncontracted positions (see http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkisei). The fact is that most Japanese universities do not recognize
high-school degrees from Korean schools, and the Japanese government is not taking
a more active stance to change that situation.)
The Japanese government has conducted a survey on other countries' situations concerning
the status of foreign schools and treatment of the qualification for entering a college
or university, targeting 23 countries/regions including Australia, Canada, China,
France, Germany, India,Italy, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand,
the United Kingdom, the United States(Released in July 1999). According
to the results, there are a small number of countries that leave the eligibility
of foreign school graduates to enter a higher educational institution to the discretion
of the respective colleges and universities. However, most countries/regions do not
institutionally recognize the qualification to enter a college or university in that
country merely by the graduation from a foreign school.
In most cases, the students are required to have a certain qualification such as
the IB Diploma or to make a certain score on the nationwide standardized test of
that country in addition to the graduation from a foreign school in order to acquire
the qualification for entering a college or university. (See Annex 1)
- (NB: This comparison with overseas universities
not recognizing overseas graduates is disingenuous. This argument presumes Korean
schools are "foreign schools", even though these schools are domestic,
the students are almost always born and raised in Japan, and there is instruction
in Japanese. The solution would be to allow the students to sit and pass said university's
entrance exams like anyone else, not turn them away a priori. This argument does
not address that. Therein lies the discrimination.)
13. In relation to "the State party is recommended
to....... ensure access to education in minority languages in public Japanese schools,"
in paragraph 16;
(1) It is not clear what kind of education is specifically intended by "education
in minority languages" mentioned in the Committee's recommendation. While we believe there exist linguistic minorities in the respective
State parties of the Convention, the Japanese government is not aware that many of
these countries provide public education using only a minority language. Therefore,
it is considered inadequate to state that Japanese public education is discriminatory
merely for the reason that the government does not provide the entire public education
only in a minority language.
- (NB: Again disingenuous. The question is not
"only". The question is the possibility of some access to ethnic
(2) Secondly, with respect to guaranteeing the right
to education stipulated in the Convention without distinction as to race, color,
or national or ethnic origin, the Japanese government
provides the children who use minority languages with the opportunity to enter public
elementary and lower secondary schools to receive the same education as Japanese
children, if so desired. Also, in such cases,
best efforts are made so that the children who use minority languages can receive
Japanese education smoothly by offering Japanese language lessons, support by teachers
and even support by staff members who can speak their native language (minority language).
For instance, staff members who speak Korean language and the teachers collaborate
to provide Japanese language lessons and other supports to Korean children and students
who do not have sufficient Japanese language skills in order to help them receive
Japanese education smoothly.
- (NB: This is missing the point of the CERD. It
is not only to give equal access to everyone to the same education, but also provide
the opportunity for special education to those with ethnic educational needs. The
latter is being ignored.)
(3) The Japanese government recognizes that the right
to education stipulated in the Convention are already guaranteed in Japan through
the efforts described above.
THE UN CONTINUES:
175. The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to further promote
the rights of the Ainu, as indigenous people. In this regard the Committee draws
the attention of the State party to its general recommendation XXIII on the rights
of indigenous peoples that calls, inter alia, for the recognition and protection
of land rights as well as restitution and compensation for loss. The State party
is also encouraged to ratify and or use as guidance ILO Convention (No. 169) concerning
Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries.
14. In relation to "the Committee recommends the State party to take steps to
further promote the rights of the Ainu, as indigenous people," in paragraph
- As is incorporated in the Basic Policies on Measures
for the Protection of the Ainu Culture and for the Dissemination and Advocacy for
the Traditions of the Ainu and the Ainu Culture (Prime Minister's Office Announcement
No. 25 of September 18, 1997), in Japan, the Ainu, who lived in Hokkaido before the
arrival of Wajin at least at the end of medieval times, have been recognized as a
race that has original traditions and that developed a unique culture including the
Ainu language, which is based on a different linguistic system from the Japanese
language, as well as original manners and customs.
- However, since there
is no fixed international definition of the term "indigenous people," the
question of whether the people of Ainu are actually "indigenous people"
in the sense mentioned above needs to be examined carefully.
- At any rate, in order to smoothly promote the Utari
welfare measures, which are implemented by the government of Hokkaido Prefecture
for improving the social and economic status of the Ainu people, the Japanese government
established the Joint Meeting of the Ministers concerned in the Hokkaido Utari Measures
in May 1974 and has been striving to enhance the various measures while keeping close
contact among the related ministries. In addition, the Japanese government is engaged
in various schemes relating to the Ainu people, such as advancement of measures for
promoting Ainu culture as well as disseminating knowledge and raising awareness of
the Ainu tradition among the public, based on the Law for the Promotion of the Ainu
Culture and for the Dissemination and Advocacy for the Traditions of the Ainu and
the Ainu Culture (Law No. 52 of May 14, 1997) that was established for building a
society in which the racial pride of the Ainu people is respected and having the
Ainu culture and traditions contribute to development of diverse culture in Japan.
15. In relation to "the State party is also encouraged to ratify and or use
as guidance the ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples," in paragraph
Since the ILO Convention includes many provisions other than the protection of workers
which is mandated to the ILO and the Convention still includes provisions that conflict
with Japan's legislation, the Japanese government
abstained from the vote for adoption of the Convention at the International Labor
Conference. The Convention is considered to include too many difficulties for Japan
to ratify it immediately.
THE UN CONTINUES:
176. Noting that although Koreans applying for Japanese nationality are no longer
required, legally or administratively, to change their names to a Japanese name,
the Committee expresses its concern that authorities reportedly continue to urge
applicants to make such changes and that Koreans feel obliged to do so for fear of
discrimination. Considering that the name of an individual is a fundamental aspect
of the cultural and ethnic identity, the Committee recommends that the State party
take the necessary measures to prevent such practices.
16. In relation to "the Committee expresses its concern that authorities reportedly
continue to urge applicants to make such changes and that Koreans feel obliged to
do so for fear of discrimination," in paragraph 18;
- The Japanese government is aware that there is discrimination
against Koreans residing in Japan, but it has been making continuous efforts to create
a society free of discrimination through school education programs and various awareness
- In the meantime, there is no fact that the authorities
are urging Koreans applying for Japanese nationality to change their names to Japanese
names, but instead, the authorities are extensively informing applicants that they
can determine their names freely after naturalization.
THE UN CONTINUES:
177. The Committee, while noting the recent increase in the number of refugees accepted
by the State party, is concerned that different standards of treatment are applicable
to Indo-Chinese refugees, on the one hand, and the limited number of refugees of
other national origins on the other. Whereas Indo-Chinese
refugees have access to accommodation, financial aid and State-funded Japanese language
courses, such assistance is as a rule not available to other refugees. The Committee recommends that the State party take the necessary
measures to ensure equal entitlement to such services to all refugees. In this context,
it is also recommended that the State party ensure
that all asylum-seekers have the right, inter alia, to an adequate standard of living
and medical care.
178. The Committee is concerned that the national redress law offers remedies only
on the basis of reciprocity, which is inconsistent with article
6 of the Convention.
17. In relation to "the Committee is concerned that the national redress law
offers remedies only on the basis of reciprocity, which is inconsistent with article 6 of the Convention,"
in paragraph 20;
(1) Japan's national redress law adopts reciprocity (Article 6 of the National Redress
Law) based on the principle of sovereign equality of States in the international
community, which is an internationally recognized principle.
In addition, if Japan acknowledges state tort liability regarding an injured foreign
national when such liability is not at all acknowledged for Japanese nationals in
the home country of the foreign national, it would unfairly discriminate against
the Japanese people. Therefore, the current reciprocity can rather be considered
to be virtually securing equality of Japanese and foreign nationals.
(2) Accordingly, no problems are expected to arise in relation to the International
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination even if there
are cases where the national redress law is not applicable to a foreign national,
whose home country does not acknowledge state tort liability regarding Japanese nationals,
based on the reciprocity in Article 6 of the law, as this Convention does not apply
to distinctions based upon nationalities.
THE UN CONTINUES:
179. The Committee requests the State party to provide in subsequent reports, inter
alia, information on jurisprudence relating specifically to violations of the Convention,
including the awarding by courts of adequate reparation for such violations.
180. The Committee recommends that the next State party report contain socio-economic
data disaggregated by gender and national and ethnic group and information on measures
taken to prevent gender-related racial discrimination, including sexual exploitation
181. The State party is also invited to provide in its next report further information
on the work and powers of the Council for Human Rights Promotion and on the impact
of: (i) the 1997 Law for the Promotion of Measures for Human Rights Protection; (ii)
the 1997 Law for the Promotion of the Ainu Culture and for the Dissemination of and
Advocacy for their Traditions; (iii) the Law Concerning Special Government Financial
Measures for Regional Improvement Special Projects and envisaged strategies to eliminate
discrimination against Burakumin after the law ceases to apply, i.e. in 2002.
18. In relation to "the State party is also invited to provide in its next report
further information on the impact of (i) the 1997 Law for the Promotion of Measures
for Human Rights Protection and the work and powers of the Council for Human Rights
Promotion," in paragraph 23;
- The Law for the Promotion of Measures for Human Rights
Protection stipulates, for the purpose of contributing to protection of human rights,
the nation's obligations to develop educational and promotional measures to enhance
public mutual understanding on the concept of respecting human rights, and to improve
relief measures for the victims in cases of human right infringement. At the same
time, the Law stipulates establishment of the Council for Human Rights Promotion
in the Ministry of Justice designed for deliberating basic matters concerning these
- At the first meeting, the Council was asked to advise
on "basic matters concerning the comprehensive development of educational and
promotional measures to enhance public mutual understanding of the concept of respect
for human rights" (Item 1), by Minister of Justice, Minister of Education, Culture,
Sports, Science and Technology, and Minister of Pubic Management [sic], Home Affairs,
Posts and Telecommunications and on "basic matters regarding the improvement
of relief measures for the victims in cases of human right" (Item 2) by Minister
of Justice. The Council submitted a report on Item 1 in July 1999, and a report on
the ideal human rights redress system regarding Item 2 in May 2001. The Council will
further proceed to deliberating the ideal system of Human Rights Volunteers.
- The Japanese government intends to respect the Council's
recommendations to the fullest and to endeavor set up the proposed human rights remedy
system. Information on the implemented measures will be provided in Japan's next
19. In relation to "the State party is also invited to provide in its next report
further information on the impact of (iii) the Law Concerning Special Government
Measures for Regional Improvement Special Projects and envisaged strategies to eliminate
discrimination against Burakumin after the law ceases to apply, i.e. in 2002,"
in paragraph 23;
First of all, discrimination based on social
origin is not covered under this Convention.
In addition, the special measures limited to the Dowa district will be completed
at the end of March 2002, and if any needs for additional measures would arise in
and after April 2002, they will be dealt with by implementing required general measures
in the same manner as for other areas.
THE UN CONTINUES:
182. It is noted that the State party has not made the optional declaration provided
for in article 14
of the Convention, and the Committee recommends that the possibility of such a declaration
20. In relation to Paragraph 24,".... the Committee recommends that the possibility
of such a declaration be considered."
- The Japanese government considers that the system of
receiving communications from individuals or groups of individuals set forth in article 14 of the Convention
is noteworthy in that it aims to effectively secure implementation of the Convention.
However, concerns have been pointed out that
it may cause problems in relation to Japanese judicial system, including the possibility
that it may obstruct independence of judicial power,
and the government is currently conducting serious and careful examination on these
points. Thus, the Japanese government intends to be careful in determining whether
or not to make the declaration, by taking these points into consideration.
- As for the problems that may occur in relation to Japanese
judicial system, Japan adopts a three-instance trial system in order to conduct prudent
examination, and provides the retrial system for filing appeals even after Judgement
became final and binding. It also offers extraordinary relief procedures besides
the system for filing appeals against decisions in the ordinary court procedures.
Since Japanese judicial system is thus functioning
sufficiently at present, there is a slight concern for the possibility that the declaration
may confuse such domestic relief procedures.
- (NB: In other words, human rights groups should
not be allowed to bring their case to the UN even to contradict claims made by the
GOJ to the CERD Committee, because it might confuse the Japanese judicial process
or alleged relief processes. So commit to several years in Japanese court, undergo
three appeals, hope the Supreme Court will hear your third appeal, and then the GOJ
will allow the UN to see if there is anything to the claim. This will lengthen the
process for human-rights reform significantly.)
THE UN CONTINUES:
183. The Committee recommends that the State party ratify the amendments to article 8, paragraph 6, of
the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties
to the Convention.
21. In relation to "the Committee recommends that the State party ratify the
amendments to article 8,
paragraph 6, of the Convention," in paragraph 25;
The Japanese government considers that obligations under the Convention are only
binding upon the State parties in principle, so expenses relating to the Convention
should be borne solely by the State parties, and the expenses should not be covered
by the regular budget of the United Nations that is mainly financed by contributions
from States including non-parties. Accordingly, it does not plan to ratify the said
amendments at present.
THE UN CONCLUDES:
184. The Committee recommends that the State party's reports continue to be made
readily available to the public from the time they are submitted and that the Committee's
observations on them be similarly publicized.
185. The Committee recommends that the State party submit its third periodic report
jointly with its fourth periodic report, due on 14 January 2003, and that it address
all points raised in the present observations.
THE UN'S RESPONSE TO JAPAN'S FIRST AND SECOND PERIODICAL REPORT ON HUMAN
RIGHTS (March 2001), AND JAPAN'S RESPONSE (October 2001) END
3) EXCERPTED RESPONSES FROM DOMESTIC HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS
TO JAPAN'S 2001 RESPONSE (2001)
Note: The GOJ has not responded to any of these domestic
counter-reports. Moreover, even though signatories are obligated to report to the
CERD Committee every two years, Japan has still not submitted its third periodic
report, due 2002, to this day (June 2003).
NGO Report in Response to the First and Second Report Prepared by the Government
of JapanConcerning the International Conventionon the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination（Buraku Issue）
February 10, 2001
Buraku Liberation League
Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute
4. Article 4 (Prohibition of Discrimination and Incitement Based on Racism)
(1) With regard to the introduction, there has been an increase in the number
of discriminatory statements found in the forms of graffiti, reader's contributions
and messages posted on the Internet. Examples of these statements include "Kill
Buraku People", "Exterminate Buraku People" and so on. The Government
has not yet taken any decisive action against such practises.
(3) With regard to Paragraph (b), propaganda of or incitement to discrimination against
Buraku people in the forms of graffiti and Internet communications are often made
under names of organizations. Since this violates human rights, the Government should
immediately withdraw their reservations and enact a national law.
5. Article 5 (Equality Before the Law and the Enjoyment of Rights Without Discrimination)
Paragraph (a): The Sayama Case is a case where a murder occurred in Sayama City,
Saitama Prefecture, in 1963. Judicial proceedings were initiated on a biased presupposition
that Buraku people are likely to commit such crimes. (Data 6)
Paragraph (e): In November 1975, the "Buraku Lists" scandal was discovered
(Data 10-1, 10-2). In June 1998, the "Discriminatory Personal Investigation"
conducted by the Nihon IB and the Rick private investigative agencies was disclosed
(Data 11). In both cases there was an intention to prevent Buraku people from being
employed by private companies. In Japan, there are no laws or regulations that prohibit
discriminatory screening of Buraku people with regard to employment in the private
sector so there is an urgent need to introduce such a law. For reference, Japan has
not yet ratified ILO Convention No. 111 that prohibits discrimination in employment
6. Article 6 (Remedies for Victims of Racial Discrimination)
* The Sayama Case demonstrates the reality of remedial measures made through court
proceedings in Japan. The defence lawyers lodged a protest after the second request
for a retrial was dismissed. The lawyers have faced problems such as the non-disclosure
of evidence and the lack of investigation of facts that should have been investigated
by the prosecutor. Since the UN Human Rights Committee recommended that the Japanese
Government should ensure that its laws and legal practises enable the defence to
have access to all relevant material, all evidence should be immediately disclosed
to the defence lawyers. (Data 15)
* As an alternative means of dispute resolution, the Human Rights Protection Service
is available at the Civil Liberties Bureau in the Ministry of Justice. However, it
has not proven to be very effective. It is urged that a sufficiently effective human
rights commission based on the Paris Principles be established.
Read more about these cases and the full report at: http://blhrri.org/blhrri_e/other/002_e.htm
4) ADDITIONAL LINK: CCPR Committee Report
(International covenant on civil and political rights, CCPR/C/79/Add.102 19 November
1998): UN scolds Japan: "human rights standards
are not determined by popularity polls".