Japan Times: UN Rep Bustamante meets Calderon Noriko, comments on GOJ harsh visa system that separates families

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Hi Blog . The Japan Times reported UN Special Rapporteur Bustamante’s interim comments during his current-two-week fact-finding mission to Japan, particularly as pertains to the GOJ visa system that deports people even if it means splitting apart families (cf. the Calderon Noriko Case).

Dr Bustamante takes a very dim view of this below. He will also be giving a press conference this Wednesday, March 31. I hope the information we at FRANCA provided him last week will also be factored into his statements and advice. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

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The Japan Times, Sunday, March 28, 2010
Deportation rule troubles U.N. official (excerpt)
By MASAMI ITO, Staff writer
, Courtesy of John in Yokohama
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100328a2.html

A recent government decision to deport only the parents of families without residency status, thus separating children from their mothers and fathers, flies in the face of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Jorge Bustamante, the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said Saturday in Tokyo.

Fact-finding: Jorge Bustamante, the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, greets Noriko Calderon, the daughter of a deported Filipino couple, in Tokyo Saturday. Lawyer Shogo Watanabe, who represents her family, also attended the meeting. KYODO PHOTO

Bustamante, who is on his first official fact-finding mission to Japan, is meeting with government officials, nongovernmental organizations, legal experts and foreign residents, and is expected to submit a report on Japan to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

On Saturday, he met with residents caught in the deportation dilemma — among them Noriko Calderon, a 14-year-old girl who was born in Japan to an undocumented Filipino couple. Calderon’s case drew media attention when her parents were deported last spring.

“It is very difficult to live separated from my parents, and I miss them very much,” Calderon said. “But I hope that one day, all three of us can live in Japan together and I plan to do my best” to realize that goal.

Bustamante expressed concern over the separation of families and said he would cite the situation in his report.

“It’s going to be made public,” Bustamante told the gathering. “And this, of course, might result in an embarrassment for the government of Japan and therefore certain pressure (will be) put on the government of Japan.”

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100328a2.html

ENDS

Assn of Korean Human Rights RYOM Munsong’s speech text to UN Rep Bustamante, March 23

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Hi Blog.  What follows is a speech by Mr RYOM Munsong, read and presented to UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants, Dr. Jorge Bustamante, just before I did on March 23 (my speech here).  I have offered Debito.org as a space for Japan’s presenting NGOs to release their information to the general reading public.  Read on.  Arudou Debito in Tokyo.

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Association of Korean Human Rights in Japan

ブスタマンテ国連特別報告者との意見交換会

場所:衆議院第二議員会館第三会議室

日時:2010年3月23日

報告者:廉文成(RYOM Munsong)

Good afternoon, Dr. Bustamante, thank you very much for sparing us time to introduce human rights situation of Koreans in Japan. Today, I would like to talk about xenophobic movements against Korean school at grass-roots level and current Japanese government’s decision to exclude Korean school from new high school tuition-free measures.

Let me show you video picture.

This is the picture of assault against Korean primary school in Kyoto by one of the grass-roots right-wing organizations named “Citizen’s Group against Special Rights for Zainichi (foreigners in Japan)”, shortened to “Zaitokukai.” This group opposed what it calls ‘special rights’ for Koreans in Japan.

As you can watch, they shouted abusive words just in front of primary school. At that time, primary school students were studying in the school building. They might be frightened by their dirty words and violent behavior. They terrified Korean school children based on xenophobia. It is the violation of the rights of children to study without any physical and mental persecution.

Such kinds of assault should not be taken place. Furthermore, Japanese authorities should keep such human rights violations under strict control. What is more serious is that not a single member of this group was arrested by the Japanese police, which means that such assaults are not illegal in Japan under the pretext of freedom of speech or something. Xenophobia and human rights violations against foreigners can be observed at the grass-roots level.

By the way, let me briefly introduce the reason why Koreans are living in Japan. We, Koreans in Japan, are the offspring of those who came to Japan during the colonial period. Some were forcibly conscripted or taken as manual labour, others came to Japan to find the way to live. According to the statistics of the then Ministry of Home Affairs, about 30,000 Koreans lived in Japan in 1920, the number had increased by 300,000 in 1930. In 1945, the population of Koreans in Japan had reached around 2,400,000. On the whole, the first generation of Koreans in Japan originated from Japanese colonial rule.

Having such history, Koreans in Japan have established many Korean schools. Now, there are about 70 Korean schools; including one university and 10 high schools. The forerunner of Korean school was “training school for Korean language”, established just after the liberation all over Japan. The main purpose of this school was to teach Korean children their own language, culture and history so that their children could live when they went back to their country. They just wanted to get back Korean identities as Korean education was prohibited during colonial period. Although many Koreans went back to their fatherland after liberation, 600,000 to 800,000 Koreans remained in Japan. As time goes by, “training school for Korean language” developed into Korean school of today. Now, the main purpose of Korean school is to educate Korean students to live in Japan as Koreans with Korean identities.

However, Korean schools are still legally categorized as miscellaneous school like driving school. Despite the fact that they are socially recognized as schools with the same level of educational contents as average Japanese ones, they receive quite fewer amounts of educational assistance than that of Japanese private ones. The biggest factor should be absence of state subsidy from the government.

Furthermore, despite the fact that preferential treatments in the taxation system on donation to schools (reduction and exemption of tax for donors) are adopted not only to Japanese schools but also to international schools of western countries, this qualification is not granted to Korean schools. In addition, parents of Korean schools remain being excluded from the object in many scholarship systems.

On this issue, the UN Human Rights Committee issued several recommendations. I will introduce the latest recommendation of 2008. When the UN Human Rights Committee considered the fifth periodic report on International covenant on civil and political rights submitted by Japan (CCPR/C/JPN/5), the members of the committee expressed their concerns on the situation of Korean school students saying that “The Committee is concerned that state subsidies for schools that teach in the Korean language are significantly lower than those for ordinary schools, making them heavily dependent on private donations which are not exempted or deductible from taxes, unlike donations to private Japanese schools or international schools”. And the committee made recommendation saying that Japan “should ensure the adequate funding of Korean language schools, by increasing state subsidies and applying the same fiscal benefits to donors of Korean schools as to donors of other private schools, and recognize diplomas from Korean schools as direct university entrance qualifications.” (CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5)

To my regret, despite several efforts for the improvement of status of Korean school in Japan, they still suffer from economic difficulty.

Last year, when the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) came into power, it declared their tuition-free subsidy program of high schools. It was one of DPJ’s central campaign pledges during last August’s general election. The Diet is deliberating on a bill to make public high school tuition free and provide ¥120,000 yearly to those attending private schools or certified educational institutions. Schools for foreign students are considered eligible for the subsidy if they are deemed “the equivalent of Japanese high schools”. At the beginning, Korean schools were also included as beneficiary of this program. Last month, however, Hiroshi Nakai, minister in charge of the abduction issue, asked education minister to bar Korea schools from the planned tuition-free subsidy program saying that “If the government decided to designate Korean schools as beneficiaries of the subsidy program in addition to others, it would be tantamount to providing effective economic aid to North Korea, although Japan has applied its own sanctions to that country (in addition to U.N. sanctions)”. (The Japan Times, February 22, 2010)[1]

At last, the government of Japan decided to exclude Korean schools from high school tuition-free measures, and left the ultimate decision up to an assessment body to be established before long. This assessment body seems to examine whether the curriculum of Korean schools are comparable to the standard high school curriculum despite the fact that most of universities in Japan have received Korean school graduates. Furthermore, all of Korean schools are classified as the miscellaneous school under School Education Act, and other foreign schools of miscellaneous category are included in this program. Only Korean schools are excluded because of diplomatic situation between Tokyo and Pyongyang. Abduction issues or nuclear weapons have nothing to do with Korean school students in Japan. We cannot help regarding this decision as racial discrimination toward Korean people.

Given such a situation, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern about discriminatory policy towards Korean school students. In a report, issued on 16th of this month, the CERD committee expressed concern on “the continued incidence of explicit and crude statements and actions directed at groups including children attending Korean schools.” Moreover, the committee expressed concern not only on “the differential treatment of schools for foreigners and descendants of Korean and Chinese residing in Japan, with regard to public assistance, subsidies and tax exemptions” but also “the approach of some politicians suggesting the exclusion of North Korean schools from current proposals for legislative change in Japan to make high school education tuition free of charge in public and private high schools, technical colleges and various institutions with comparable high school curricula.” The panel recommended the government of Japan to “ensure that there is no discrimination in the provision of educational opportunities”.

As a country which has ratified several human rights conventions, the government of Japan should respect and ensure the rights of minorities. Korean schools which were established to restore ethnicity which was deprived during the colonial period and to succeed it to the next generation should be the subject for positive support.

In my opinion, government’s decision not to grant any substitute to Korean school is made based not only on diplomatic relation between two countries but also on their discriminatory idea towards Korea.

Finally, let me introduce media reports on this issue. Some Japanese newspapers also oppose government’s decision to exclude Korean school from this program. The Asahi Shimbun newspaper (on February 24 and March 8 ) and The Japan Times (on March 14) carried their editorials to oppose government’s decision. These are the copy of them. I think their opinions are not pro-Pyongyang (and still contain bias), but quite reasonable and common-sense views from the perspective of universal value of human rights.

Thank you very much for your attention.


[1] http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100222a2.html

ENDS

FRANCA meeting with UN Rep Bustamante yesterday: How it went, with photos

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Hi Blog.  As you know, as representative of NGO FRANCA I met with Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Dr Jorge A. Bustamante on March 23, 2010. Here’s a briefing:

Starting from 9AM at one of the Diet Lower House meeting rooms, I sat in as Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity with Migrants Japan made their cases about how NJ are being treated badly by the media, the government, and labor policy. Dr Bustamante asked a lot of questions and wanted statistics, particularly about the death rates for migrant workers (we were all surprised; he said that in other developed countries those statistics were available at the government level, something inconceivable to us). After 45 minutes, he went off to meetings with GOJ officials.

We were supposed to meet again for another 45 minutes from 1PM, but Dr Bustamante arrived more than twenty minutes late. (This is a typical GOJ trick so the NGOs get less time; if NGOs go overtime, they become the object of criticism, but if the GOJ goes overtime, nobody complains but the NGOs.) A representative from the Zainichi Koreans, an academic from Korea University (Kodaira, Tokyo) named Mr RYOM Munsong, kept his speech to 12 minutes, I kept mine to twelve as well (we had timers), and mixed our powerpoint with movie and speech.

As far as I went, I was able to squeeze in my full introduction and two of my five bullet issues, then had to skip to the end with the entreaty to not see NJ as “temporary migrant workers” but “immigrants” (read entire speech here). But I was very disappointed that we had virtually no time for Q&A (Dr Bustamante looked tired), and that all that preparation was cut short because we were keeping our promises with the scheduling and the GOJ was not.

Some photos from the proceedings:

Morning session with Dr. Bustamante [removed by request]:

Afternoon session:

Mr RYOM Munsong from Korea University gives his powerpoint.  I sit back and get out of the way so the media could film him.  Note fat blue folder on table just itching to be given to Dr. Bustamante.

Then I’m on:

Second from right is Dr Bustamante, with Ms Valentina Milano, Human Rights Officer, OHCHR.

I have to barnstorm through; I finish in 12 minutes 58.9 seconds.  Note mp3 recorder and iPod timer.  I’ll have a recording of my speech as my next DEBITO.ORG PODCAST up in a couple of weeks.  If you want to see the powerpoint for yourselves, click http://www.debito.org/FRANCABustamantepresentation032310.ppt.  Table of contents with links to all articles at http://www.debito.org/?p=6201.

The good news is that everything I wanted to say, even if i did not say it, is on paper or online.  Everything, including that fat folder, is now in Dr Bustamante’s hands.

It’s heavy schlepping this around Japan.

Genuine Monbetsu “Japanese Only” sign enclosed as a souvenir.

Everything completely indexed and categorized for ease of reading.

This is FRANCA at work.  Join us for our meeting this coming Saturday in Tokyo.

I was a bit dejected, so to make sure the day wasn’t a total wipeout, I went to the Diet building (they’ve only recently opened up tours of the Lower House) and took a free hourlong tour.

It wasn’t much (the Upper House, which I’ve done three times, is much better, and much friendlier), as the cop who acted as our tour guide was practically inaudible, and the attitude was “let’s get this crowd out of here as quickly as possible” (I happened to join three tour busses; the Hato Bus tour guide also agreed the Upper House is much better).  Then I came back to Gotanda, had authentic Chinese takeout, and retired to write this all up.

I’ll probably be attending more meetings with NGOs tomorrow as an observer.  If there is anything of note, or any statements from the NGOs they want made public here, I’ll have them up soon.

Thanks to everyone for your input!

Arudou Debito in Tokyo

Rough draft text of my speech to UN Rep Bustamante Mar 23 in Tokyo

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. What follows is a rough draft of the text of the speech I’ll be giving on Tues, March 23, before a United Nations rep. I have twenty minutes tops. I read this at a normal pace aloud today and it came about sixteen minutes. Eight pages, 2500 words, written in a conversational style. FYI. Thanks for your support, and see you at the upcoming FRANCA meetings this Sunday and next Saturday. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Statements to Mr Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, in Tokyo, March 23, 2010, by ARUDOU Debito, Chair, Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA, www.francajapan.org), regarding racial discrimination in Japan.

This document may be downloaded at http://www.debito.org/ArudouBustamantestatement032310.doc

The powerpoint accompanying this presentation may be downloaded at http://www.debito.org/FRANCABustamantepresentation032310.ppt

Table of contents for the belowmentioned “blue folder” with links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=6201


First, let me thank Mr. Bustamante and the United Nations for their attention to the situation of minorities and disenfranchised peoples in Japan.  There are very few effective forums in Japan for us to take our grievances, and we all very much appreciate the Special Rapporteur hearing as many sides of the story as possible.

I wish to focus on the situation of peoples of “foreign” origin and appearance, such as White and non-Asian peoples like me, and how we tend to be treated in Japanese society.  Put simply, we are not officially registered or even counted sometimes as genuine residents.  We are not treated as taxpayers, not protected as consumers, not seen as ethnicities even in the national census.  We not even regarded as deserving of the same human rights as Japanese, according to government-sponsored opinion polls and human rights surveys (blue folder items I-1, I-6 and III-6).  This view of “foreigner” as “only temporary in Japan” is a blind spot even the United Nations seems to share, but I’ll get that later.

Here is a blue 500-page information folder I will give you after my talk, with primary source materials, articles, reference papers, and testimonials from other people in Japan who would like their voice heard.  It will substantiate what I will be saying in summary below.

To start off, here is an overview of our presence in Japan.  According to official figures, the number of Non-Japanese on 3-month visas and up in Japan has grown since 1990 from about one million to over two million.  The number of Permanent Residents has reached record numbers, of over one million.  In other words, about half of all registered Non-Japanese in Japan can stay here permanently.  I would like to point out here how difficult it is to receive Permanent Residency in Japan.  It takes about five years if you are married to a Japanese, ten years if you are not.  The point is, a million Non-Japanese Permanent Residents are not a “temporary” segment of Japanese society.

Moreover, this does not count the estimated 300,000 to 500,000 naturalized Japanese citizens since the 1960’s.  I am one of those naturalized Japanese citizens.  Nor does this count the international families from Non-Japanese marrying Japanese.  We have about 40,000 international marriages every year, a significant increase from the 30,000 per year a decade ago.  If each couple has two children over their lifetime, which is not an unreasonable assumption, eventually that means 80,000 ethnically-diverse Japanese children.  Over ten years, that adds up to 800,000 – almost a million again.  However, not all of these children will “look Japanese”.

Sadly, we don’t know how many children, or people, of diverse backgrounds with Japanese citizenship are out there, because the Japanese Census does not survey for ethnicity.  The Japanese Census only surveys for nationality, despite our repeated requests for the census to reflect Japan’s diversity.  Meaning, when I fill out the Census, I write down “Japanese” for my nationality, but there is no way for me to indicate that I am a “Caucasian Japanese”, or an “Japanese of American extraction” (amerika kei nihonjin).  I believe this is by design, because the politics of identity in Japan are “monoculturality and monoethnicity”.  This is simply a fiction.  It wasn’t true in the past, and with modern Japan’s emerging immigration, assimilation, and ethnic diversity, it’s even less true now.  The official conflation of Japanese nationality and ethnicity is incorrect, and our government is willfully refusing to collect any data that would correct that.

The point is, the lines have blurred to the point where we cannot tell who is “Japanese” any more just by looking at them.  This means any time we have any distinctions made between “foreigner” and “Japanese”, be it police racial profiling or “Japanese Only” signs, it will also affect some Japanese citizens too.  This is why we need a law against racial discrimination in Japan – not only because it will help non-citizens assimilate into Japan, but also it will protect Japanese against xenophobia, bigotry, and exclusionism.  Discrimination that is “deep and profound”, and “practiced undisturbed in Japan”, according to UN Rapporteur Doudou Diene in 2005 and 2006[1].

At this point, I would like to show some differences in standpoint, between my esteemed colleagues and minorities being represented today, and the people I am trying to speak for.  The minorities in Japan as defined under the CERD, including the Ainu, the Ryūkyūans, the Zainichi Special Permanent Resident ethnic Koreans and Chinese, and the Burakumin, will be speaking to you this week and next as people who have been here for a long time, much longer than people like me, of course.  They make their claims based upon time-honored and genuine grievances that have never been properly redressed.  For ease of understanding, I will call some of them the “Oldcomers”.  I am here on behalf of what I will call the “Newcomers”, people who have come here from other countries relatively recently, to make a life in Japan.  Both “Oldcomers” and “Newcomers” contribute to Japanese society, including taxes, service, and culture.  But it is we “Newcomers” who really need the protections of a Japanese law against racial discrimination, because we, the people who are seen because of our skin color as “foreigners” in Japan, are often singled out and targeted for our own special variety of discriminatory treatment.

Here are examples I will talk briefly about now:

1) Discrimination in housing and accommodation

2) Racial Profiling by Japanese Police, through policies officially depicting Non-Japanese as criminals, terrorists, and carriers of infectious disease

3) Refusal to be registered or counted as residents by the Japanese Government

4) “Japanese Only” exclusions in businesses open to the public

5) Objects of unfettered hate speech

All of these examples are substantiated in the blue information folder, but again, words in brief about each item.

1) Discrimination in housing and accommodation

One of the first barriers many Newcomers face in Japan is the daunting prospect of finding an apartment.  According to the Mainichi Shimbun (Jan 8 2010[2]), on average in Tokyo it takes 15 visits to realtors for a Non-Japanese to find an apartment.   Common experience — and this is all we have because there is no government study of this problem — dictates that the agent generally phrases the issue to landlords as, “The renter is a foreigner, but is that okay?”  This overt discrimination happens with complete impunity in Japan.  One Osaka realtor[3] even advertises apartments as “gaijin allowed”, thus an option at odds with the status quo.  Again, there is no national government body collecting information on this problem, or hearing grievances.  The people who face discriminatory landlords can only take them to court.  This means years, money for lawyers and court fees, and an uncertain outcome, when all you need is a place to live, now.

Another issue is hotels.  They are expressly forbidden by the Hotel Management Law Article 5 to refuse customers unless rooms are full, there is a clear threat of contagious disease, or a clear threat to “public morals” (as in pornography).  However, government surveys, according to CNN et.al, (Oct 9, 2008[4]), indicate that 27% of all Japanese hotels don’t want foreign guests.  Not to be outdone, the Fukushima Prefecture Tourist Information website until last January advertised, as per their own preset options, that 318 of their member hotels were all refusing Non-Japanese[5], even though this is clearly illegal.  Thus even when a law technically forbids exclusionism, it is not enforced.  Excluders even get promoted by the authorities.

2) Racial Profiling by Japanese Police

Another rude awakening happens when you walk down the street.  Japanese police will stop you in public, sometimes rudely demand your ID card (which all foreigners – only — must carry at all times or face incarceration and criminal prosecution), and record your personal details.  This can be for walking while White, cycling while foreign-looking, using public transportation while multiethnic, or standing waiting for arrivals at airports while colored.  In one person’s case, he has been “carded”, sometimes through physical force, more than 50 times in one year, as of today exactly 125 times over ten years (blue folder item I-2).

The police claim they are hunting for foreign criminals and visa overstayers, or there are special security measures or campaigns in place, etc.  However, you can see in the blue folder, this is an extension of the depiction of Non-Japanese in official government policies as “terrorists, criminals, and carriers of infectious diseases” (items II-9 through 11).  None of these things are contingent on nationality.  Consequently, after 2007 all non-citizens must be fingerprinted every time they re-enter Japan.  This includes the “Newcomer” Permanent Residents, which goes farther than its model, the US-VISIT program this, which does not refingerprint Green Card holders.  The epitome of bad physical and social science must be the National Research Institute of Police Science, which has received years of government grants to research “foreign DNA”, for more effective racial profiling at crime scenes (see blue folder item II-2).

In sum, thanks to national policy justifying racial profiling, the Japanese police are seeing non-Japanese as “foreign agents” in both senses of the word.  They are systematically taking measures to deal with them as a social problem, not a fellow resident or immigrant.  Furthermore, it goes without saying that enforcement depends upon personal appearance, as I too have been racially profiled on several occasions by police in public.

3) Refusal to be counted as residents by the Japanese Government

It is too complicated to talk about fully here (see blue folder, item III-1), but Japan’s registration system, meaning the current Koseki Family Registry and the Jūminhyō Residency Certificate systems, refuse to list Non-Japanese as “spouse” — or even “family member”.  Because they are not citizens.  In sum, officially Non-Japanese residents are not “residents” (jūmin), even though they pay Residency Taxes (jūminzei) like anyone else.  Worse, some local governments (such as Tokyo Nerima Ward[6]) do not even count Non-Japanese in their population tallies.  This is the ultimate in invisibility, and it is government-sanctioned.

4) “Japanese Only” exclusions in businesses open to the public

Since Japan has no law against racial discrimination, there have been signs up nationwide at places open to the general public, saying “Japanese Only”, “No Foreigners allowed”, etc. (blue folder item III-1).  Places enforcing exclusionary rules include stores, restaurants, hotels, family public bathhouses, bars, discos, an eyeglass outlet, a ballet school, an internet café, a billiards hall, a women’s boutique, and a newspaper subscription service.  Nevertheless, the government has said repeatedly to the UN that we don’t a racial discrimination law because we have an effective judicial system.  That is untrue.  In the Otaru Onsens Case (1999-2005, blue folder items III-1 and III-7), where two Non-Japanese and one naturalized Japanese were excluded from a public bathhouse, judges refused to rule that this activity was illegal due to racial discrimination.  They called it “unrational discrimination”.  Moreover, they refused to enforce the CERD as law, or sanction the negligent Otaru City government for not taking effective measures against racial discrimination.  The Supreme Court even refused to hear the case.  Furthermore, in 2006, an African-American was refused entry into an eyeglass store by an openly racist owner, yet the Osaka District Court ruled in favor of the owner!   We need a criminal law, with enforceable punishments, because the present judicial system will not fix this.

5) Objects of unfettered hate speech

The blue folder talks more about cyberbullying of minorities and prejudiced statements made by our politicians over the years.  Other NGOs will talk more about the anti-Korean and anti-Chinese hate speech during the current debate about granting local suffrage rights to Permanent Residents.  I would instead like to briefly mention some media, such as magazine “Underground Files of Crimes by Gaijin [sic]” (Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu (2007), blue folder item III-2), or “PR Suffrage will make Japan Disappear” (Gaikokujin Sanseiken de Nihon ga Nakunaru Hi) (2010[7]).  Both of these books stretch their case to talk about an innate criminality or deviousness in the foreign element, and “Underground Files of  Crimes” even includes things that are not crimes, such as dating Japanese women.  It even includes epithets like “nigger”, racist caricatures, and ponderings on whether Korean pudenda smell like kimchi.  This is hate speech.  And it is not illegal in Japan.

=========================

To summarize, the Japanese government’s stance towards the CERD is simple (blue folder item VI-1).  The Ainu, Ryūkūans, and Burakumin are citizens, therefore they don’t need CERD protection because they are protected by the Japanese Constitution.  However, the Zainichis and “Newcomers” are not citizens, therefore they don’t get protection from the CERD.  Therefore, our government effectively argues, the CERD does not cover anyone in Japan.

Yeah, well what about me?  Or our children?  Are there really no ethnic minorities with Japanese citizenship in Japan?

In conclusion, I would like to thank the United Nations and their Rapporteurs for investigating our cases.  The CERD Committee on March 16, 2010 (CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6), issued some very welcome recommendations.  However, and I would like to go back to something I said in the beginning, that the UN has a blind spot in these negotiations.

In the CERD Committee’s discussions with the Japanese government in Geneva on February 24 and 25, 2010, very little mention was made of the CERD’s non-enforcement in Japan’s judiciary and criminal code.   Almost no mention was made of Japan’s “Japanese Only” signs.  These are the most indefensible violation of the CERD.

The problem is, both sides, both Japan and the UN, have a blind spot in how they perceive Japan’s “minorities”.  Non-Japanese were never couched as residents of or immigrants to Japan, but rather as “foreign migrants”.  The unconscious assumption seems to be that 1) “foreign migrants” have a “temporary status” in Japan (particularly when Japan’s reps portrayed ethnic schools for Non-Japanese as for “foreign children in Japan only for the short stay”), and 2) Japan has few “ethnically diverse Japanese citizens”.

Look, it’s time for an update.  Look at me.  I am a Japanese.  Like any other.  Because the government put me through a very rigorous and arbitrary test for naturalization and I passed it.  People like me are part of Japan’s future.  Please, when you make your recommendations, have them reflect how Japan has changed, and how Japan must face up to its multicultural society already in place.  Please, recognize us “Newcomers” as a permanent part of the debate.  The Japanese government still will not.  They say little that is positive about us.  And they allow very nasty things to be said by our politicians, policymakers, and police.

It’s about time we all recognized the good things that we “Newcomers” too are doing for our home, Japan.  Please help us.

ENDS


[1] www.debito.org/rapporteur.html

[2] www.debito.org/?p=5703

[3] www.debito.org/?p=723

[4] www.debito.org/?p=1940

[5] www.debito.org/?p=5619

[6] www.debito.org/?p=1972

[7] www.debito.org/?p=6182

ENDS

UN CERD Recommendations to GOJ Mar 2010 CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6, takes up our issues well

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Committee just issued its latest recommendations to the GOJ on March 16,  stating what Japan should be doing to abide by the treaty they effected nearly a decade and a half ago, in 1996.

Guess what:  A lot of it is retread (as they admit) of what the CERD Commitee first recommended in 2001 (when Japan submitted its first report, years late), and Japan still hasn’t done.

To me, unsurprising, but it’s still nice to see the UN more than a little sarcastic towards the GOJ’s egregious and even somewhat obnoxious negligence towards international treaties.  For example, when it set the deadline for the GOJ’s answer to these recommendations for January 14, 2013, it wrote:

UN:  “Noting that the State party report was considerably overdue, the Committee requests the State party to be mindful of the deadline set for the submission of future reports in order to meet its obligations under the Convention.”

Again, some more juicy quotes, then the full report, with issues germane to Debito.org in boldface.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

===========================

7. The Committee notes with concern that insufficient information regarding the concrete measures for the implementation of its previous concluding observations (2001) was provided by the State Party and regrets their overall limited implementation as well as that of the Convention as a whole.

The Committee notes the State party’s view that a national anti-discrimination law is not necessary and is concerned about the consequent inability of individuals or groups to seek legal redress for discrimination (art. 2) [meaning under current Japanese law, FRANCA cannot sue the Sumo Association for its recent racist rules counting foreign-born sumo wrestlers as foreign even if they naturalize.   Nor will Japan allow class-action lawsuits.   The UN says this must change.] The Committee reiterates its recommendation from previous concluding observations (2001) and urges the State party to consider adopting specific legislation to outlaw direct and indirect racial discrimination…

13. […] The Committee reiterates its view that the prohibition of the dissemination of ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred is compatible with freedom of opinion and expression and in this respect, encourages the State party to examine the need to maintain its reservations to article 4 (a) and (b) of the Convention with a view to reducing their scope and preferably their withdrawal. The Committee recalls that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, in particular the obligation not to disseminate racist ideas and calls upon the State party once again to take into account the Committee’s general recommendations No. 7 (1985) and No. 15 (1993)…

14. […] the Committee reiterates its concern from previous concluding observations (2001) that discriminatory statements by public officials persist and regrets the absence of administrative or legal action…

22. (b) […] the principle of compulsory education is not fully applied to children of foreigners in the State party in conformity with articles 5 (e.v) of the Convention; 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and 13 (2) of the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, all of which Japan is a party;

24. The Committee expresses its concern about cases of difficulty in relations between Japanese and non-Japanese and in particular, cases of race and nationality-based refusals of the right of access to places and services intended for use by the general public, such as restaurants, family public bathhouses, stores and hotels, in violation of article 5 (f) of the Convention (art. 2, 5).

The Committee recommends that the State party counter this generalized attitude through educational activities directed to the population as a whole and that it adopt a national law making illegal the refusal of entry to places open to the public.

29. The Committee encourages the State party to consider making the optional declaration provided for in article 14 of the Convention recognizing the competence of the Committee to receive and consider individual complaints.

From http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/cerds76.htm

Word format file on this downloadable from http://www.debito.org/CERDCJPNCO36Mar2010.doc

/////////////////////////////////////////////

CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6
Distr.: General

16 March 2010

Original: English

ADVANCE UNEDITED VERSION

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Seventy-sixth session

15 February- 12 March 2010

Consideration of reports submitted by states parties under article 9 of the Convention

Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Japan

1. The Committee considered the combined third to sixth reports of Japan (CERD/C/JPN/3-6) at its 1987th and 1988th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1987 and CERD/C/SR.1988), held on 24th and 25th February 2010. At its 2004th and 2005th meetings (CERD/C/SR.2004 and CERD/C/SR.2005), held on 9 March 2010, it adopted the following concluding observations.

A. Introduction

2. The Committee welcomes the submission of the third to sixth periodic reports by the State party. It expresses its appreciation for the constructive dialogue held with the large delegation, the written replies provided to the list of issues and the oral replies to the questions posed by Committee members, which together provided further insights into the implementation of the rights in the Convention. Noting that the State party report was considerably overdue, the Committee requests the State party to be mindful of the deadline set for the submission of future reports in order to meet its obligations under the Convention.

B. Positive aspects

3. The Committee notes with interest the State party’s pilot resettlement program for Myanmar refugees (2010).

4. The Committee welcomes the support of the State Party to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (September 2007).

5. The Committee congratulates the State party for the recognition of the Ainu people as an indigenous people (2008) and notes with interest the creation of the Council for Ainu Policy (2009).

6. The Committee notes with appreciation the adoption of regulations against illegal and harmful information on the Internet, including the revised Guidelines for Defamation and Privacy (2004), the Provider Liability Limitation Law (2002) and the Model Provision for Contracts related to Actions against Illegal and Harmful Information (2006).

C. Concerns and recommendations

7. The Committee notes with concern that insufficient information regarding the concrete measures for the implementation of its previous concluding observations (2001) was provided by the State Party and regrets their overall limited implementation as well as that of the Convention as a whole.

The State Party is encouraged to comply with all recommendations and decisions addressed to it by the Committee and to take all necessary steps to ensure that national legal provisions further the effective implementation of the Convention.

8. While noting existing national and local provisions guaranteeing equality before the law, including article 14 of the Constitution, the Committee highlights that the grounds of discrimination in article 1 of the Convention are not fully covered. Further, while the Committee regrets the State party’s interpretation of racial discrimination based on descent, it is encouraged by information on steps taken by the State party in the spirit of the Convention to prevent and eliminate discrimination against Burakumin (art. 1).

The Committee maintains its position expressed in general recommendation No. 29 (2002) “that discrimination based on ‘descent’ has a meaning and application which complement the other prohibited grounds of discrimination and includes discrimination against members of communities based on forms of social stratification and analogous systems of inherited status which nullify or impair their equal enjoyment of human rights.” Moreover, the Committee reaffirms that the term “descent” in article 1, paragraph 1, the Convention does not solely refer to “race” and that discrimination on the ground of descent is fully covered by article 1 of the Convention. The Committee, therefore, urges the State party to adopt a comprehensive definition of racial discrimination in conformity with the Convention.

9. The Committee notes the State party’s view that a national anti-discrimination law is not necessary and is concerned about the consequent inability of individuals or groups to seek legal redress for discrimination (art. 2).

The Committee reiterates its recommendation from previous concluding observations (2001) and urges the State party to consider adopting specific legislation to outlaw direct and indirect racial discrimination, in accordance with article 1 of the Convention, and to cover all rights protected by the Convention.  It also encourages the State party to ensure that law enforcement officials approached with complaints of racial discrimination have adequate expertise and authority to deal with offenders and to protect victims of discrimination.

10. While noting with interest that the State party held consultations and informal hearings with non-governmental organizations and other groups in the drafting of the report, the Committee regrets the limited opportunities for collection and exchange of information with such organizations and groups.

The Committee notes the positive contributions made in the field of human rights and the role played by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Japan and encourages the State party to ensure the effective participation of NGOs in the consultation process during the preparation of the next periodic report.

11. The Committee notes the information provided by the State party on the composition of the population but regrets that the available body of data does not allow for an adequate understanding and assessment of the situation of vulnerable groups in the State party.

The Committee, in accordance with paragraphs 10 and 12 of its revised reporting guidelines (CERD/C/2007/1) as well as its general recommendations No. 8 (1990) on the interpretation of article 1 of the Convention and No. 30 (2004) on discrimination against non-citizens, recommends that the State party  conduct research into languages commonly spoken, mother tongue or other indicators of diversity of the population together with information from social surveys,  on the basis of voluntary self-identification, with full respect for the privacy and anonymity of the individuals concerned, in order to evaluate the composition and situation of groups within the definition of article 1 of the Convention. The Committee further encourages the State party to provide updated disaggregated data on the non-citizen population in its next periodic report.

12. While taking account of the State party’s commitment to consider the establishment of a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles (General Assembly resolution 48/134), the Committee regrets the repeal of the proposed Human Rights Protection Bill, which included provisions for the establishment of a human rights commission, as well as the delays and overall absence of concrete actions and time frame for the establishment of an independent national human rights institution. The Committee also notes with concern the lack of a comprehensive and effective complaints mechanism (art. 2).

The Committee encourages the State party to draft and adopt a human rights protection bill and promptly establish a legal complaints mechanism. It also urges the establishment of a well-financed and adequately staffed independent human rights institution, in compliance with the Paris Principles, with a broad human rights mandate and a specific mandate to address contemporary forms of discrimination.

13. While noting the explanations provided by the State party, the Committee is concerned by the reservations to articles 4 (a) and (b) of the Convention. The Committee also notes with concern the continued incidence of explicit and crude statements and actions directed at groups including children attending Korean schools as well as harmful, racist expressions and attacks via the Internet aimed, in particular, against Burakumin (arts. 4a, 4b).

The Committee reiterates its view that the prohibition of the dissemination of ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred is compatible with freedom of opinion and expression and in this respect, encourages the State party to examine the need to maintain its reservations to article 4 (a) and (b) of the Convention with a view to reducing their scope and preferably their withdrawal. The Committee recalls that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, in particular the obligation not to disseminate racist ideas and calls upon the State party once again to take into account the Committee’s general recommendations No. 7 (1985) and No. 15 (1993), according to which article 4 is of mandatory nature, given the non-self-executing character of its provisions. It recommends that the State party:

(a) Remedy the absence of legislation to give full effect to the provisions against discrimination under article 4;

(b) ensure that relevant constitutional, civil and criminal law provisions are effectively implemented, including through additional steps to address hateful and racist manifestations by, inter alia, enhancing efforts to investigate them and punish those involved; and

(c) increase sensitization and awareness-raising campaigns against the dissemination of racist ideas and to prevent racially motivated offences including hate speech and racist propaganda on the Internet.

14. While noting the measures being taken by the State party to provide human rights education to public officials, the Committee reiterates its concern from previous concluding observations (2001) that discriminatory statements by public officials persist and regrets the absence of administrative or legal action taken by the authorities in this regard, in violation of article 4 (c) of the Convention. It is further concerned that the existing laws on defamation, insult and intimidation making statements punishable are not specific to racial discrimination and only apply in case of injury to specific individuals (art. 4c, 6).

The Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party strongly condemn and oppose any statement by public officials, national or local, which tolerates or incites racial discrimination and that it intensify its efforts to promote human rights awareness among politicians and public officials. It also recommends with urgency that the State party enact a law that directly prohibits racist and xenophobic statements, and guarantees access to effective protection and remedies against racial discrimination through competent national courts. The Committee also recommends that the State party undertake the necessary measures to prevent such incidents in the future and to provide relevant human rights education, including specifically on racial discrimination to all civil servants, law enforcement officers and administrators as well as the general population.

15. Noting that family court mediators do not have any public decision making powers, the Committee expresses concern over the fact that qualified non-nationals are not able to participate as mediators in dispute settlement. It also notes that no data was provided regarding the participation of non-nationals in public life (art. 5).

The Committee recommends that the State party review its position so as to allow competent non-nationals recommended as candidates for mediation to work in family courts. It also recommends that it provide information on the right to participation of non-nationals in public life in its next report.

16. While noting with interest the increasing number of non-Japanese residents in the State party, including those applying for naturalization, the Committee reiterates the view expressed in its previous concluding observations (2001) that the name of an individual is a fundamental aspect of cultural and ethnic identity that must be respected. In this regard, the Committee expresses its concern that for naturalization purposes, applicants continue to change their names out of fear of discrimination rather than as acts of free choice (art. 5).

The Committee recommends that the State party develop an approach where the identity of non-Japanese nationals seeking naturalization is respected and that officials, application forms and publications dealing with the naturalization process refrain from using language that persuades applicants to adopt Japanese names and characters for fear of disadvantages or discrimination.

17. While noting the revised Act for the Prevention of Spousal Violence and Protection of Victims (2007) to extend protection to victims regardless of nationality and strengthen the role of local governments, the Committee notes with concern the obstacles to access complaints mechanisms and protection services faced by women victims of domestic and sexual violence. It notes with particular concern that changes to the Immigration Control Act (2009) pose difficulties for foreign women suffering domestic violence. It also regrets the lack of information and data provided about the incidence of violence against women (Art 5).

In the light of its general recommendation No. 25 (2000) on gender-related dimensions of racial discrimination, the Committee recommends that the State party adopt all necessary measures to address phenomena of double discrimination, in particular regarding women and children from vulnerable groups. It also reiterates its previous recommendation (2001) that the State party collect data and conduct research on the measures to prevent gender-related racial discrimination, including exposure to violence.

18. While acknowledging the State party’s position on the family registration system, and noting the legislative changes made to protect personal information (2008), the Committee reiterates its concern about the difficulties in the system and that invasion of privacy, mainly of Burakumin, continues (art. 2, 5).

The Committee recommends the enacting of a stricter law, with punitive measures, prohibiting use of the family registration system for discriminatory purposes, particularly in the fields of employment, marriage and housing, and to effectively protect privacy of individuals.

19. Noting with interest the State party’s recognition of discrimination against Burakumin as a social problem as well as the achievements of the Dowa Special Measures Law, the Committee is concerned that the conditions agreed between the State party and Buraku organizations upon termination in 2002 regarding full implementation of the Convention, the enactment of a law on human rights protection and a law on the promotion of human rights education, have not been fulfilled to date. The Committee regrets that there is no public authority specifically mandated to deal with Burakumin discrimination cases and notes the absence of a uniform concept used by the State party when dealing with or referring to Burakumin and policies. Further, the Committee notes with concern that although socio-economic gaps between Burakumin and others have narrowed for some Burakumin, e.g., in the physical living environment and education, they remain in areas of public life such as employment and marriage discrimination, housing and land values. It further regrets the lack of indicators to measure progress in the situation of Burakumin (art. 2, 5).

The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Assign a specific government agency or committee mandated to deal with Buraku issues;

(b) fulfil the commitments made upon the termination of the Special  Measures Law;

(c) engage in consultation with relevant persons to adopt a clear and uniform definition of Burakumin;

(d) supplement programmes for the improvement of living conditions of  Buraku with human rights education and awareness-raising efforts engaging the general public, particularly in areas housing Buraku communities;

(e) provide statistical indicators reflecting the situation and progress of the above-mentioned measures; and

(f) take into account general recommendation No. 32 (2009) on special measures, including the recommendation that special measures are to be terminated when equality between the beneficiary groups and others has been sustainably achieved.

20. While welcoming the recognition of the Ainu as an indigenous people and noting with interest measures reflecting the State party’s commitment including a working group to set up a symbolic public facility and another to conduct a survey on the status of Ainu outside of Hokkaido, the Committee expresses its concern about:

(a) the insufficient representation of Ainu people in consultation fora and in the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons;

(b) the absence of any national survey on the development of the rights of Ainu people and improvement of their social position in Hokkaido;

(c) The limited progress so far towards implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (art. 2, 5).

The Committee recommends that further steps be taken in conjunction with Ainu representatives to translate consultations into policies and programmes with clear and targeted action plans that address Ainu rights and recommends that the participation of Ainu representatives in consultations be increased. It also recommends that the State party, in consultation with Ainu representatives, consider the establishment of a third working group with the purpose of examining and implementing international commitments such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It urges the State party to carry out a national survey of living conditions of Ainu in Hokkaido and recommends that the State party take into account the Committee’s general recommendation No. 23 (1997). The Committee further recommends that the State party consider ratifying ILO Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries.

21. While highlighting that UNESCO has recognized a number of Ryukyu languages (2009), as well as the Okinawans’ unique ethnicity, history, culture and traditions, the Committee regrets the approach of the State party to accord due recognition to Okinawa’s distinctness and expresses its concern about the persistent discrimination suffered by the people of Okinawa. It further reiterates the analysis of the Special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism that the disproportionate concentration of military bases on Okinawa has a negative impact on residents’ enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights (art. 2, 5).

The Committee encourages the State party to engage in wide consultations with Okinawan representatives with a view to monitoring discrimination suffered by the Okinawans, in order to promote their rights and establish appropriate protection measures and policies.

22. The Committee notes with appreciation the efforts taken by the State party to facilitate education for minority groups, including bilingual counsellors and enrolment guidebooks in seven languages, but regrets the lack of information on the implementation of concrete programmes to overcome racism in the education system. Moreover, the Committee expresses concern about acts that have discriminatory effects on children’s education including:

(a) the lack of adequate opportunities for Ainu children or children of other national groups to receive instruction in or of their language;

(b) the fact that the principle of compulsory education is not fully applied to children of foreigners in the State party in conformity with articles 5 (e.v) of the Convention; 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and 13 (2) of the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, all of which Japan is a party;

(c) obstacles in connection with school accreditation and curricular equivalencies and entry into higher education;

(d) the differential treatment of schools for foreigners and descendants of Korean and Chinese residing in the State party, with regard to public assistance,  subsidies and tax exemptions; and

(e) the approach of some politicians suggesting the exclusion of North Korean schools from current proposals for legislative change in the State party to make high school education tuition free of charge in public and private high schools, technical colleges and various institutions with comparable high school curricula (art. 2, 5).

The Committee, in light of its general recommendation No. 30 (2004) on discrimination against non-citizens, recommends that the State party ensure that there is no discrimination in the provision of educational opportunities and that no child residing in the territory of the State party faces obstacles in connection with school enrolment and the achievement of compulsory education. In this regard, it further recommends that a study on the multitude of school systems for foreigners and the preference for alternative regimes set up outside of the national public school system be carried out by the State party. The Committee encourages the State party to consider providing adequate opportunities for minority groups to receive instruction in or of their language and invites the State party to consider acceding to the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education.

23. The Committee notes with appreciation progress on the process of refugee status determination, but reiterates its concern that, according to some reports, different, preferential standards apply to asylum seekers from certain countries and that asylum seekers with different origins and in need of international protection have been forcibly returned to situations of risk. The Committee also expresses its concern over the problems recognized by refugees themselves including lack of proper access to asylum information, understanding about procedures, language/communication questions, and cultural disjunctions, including a lack of understanding by the public of refugee issues (art. 2, 5).

The Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party take the necessary measures to ensure standardized asylum procedures and equal entitlement to public services by all refugees. In this context, it also recommends that the State party ensure that all asylum-seekers have the right, inter alia, to an adequate standard of living and medical care. The Committee also urges the State party to ensure, in accordance with article 5 (b), that no person will be forcibly returned to a country where there are substantial grounds for believing that his/her life or health may be put at risk. The Committee recommends that the State party seek cooperation with UNHCR in this regard.

24. The Committee expresses its concern about cases of difficulty in relations between Japanese and non-Japanese and in particular, cases of race and nationality-based refusals of the right of access to places and services intended for use by the general public, such as restaurants, family public bathhouses, stores and hotels, in violation of article 5 (f) of the Convention (art. 2, 5).

The Committee recommends that the State party counter this generalized attitude through educational activities directed to the population as a whole and that it adopt a national law making illegal the refusal of entry to places open to the public.

25. The Committee is concerned that insufficient steps have been taken by the State party to revise textbooks with a view to conveying an accurate message regarding the contribution of groups protected under the Convention to Japanese society (art. 5).

The Committee recommends that the State party carry out a revision of existing textbooks to better reflect the culture and history of minorities and that it encourage books and other publications about the history and culture of minorities, including in the languages spoken by them. It particularly encourages the State party to support teaching in and of the Ainu and Ryukyu languages in compulsory education.

26. While noting the measures to combat racial prejudices taken by the State party, such as setting up human rights counselling offices and human rights education and promotion, the Committee remains concerned at the lack of concrete information about the media and the integration of human rights in broadcasting of television and radio programmes (art. 7).

The Committee recommends that the State party intensify public education and awareness-raising campaigns, incorporating educational objectives of tolerance and respect, and ensuring adequate media representation of issues concerning vulnerable groups, both national and non-national, with a view to eliminating racial discrimination. The Committee also recommends that the State party pay particular attention to the role of the media in improving human rights education and that it strengthen measures to combat racial prejudice that leads to racial discrimination in the media and in the press. In addition, it recommends education and training for journalists and people working in the media sector to increase awareness of racial discrimination.

27. Bearing in mind the indivisibility of all human rights, the Committee encourages the State party to consider ratifying those international human rights treaties which it has not yet ratified, in particular treaties the provisions of which have a direct bearing on the subject of racial discrimination, such as the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1990), ILO Convention No. 111 on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (1958), the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide (1948).

28. In light of its general recommendation No. 33 (2009) on follow-up to the Durban Review Conference, the Committee recommends that the State party give effect to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted in September 2001 by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, taking into account the Outcome Document of the Durban Review Conference, held in Geneva in April 2009, when implementing the Convention in its domestic legal order. The Committee requests that the State party include in its next periodic report specific information on action plans and other measures taken to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action at the national level.

29. The Committee encourages the State party to consider making the optional declaration provided for in article 14 of the Convention recognizing the competence of the Committee to receive and consider individual complaints.

30. While noting the position of the State party, 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 14th Meeting of States Parties and approved by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/111 of 16 December 1992. In this connection, the Committee recalls General Assembly resolutions 61/148 of 19 December 2006, and 62/243 of 24 December 2008, in which the Assembly strongly urged States parties to the Convention to accelerate their domestic ratification procedures with regard to the amendment and to notify the Secretary-General expeditiously in writing of their agreement to the amendment.

31. The Committee recommends that the State party’s reports be made readily available and accessible to the public at the time of their submission, and that the observations of the Committee with respect to these reports be similarly publicized in the official and other commonly used languages, as appropriate.

32. Noting that the State Party submitted its Core Document in 2000, the Committee encourages the State Party to submit an updated version in accordance with the harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international human rights treaties, in particular those on the common core document, as adopted by the fifth inter-Committee meeting of the human rights treaty bodies held in June 2006 (HRI/MC/2006/3).

33. In accordance with article 9, paragraph 1, of the Convention and rule 65 of its amended rules of procedure, the Committee requests the State party to provide information, within one year of the adoption of the present conclusions, on its follow-up to the recommendations contained in paragraphs 12, 20 and 21 above. [on human rights bill and enforcement organs, Ainu and Okinawans)

34. The Committee also wishes to draw the attention of the State party to the particular importance of recommendations 19, 22 and 24 and requests that the State party provide detailed information in its next periodic report on concrete measures taken to implement these recommendations.

35. The Committee recommends that the State party submit its seventh, eight and ninth  periodic reports, due on  14 January  2013, taking into account the guidelines for the CERD-specific document adopted by the Committee during its seventy-first session (CERD/C/2007/1), and that it address all points raised in the present concluding observations.

ENDS

Table of Contents of FRANCA information folder to UN Spec. Rapporteur Bustamante, Mar 23. Last call for submissions from Debito.org Readers.

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  What follows is the Table of Contents for an information packet I will be presenting Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge A. Bustamante, who will be visiting Japan and holding hearings on the state of discrimination in Japan.  Presented on behalf of our NGO FRANCA (Sendai and Tokyo meetings on Sun Mar 21 and Sat Mar 27 respectively).

It’s a hefty packet of about 500 pages printed off or so, but I will keep a couple of pockets at the back for Debito.org Readers who would like to submit something about discrimination in Japan they think the UN should hear.  It can be anonymous, but better would be people who provide contact details about themselves.

Last call for that.  Two pages A4 front and back, max (play with the fonts and margins if you like).  Please send to debito@debito.org by NOON JST Thursday March 18, so I can print it on my laser printer and slip it in the back.

Here’s what I’ll be giving as part of an information pack.  I haven’t written my 20-minute presentation for March 23 yet, but thanks for all your feedback on that last week, everyone.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////

(FRANCA LETTERHEAD)

To Mr. Jorge Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants:

Date: March 23, 2010  Tokyo, Japan

Thank you for coming to Japan and hearing our side of the story.  We have a lot to say and few domestic forums that will listen to us.  –ARUDOU Debito, Chair, FRANCA Japan (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)

ANNOTATED CONTENTS OF THIS FOLDER:

Referential documents and articles appear in the following order:

I. On Government-sponsored Xenophobia and Official-level Resistance to Immigration

This section will seek to demonstrate that discrimination is not just a societal issue.  It is something promoted by the Japanese government as part of official policy.

  1. OVERVIEW:  Japan Times article:  “THE MYOPIC STATE WE’RE IN:  Fingerprint scheme exposes xenophobic, short-sighted trend in government” (December 18, 2007).  Point:  How government policy is hard-wiring the Japanese public into fearing and blaming Non-Japanese for Japan’s social ills. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20071218zg.html
  2. Japan Times article, “Beware the Foreigner as Guinea Pig“, on how denying rights to one segment of the population (NJ) affects everyone badly, as policies that damage civil liberties, once tested on Non-Japanese residents, eventually get applied to citizens too (July 8, 2008). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20080708zg.html
  3. Japan Times article:  “THE BLAME GAME:  Convenience, creativity seen in efforts to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community” (August 28, 2007), depicting foreigners as criminal invaders, and thwarting their ability to assimilate properly. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20070828zg.html
  4. Japan Times article: “VISA VILLAINS: Japan’s new Immigration law overdoes enforcement and penalties” (June 29, 2004) http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20040629zg.html
  5. Japan Times article, “Demography vs. Demagoguery“, on how politics has pervaded Japanese demographic science, making “immigration” a taboo for discussion as a possible solution to Japan’s aging society. (November 3, 2009) http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20091103ad.html
  6. Japan Times article: “HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY STINKS:  Government effort riddled with bias, bad science” (October 23, 2007), talking about how official government surveys render human rights “optional” for Non-Japanese, and downplays the discrimination against them. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20071023zg.html
  7. Japan Times article: “WATCHING THE DETECTIVES: Japan’s human rights bureau falls woefully short of meeting its own job specifications” (July 8, 2003), on how the oft-touted Ministry of Justice’s “Jinken Yōgobu” is in fact a Potemkin System, doing little to assist those with human rights issues in Japan. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20030708zg.html
  8. Japan Times article, “Unlike Humans, Swine Flu is Indiscriminate“, on the lessons to be learned from Japan’s public panic from the Swine Flu Pandemic, and how to avoid discrimination once again from arising (August 4, 2009). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090804ad.html
  9. Japan Times article, “Golden parachutes for Nikkei only mark failure of race-based policy“, on the downfall of Japan’s labor visa policies, e.g., the “April 2009 repatriation bribe” for the Nikkei Brazilians and Peruvians, sending them “home” with a pittance instead of treating them like laborers who made investments and contributions to Japan’s welfare and pension systems. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090407ad.html

II. On Abuses of Police Power and Racial Profiling vis-à-vis Non-Japanese

This section will seek to demonstrate that one arm of the government, the National Police Agency, has had a free hand in generating a fictitious “Foreign Crime Wave of the 2000s”, by characterizing Non-Japanese in the media as criminals, exaggerating or falsifying foreign crime reportage, bending laws to target them, engaging in flagrant racial profiling of minorities, and otherwise “making Japan the world’s safest country again” by portraying the foreign element as unsafe.

  1. Japan Times article: “DOWNLOADABLE DISCRIMINATION: The Immigration Bureau’s new “snitching” Web site is both short-sighted and wide open to all manner of abuses.” (March 30, 2004), on how online submission sites (which still exist) run by the government are open to the general public, for anonymous reporting of anyone who “looks foreign and suspicious” to the police. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20040330zg.html
  2. Japan Times article: “FORENSIC SCIENCE FICTION: Bad science and racism underpin police policy” (January 13, 2004), how the National Research Institute for Police Science has received government grants to study “foreign DNA” (somehow seen as genetically different from all Japanese DNA) for crime scene investigation.   http://search.japantimes.co.jp/member/member.html?fl20040113zg.htm
  3. 3. Japan Times article:  “FOREIGN CRIME STATS COVER UP A REAL COP OUT:  Published figures are half the story” (Oct 4, 2002), indicating how the National Police Agency is falsifying and exaggerating foreign crime statistics to create the image of Non-Japanese residents as criminals. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20021004zg.html
  4. Japan Times article: “HERE COMES THE FEAR: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents” (May 24, 2005), showing nascent anti-terrorist policy introduced by the Koizumi Administration specifically targeting Non-Japanese as terrorists. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20050524zg.html
  5. Debito.org Website:  “Ibaraki Prefectural Police put up new and improved public posters portraying Non-Japanese as coastal invaders” (November 20, 2008), and “Ibaraki Police’s third new NJ-scare poster” (July 29, 2009), showing how the Japanese police are putting up public posters portraying the issue as defending Japanese shores from foreign invasion, complete with images of beach storming, riot gear and machine guns.  www.debito.org/?p=2057 and www.debito.org/?p=3996
  6. Japan Times article: “UPPING THE FEAR FACTOR:  There is a disturbing gap between actual crime in Japan and public worry over it” (February 20, 2007), showing the Koizumi policy in full bloom, plus the media’s complicity in abetting the National Police Agency’s generation of a “foreign crime wave”. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20070220zg.html
  7. Japan Times article: “MINISTRY MISSIVE WRECKS RECEPTION: MHLW asks hotels to enforce nonexistent law” (October 18, 2005), http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20051018zg.html and
  8. Japan Times article: “CREATING LAWS OUT OF THIN AIR: Revisions to hotel laws stretched by police to target foreigners” (March 8, 2005), both articles showing how the Japanese police use legal sleight-of-hand to convince hotels to target foreigners for visa and ID checks. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20050308zg.html
  9. Japan Times article: “‘GAIJIN CARD’ CHECKS SPREAD AS POLICE DEPUTIZE THE NATION” (November 13, 2007), showing how extralegal means are being used to expand the “visa dragnets” to people who are not Immigration Officers, or even police officers. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20071113zg.html
  10. Japan Times article, “IC You:  Bugging the Alien“, on the new IC Chip Gaijin Cards and national protests (May 19, 2009), how RFID-chipped ID cards (of which 24/7 carrying for Non-Japanese only is mandatory under criminal law) can be converted into remote tracking devices, for even better racial profiling as technology improves. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090519zg.html
  11. Japan Times article, “Summit Wicked This Way Comes“, on the Japanese Government’s bad habits brought out by the Hokkaido Toyako 2008 G8 Summit (April 22, 2008) – namely, a clampdown on the peaceful activities of Japan’s civil society, with a focus on targeting people who “look foreign”. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20080422zg.html
  12. Japan Times article, “Forecast:  Rough with ID checks mainly to the north“, focusing on a protest against Hokkaido Police’s egregious racial profiling during the G8 Summit, and how the police dodged media scrutiny and public accountability (July 1, 2008). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20080701ad.html
  13. Japan Times article, “Cops Crack Down with ‘I Pee’ Checks“, on the Japanese police stretching their authority to demand urine samples from Non-Japanese on the street without warrants (July 7, 2009). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090707ad.html
  14. Japan Times article, “PEDAL PUSHERS COP A LOAD ON YASUKUNI DORI: Japan’s low crime rate has many advantages, although harassment by bored cops certainly isn’t one of them” (June 20, 2002), demonstrating how arbitrarily Tokyo police will nab people at night ostensibly for “bicycle ownership checks”, but really for visa checks – if they are riding while “looking foreign”.

III. On Racism and Hate Speech in Japan

This section talks about other activities that are not state-sponsored or encouraged, but tolerated in society as “rational” or “reasonable” discrimination, or natural ascriptive social ordering.  These unfettered acts of discrimination towards minorities, decried by previous Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene as “deep and profound”, are examples of why we need a law against racial discrimination and hate speech in Japan.

1. OVERVIEWNGO Report Regarding the Rights of Non-Japanese Nationals, Minorities of Foreign Origins, and Refugees in Japan (33 pages).  Prepared for the 76th United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Japan, submitted to UNCERD February 2010.  Compiled by Solidarity with Migrants Japan.  Particularly germane to this information packet is Chapter 2 by Arudou Debito, entitled “Race and Nationality-Based Entrance Refusals at Private and Quasi-Public Establishments” (3 pages). http://www.debito.org/?p=6000

2. Japan Focus paper (14 pages):  “GAIJIN HANZAI MAGAZINE AND HATE SPEECH IN JAPAN:  The newfound power of Japan’s international residents” (March 20, 2007).  This academic paper talks about how a “Foreign Crime Magazine” deliberately distorted data (to the point of accusing Non-Japanese of criminal acts that were not actually crimes), and portrayed Chinese and other minorities as having criminality as part of their innate nature. http://www.japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/2386

3. Japan Times article, “NJ Suffrage and the Racist Element” (February 2, 2010), on xenophobic Japan Dietmember Hiranuma’s racist statements towards fellow Dietmember Renho (who has Taiwanese roots), and how it lays bare the lie of the xenophobic Rightists demanding people take Japanese citizenship if they want the right to vote in local elections – when it clearly makes no difference to them if they do. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100202ad.html

4. Japan Times article, “The Issue that dares not speak its name“, on the suppressed debate on racial discrimination in Japan (June 2, 2009), where the term “racial discrimination” itself is not part of the Japanese media’s vocabulary to describe even situations adjudged “racial discrimination” by Japanese courts. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090602ad.html

5. Japan Times article:  “HOW TO KILL A BILL:  Tottori’s Human Rights Ordinance is a case study in alarmism” (May 2, 2006), on how Japan’s first prefectural-level ordinance against discrimination was actually unpassed months later, due to a hue and cry over the apparent dangers of giving foreigners too many rights. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20060502zg.html

6. Academic Paper (Linguapax Asia, forthcoming) (14 pages):  “Propaganda in Japan’s Media:  Manufacturing Consent for National Goals at the Expense of Non-Japanese Residents”, on how government policy, political opportunism, and the Japanese media fomented a fictitious “Foreign Crime Wave” in the 2000s, and how that caused quantifiable social damage to Non-Japanese residents.

7. Japan Focus paper (2 pages): “JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hotspring Case and Discrimination Against ‘Foreigners’ in Japan” (November 2005), a very brief summary explaining Japan’s first case of racial discrimination that made to the Supreme Court (where it was rejected for consideration), and what it means in terms of Japan’s blind-eying of discrimination. http://japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/1743

8. Debito.org Website:  “Tokyo Edogawa-ku Liberal Democratic Party flyer, likens granting Permanent Residents the right to vote in local elections to an alien invasion”.  (February 24, 2010)  Seventeen local politicians of the formerly-ruling LDP lend their names against the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s liberalizing policy, illustrated with a UFO targeting the Japanese archipelago. http://www.debito.org/?p=6182

9. Debito.org Website:  “More anti-foreigner scare posters and publications, linking Permanent Resident suffrage bill to foreign crime and Chinese invasion”. (March 15, 2010)  Anonymous internet billeters are putting propaganda in home post boxes in Nagoya and Narita, and bookstores are selling books capitalizing on the fear by saying that granting NJ the vote will make Japan “disappear” by turning into a foreign country. http://www.debito.org/?p=6182

10. Debito.org Website:  Anti-foreign suffrage protests in Shibuya Nov 28 2009. The invective in flyers and banners: “Japan is in danger!” (December 4, 2009).  An overview and summary translation of the invective and arguments being put forth by the xenophobic Far-Right in public demonstrations. http://www.debito.org/?p=5353

IV. On the Disenfranchisement of the Non-Japanese communities in Japan

This section touches upon how Non-Japanese minorities are shut out of Japan’s debate arenas, public events, even court rooms, making them largely unable to stand up for themselves and assimilate on their own terms.

1. Trans Pacific Radio:  “RUMBLE AT THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS – A hearing on human rights is disrupted by right wingers” (September 10, 2007), demonstrating how the government will not stop hate speech from Right-wingers even when it willfully disrupts their official fact-finding meetings. http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/09/10/debito-rumble-at-moj/

2. Japan Times article, McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr James” campaign:  Why these stereotyping advertisements should be discontinued. (September 1, 2009), showing how McDonald’s, an otherwise racially-tolerant multinational corporation overseas, is able thanks to lax attitudes in Japan to stoop to racial stereotyping to sell product, moreover not engage in constructive public debate about the issues. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20090901ad.html

3. Japan Times article: “ABUSE, RACISM, LOST EVIDENCE DENY JUSTICE IN VALENTINE CASE: Nigerian’s ordeal shows that different judicial standards apply for foreigners in court” (August 14, 2007), where even foreigners’ testimony is overtly dismissed in court expressly because it is foreign. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20070814zg.html

4. Japan Times article: “TWISTED LEGAL LOGIC DEALS RIGHTS BLOW TO FOREIGNERS:  McGowan ruling has set a very dangerous precedent” (February 7, 2006), in that a store manager who barred an African-American customer entry, expressly because he dislikes black people, was exonerated in court on a semantic technicality. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20060207zg.html

5. Japan Times article: “SCHOOLS SINGLE OUT FOREIGN ROOTS: International kids suffer under archaic rules” (July 17, 2007). An article about the “Hair Police” in Japan’s schools, who force Non-Japanese and ethnically-diverse Japanese to dye their natural hair color black. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070717zg.html

6. Japan Times article: “A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD?: National Sports Festival bars gaijin, and amateur leagues follow suit” (Sept 30, 2003), on Japan’s National Sports Meets (kokutai), and how Japan’s amateur sports leagues refuse Non-Japanese residents’ participation: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20030930zg.html

7. Asahi Shimbun English-language POINT OF VIEW column, “IF CARTOON KIDS HAVE IT, WHY NOT FOREIGNERS?” (Dec 29, 2003).  A translation of my Nov 8 2003 Asahi Watashi no Shiten column, wondering why cartoon characters and wild sealions (see #9 below) are allowed to be registered as “residents” in Japan under the government’s jūminhyō Residency Certificate system, but not Non-Japanese. http://www.debito.org/asahi122903.jpg

8. Japan Times article, “FREEDOM OF SPEECH: ‘Tainted blood’ sees ‘foreign’ students barred from English contests” (Jan 6, 2004), with several odd, blood-based rules indicating a belief that foreign ancestry gives people an advantage in terms of language ability – even if the foreign ethnicity is not Anglophone! http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20040106zg.html

9. Japan Times article on “SEALING THE DEAL ON PUBLIC MEETINGS: Outdoor gatherings are wrapped in red tape.” (March 4, 2003), on the sealion “Tama-chan” issue and demonstrations over the issue of family registry exclusionism (see #7 above).  Why is it so difficult to raise public awareness about minority issues in Japan?  Because police grant permission to public gatherings. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20030304zg.html

V. On What Japan should do to face its multicultural future

This section offers suggestions on what Japan ought to be doing:  Engaging immigration, instead of retreating further into a fortress mentality and defaming those who wish to emigrate here.

1. Japan Focus paper:  “JAPAN’S COMING INTERNATIONALIZATION:  Can Japan assimilate its immigrants?” (January 12, 2006) http://www.japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/2078

2. Japan Times article, “A Level Playing Field for Immigrants” (December 1, 2009), offering policy proposals to the new DPJ ruling party on how to make Japan a more attractive place for immigration. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20091201ad.html

3. Japan Focus paper:  “JAPAN’S FUTURE AS AN INTERNATIONAL, MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY: From Migrants to Immigrants” (October 29, 2007) http://www.japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/2559

4. “Medical Care for Non-Japanese Residents of Japan: Let’s look at Japanese Society’s General ‘Bedside Manner’ First“, Journal of International Health Vol.23, No.1 2008, pgs 19-21. http://www.debito.org/journalintlhealth2008.pdf

VI. Japan and the United Nations

1. Academic paper (forthcoming, draft, 21 pages):  “Racial Discrimination in Japan:  Arguments made by the Japanese government to justify the status quo in defiance of United Nations Treaty”.  This paper points out the blind spot in both United Nations and the Japanese government, which continues to overlook the plight of immigrants (viewing them more as temporary migrant workers), and their ethnically-diverse Japanese children, even in their February 2010 UNCERD Review of Japan (please skip to pages 18-19 in the paper).

2. Japan Times article: “PULLING THE WOOL:  Japan’s pitch for the UN Human Rights Council was disingenuous at best” (November 7, 2006), talking about the disinformation the government was giving the UN in its successful bid to have a leadership post on the newfound HRC. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20061107zg.html

3. Japan Times article: “RIGHTING A WRONG: United Nations representative Doudou Diene’s trip to Japan has caused a stir” (June 27, 2006). http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20060627zg.html

VII. OTHER REPORTS FROM CONCERNED PARTIES (emails)

Topics:  Daycare center teaching “Little Black Sambo” to preschoolers despite requests from international parents to desist, Anonymous statement regarding professional working conditions in Japan for professional and expatriate women (issues of CEDAW), Discriminatory hiring practices at English-language schools (2 cases), Racial profiling at Narita Airport, Harassment of foreign customers by Japanese credit agencies, Hunger strikers at Ibaraki Detention Center, Politician scaremongering regarding a hypothetical  “foreign Arab prince with 50 kids claiming child tax allowance”

ENDS

Just heard: NGO FRANCA and I will be meeting with UN Special Rapporteur Jorge Bustamante March 23, Tokyo. Anything you want me to say or give him?

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Short entry for today.  I just heard yesterday from NGOs concerned with human rights in Japan that I will be part of a group meeting with Mr Jorge Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, on March 23 in Tokyo.

I will have twenty minutes to make a presentation regarding exclusions of NJ in Japan in violation of UN CERD treaty.

Is there anything you’d like me to say?  I already have some ideas here (see Chapter 2).  But I’m open to suggestions and feedback.  If there is anything you would like me to present him, please send me at debito@debito.org.  Please keep submissions concise, under 2 sides of A4 paper (meaning one sheet front and back) when formatted and printed.

To give you some idea of format, I’ve given presentations to UN Rapporteurs before, particularly Dr Doudou Diene back in 2005 and 2006.  The archive on that here.

I will of course make the case that the GOJ is being intransigent and unreflective of reality when asserts, again and again, that Japan does not need a law against racial discrimination.  And in violation of its international treaty promises.

The floor is open, everyone.  Thanks very much for your assistance.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Chair, NGO Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA)

ENDS

UN: Transcript of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session), Feb 24 & 25, Geneva. Point: Same GOJ session tactics as before.

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog. What follows is the full text of the GOJ’s meeting Feb 24-25, 2010, with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, something it faces for review every two years.

Media-digested highlights of this meeting already up on Debito.org here.

Although it was noteworthy for having 14 Japanese delegates from five different ministries (something the UN delegates remarked upon repeatedly), quite frankly, the 2010 session wasn’t much different from the previous two reviews.  In that:  The CERD Committee tells the GOJ to do something, and the GOJ gives reasons why things can’t change (or offers cosmetic changes as evidence that things are changing; it even cites numerous times the new Hatoyama Government as evidence of change, and as a reason why we can’t say anything conclusive yet about where human rights improvements will happen). The 2008 review was particularly laughable, as it said that Japan was making “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination“.  I guess an actual law against racial discrimination isn’t a conceivable measure.  As the GOJ delegates say below, it still isn’t.  But it is according to the CERD Committee below.

In sum, the biannual to-and-fro has become Grand Kabuki.  And while things got bogged down in the standard “minority” questions (Ainu, Ryukyuans, Burakumin, and Zainichis — all worthy causes in themselves, of course), very little time was spent on “Newcomer” minorities (sometimes rendered as “foreign migrants”), as in, the NJ (or former-NJ) immigrants who are now here long-term.  People like me, as in racially-diverse Japanese, aren’t seen as a minority yet, even though we very definitely are by any UN definition.  Plus, hardly any time was devoted at all to discussing the “Japanese Only” signs extant throughout Japan for many UN sessions now, the most simple and glaring violation of the CERD yet.

I haven’t the time to critique the whole session text below, but you can look at the 2008 session here (which I did critique) and get much the same idea.  I have put certain items of interest to Debito.org in boldface, and here are some pencil-dropping excerpted quotes:

UN:  I listened attentively to the [Japanese] head of delegation’s speech, and I can’t remember whether he actually used the concept of racism or racial discrimination as such in his speech. [NB: He does not.] It seems that this is something that the state in question prefers to avoid as a term.

UN: [T]he law punishes attacks on the honor, intimidation, instigation, provocation and violence committed against anyone. While that is what we want too. That is what we are seeking, to punish perpetrators of such crimes and offenses under article 4. What is missing is the racial motivation. Otherwise, the crime is punished in the law. So would the government not be interested in knowing what is the motivation behind such a crime? Should the racial motivation not be taken account of by the Japanese judges? […] I’m really wondering about whether you really want to exclude racial motivation of crimes from all of the Japanese criminal justice system.

UN: [S]hould I take that Japan is uncomfortable in the international sphere, and it would like to have as little interaction as possible with the rest of the world? […] [D]o you just want to trade but not to interact with other people? That is my worry taken the way you have been dealing with international instruments.

UN: I’ve been struck by the fact that, and this is what Mr. Thornberry called “technical points,” but it seems that these technical points are still unchanged. There has been no real change between 2001 and today.

GOJ:  With regard to the question of the establishment of a national human rights institution, […] there is no definite schedule in place.

GOJ: [T]o make a study for the possible punitive legislations for the dissemination of ideas of racial discrimination may unduly discourage legitimate discourse, […] we need to strike a balance between the effect of the punitive measures and the negative impact on freedom of expression. I don’t think that the situation in Japan right now has rampant dissemination of discriminatory ideas or incitement of discrimination. I don’t think that that warrants the study of such punitive measures right now. […]   And if the present circumstances in Japan cannot effectively suppress the act of discrimination under the existing legal system, I don’t think that the current situation is as such therefore I do not see any necessity for legislating a law in particular for racial discrimination. [NB:  The last sentence is practically verbatim from the 2008 session.]

GOJ:  For those persons who would like to acquire Japanese nationality, there is no fact that they are being urged to change their names. For those people who have acquired the Japanese nationality on their own will they are able to change their name. But, as for the characters that can be used for the name, for the native Japanese as well as the naturalized Japanese, in order not to raise any inconveniences for their social life, it may be necessary for them to choose the easy to read and write characters used in common and Japanese society.

UN: I think it would be difficult to say that the views of CERD and of the Japanese government have converged in any substantial degree since the time when we last considered the Japanese periodic report that initial report. […] I would on behalf of CERD respectively urge that our suggestions and recommendations for changes in Japanese law and practice to bring it more into line with the international norms in this matter.

Full text of the session follows.  Notable bits in boldface.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

//////////////////////////////////////////////

Transcription of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session)

Transcribed by Ralph Hosoki, Solidary with Migrants Japan

First Day[1]

(February 24, 2010 (15:00~18:00): Japanese government presentation and CERD questions)

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

For that reason and this will be followed by interventions of members of the committee in the order that they request the floor. After they have spoken which I expect which would take us to six o’clock this evening and even then I suspect there won’t be enough time but in the next morning that is tomorrow we will have the first round of responses from your side and for that you will have another hour and 15 minutes to respond to the questions and what I anticipate is that there will be so many questions that you will have to have clusters and probably you will have to have a working dinner, your delegation, going late into the evening in my experience, which I think you’re members of your delegation can look forward to and after that once again, members of the committee will ask a second round of questions, and then we will again give you time to respond whatever you can within the time that is available so I think we look forward to an extremely productive interactive dialogue and without further ado sir, I should like to give you the floor to introduce your report.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you, thank you Mr. Chairperson, in order to save time, I think I will omit the introduction of my delegation who came from Tokyo from various ministries. I think you have a list of our delegation at your hand. So I will start from the beginning, my sort of opening remarks.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, it’s great honor to be engaged in constructive dialogue today with the committee. I would like to extend opening remarks on behalf of the Japanese delegation at the beginning of the examination.

In September 2009, our Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama shortly after he took office, addressed the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly, and advocated the concept of “Yuuai” or fraternity as Japan’s new principle for dealing with domestic and diplomatic issues. This principle is a way of thinking that respects one’s own freedom and individual dignity while also respecting the freedom and individual dignity of others. The government of Japan will implement this convention based on this principle.

Furthermore Prime Minister Hatoyama in January this year, made a policy speech at the Diet under the main theme of protecting people’s lives. The Prime Minister stated as follows, “In order to prevent individuals from becoming isolated, and to create an environment in which everyone, the young, women, elderly, and those challenged by disabilities, can use their talents to play a full part in society with a sense of purpose and pride. We will work to obtain an accurate understanding of the employment situation and work to rectify the systems and practices that currently act as barriers.”

Japan believes that all human rights and fundamental freedoms are universal values and our legitimate concerns of the international community. It is with this belief that Japan is actively engaged in efforts to protect and promote human rights with the attitude of dialogue and cooperation.  As part as part of such efforts in August of 2008, Japan compiled and submitted to the committee the third to sixth periodic reports on Japan’s achievement in efforts with regard to human rights guaranteed by ICERD. In addition to the periodic reports, we made maximum effort in compiling and submitting answers to the list of issues to the committee.

The ICERD is the main mechanism for dealing with racial discrimination and all other forms of discrimination. And the universal implementation of the convention is important for creating a society without racial discrimination. It is needless to say that after ratification of international conventions, it is important to see to what extent the rights stipulated in them are protected and promoted by each state party. In this respect, we are glad to have the opportunity to be examined by the committee through which we can review the status of Japan’s implementation of the convention from an international standpoint, and reflect the findings in our diplomatic policies.  We are looking forward to listening to various views from the members of the committee in order to improve the human rights situation in Japan.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, I would like to take this opportunity to explain some of the major steps the government of Japan has taken in relation to the convention. First, Japan is working actively to establish comprehensive policies for the respecting of the human rights of the Ainu people. Following the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, the Japanese Diet, our Parliament, unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the recognition of the Ainu people as an indigenous people in June 2008. In response to this resolution, the government of Japan recognized the Ainu people as an indigenous people who live in the Northern part of the Japanese islands, especially in Hokkaido, and established the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons on Policies for the Ainu People with a representative of the Ainu people participating as a member. The panel members visited regions where many Ainu people reside and exchanged views with Ainu people. In 2009 the panel compiled a report and submitted it to the government of Japan. In this report, the panel expressed its views that the government of Japan should listened sincerely to the opinions of the Ainu people and make efforts to establish Ainu policy reflecting the situations of Japan as well as the Ainu people. This view is based on the recognition that Ainu people are an indigenous people and the government of Japan has a strong responsibility for the rehabilitation of their culture. The report identified three basic principles on implementing the Ainu related policies. That is one, respect for the Ainu people’s identities; Two, respect for diverse cultures and ethnic harmony; and three, nationwide implementation of Ainu related policy. The report also made recommendations on concrete policy measures including promoting education and public awareness about the history and culture of the Ainu. Constructing parks as a symbolic space for ethnic harmony and promoting the Ainu culture including the Ainu language.  Furthermore, the report advised the Government of Japan to conduct research on the living conditions of the Ainu people outside of Hokkaido and to implement measures for improving their living conditions throughout Japan. In August 2009, the government of Japan established the Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department to develop an all encompassing Ainu policy. The first director of this department Mr. Akiyama is sitting next to me. And in December 2009, decided to set up the meeting for promotion of the Ainu policy with the participation of representatives of the Ainu people. The first session of the meeting took place last month followed by the first working group next month, and that meetings are scheduled to be held regularly. The government of Japan will materialize policies and also follow up on the implementation of policy.  Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, Prime Minister Hatoyama in his policy speech at the Diet in October last year, committed “to promote culture of diversity to enable everyone to live with dignity by respecting the history and culture of the Ainu people who are indigenous to Japan.” In this direction, the government of Japan will create an environment which will enable the Ainu people to be proud of their identities and inherit their culture.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, secondly, let me explain our effort to promote human rights education and enlightenment. The government of Japan believes that everyone is entitled to human rights, should correctly understand other people’s human rights and respect each other. Under this belief, the government of Japan place importance on human rights education and enlightenment. In December 2000, the government of Japan enacted the Act for Promotion of Human Rights Education and Encouragement which led to the formation of the Basic Plan for Promotion of Human Rights Education and Encouragement in March 2002. According to the basic plan, the human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice expand and strengthen awareness raising activities to disseminate and enhance the idea of respect for human rights. Various activities are conducted by the organs, with a view to fostering human rights awareness as appropriate in age of globalization for eliminating prejudice and discrimination against foreigners as well as for promoting at an attitude of tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, religions, lifestyles, and customs of different origins. Human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice also have been endeavoring to protect human rights through other activities such as human rights counseling, investigation, and the disposition of human rights infringement cases. In particular, in April 2004, the government of Japan fully revised the regulations of human rights infringement incidents treatment to ensure quick, flexible, and appropriate enforcement of investigation and relief activities. Based on this revision, when the human rights organs recognize the fact of human rights abuse case, including acts of racial discrimination, they commence relief activities immediately and carry out the necessary investigation in cooperation with the administrative organs concerned. If it becomes clear as a result of the investigation, that human rights abuse including acts of racial discrimination has occurred, human rights organs take various steps to relieve individual victims. For instance, they admonish and order the perpetrator to stop such acts of racial discrimination, and request that those parties authorized to substantially respond to the case, take necessary measures for the relief of the victims and prevention of reoccurrence.

The human rights organs also endeavor to prevent reoccurrence of act of racial discrimination, by educating the persons concerned with regard to respect for human rights. Furthermore, from the perspective of remedying human rights issues, Japan is currently working on studies aimed at the establishment of a national human rights institution which independent of the government would deal with human rights infringements and remedy the situation as quickly as possible. The Human Rights Protection Bill which the government of Japan submitted to the Diet in 2002, provided that Human Rights Commission to be independent of the government take measures to remedy human rights infringements in a simple, quick, and flexible matter. However, the bill did not pass due to the dissolution of the House of Representatives in October 2003. Therefore, currently a new bill on a new human rights remedy system is under review under this new government of Japan.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, I would like to avail myself on this occasion to announce Japan’s new initiatives with regard to refugee related policies. As part of its effort to make international contribution and provide humanitarian assistance, the government of Japan decided to start a pilot resettlement program and admit Myanmarnese refugees staying in the ____ Camp in Thailand.  More specifically, Japan will admit 30 people once a year, for three consecutive years from this year. That means in total approximately 90 people. For this purpose, three weeks ago, we dispatched a mission to the camp to interview candidate refugees. Japan is proud that it will become the first Asian country to introduce a resettlement program. Japan will make the most effort in order to live up to the expectations from the international community. The government of Japan in cooperation with relevant organizations and NGOs will provide refugees substantial support for resettlement such as guidance for adjusting to Japanese society, Japanese language training, and improvement consultation and job referral. Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, Japan, on the basis of that spirit declared in the Constitution and the preamble of the convention disallow any discrimination against race and ethnicity, and continue to make tireless efforts to improve the human rights situation in Japan. The Japanese delegation is ready to most sincerely provide answers on any matters of concern you may have during this important examination. So it’s my hope that we will have constructive discussions. Thank you very much Mr. Chairperson.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you sir. Sir, would you like to give the floor to other members of his delegation at this stage or would you prefer to do that later? I thank you for your introduction and this gives us more time for the committee members to pose questions and I give the floor now to our distinguished rapporteur Mr. Thornberry.

Mr. Thornberry

Thank you Mr. Chairman, and again I would like to thank the delegation, the head of delegation very warmly for opening address and for the report and responding so promptly to the questions submitted by this rapporteur. It is a great privilege for me to act as country rapporteur on this occasion. This is the second occasion in which Japan has reported to this committee, and the first was in 2001 when I had just joined the committee. You ratified in 1995, you have not or not yet accepted the optional or____optional declaration in relation to the individual communications procedure of the committee nor indeed as I understand to the amendments to article 8. Both of which procedures I think in our previous meeting we commended or the article 14 procedure and the amendments to article 8. Nevertheless, you’ve consolidated many issues in your succinct report, and we are very grateful for that.

If I may start with perhaps a number of rather technical matters relating to the convention and the surrounding framework of human rights. 53 out of 173 states parties have accepted the individual communications procedure, and I note also that Japan has not yet accepted the optional protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights so it doesn’t engage with that system, but colleagues would commend article 14 to you as well as other procedures because it gets to the heart of issues about racial discrimination. Looking at your spectrum of human rights commitments there are in fact a number of cases in which instruments relevant to our convention perhaps would engage your further reflection, notably ILO Convention 111 on discrimination in employment, ILO Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples, and the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education. All of these are related in one way or the other to the issues that CERD deals with so it might be interesting for you to reflect upon widening the circle of human rights commitments. I also note that you didn’t ratify the Genocide Convention of 1948, but that you have I think accepted the statute of the International Criminal Court which is interesting because of course, part of the jurisdiction, the substantive jurisdiction of the statute is precisely the crime of genocide. Of course the decision to accede or not to accede to a particular convention is a sovereign prerogative and we respect that, but certainly, some of the conventions I’ve referred to do serve as benchmarks of good practice and can in fact be very very helpful I think for a state in elaborating its policy, and I’ve only singled out those which are relevant to the issue of racial discrimination, and they also enable the state to engage with certain supervision systems which again can be I think a positive experience.

Before passing on from this review, the general situation, CERD and other relevant conventions, I would like to recall one historical very positive fact and that was Japan’s pioneering effort in the time of the League of Nations to try to insert a provision in the League system on the equality of nations and peoples, and following that the world had to wait until the United Nations Charter before we had the major reflection of the principle of nondiscrimination; in this case on the grounds of race, sex, language, or religion, and our convention and all other conventions stem from that important architectural aspect of the human rights program.

If I may take some very specific matters on the report, supplemented by your questions, the report and your responses contain many statistics including figures disaggregated by citizenship, nationality, but paragraph 4 of the report says that ethnic breakdown for Japan is not readily available, Japan does not conduct population surveys from an ethnic viewpoint. I must say this has caused the rapporteur some heartache in the sense of trying to get a grip on relevant figures. For example, in relation to Koreans, you say that 600,000 approximately, that’s just round up those numbers, foreigners who are Koreans; 400,000 of which are special permanent residents, but there is also a figure of some 320,000 naturalizations that I have come across, and in recent years up to 2008, so we are actually talking about a million, something roughly around a million Koreans and Korean descent. The committee often asks for statistics; we understand the difficulties that states may have for various reasons including reasons to do with privacy and anonymity and so on, not wanting to pigeonhole people in certain ethnic categories, but it can be tremendously helpful I think and also in many cases necessary to get a grasp of the situation by understanding its dimensions and if an ethnic question can’t be asked in a direct way in a census, we often encourage states to find creative ways around this, including things like use of languages we recommended to other states from time to time; social surveys, etc., and a number of other methods that are…this is essentially designed not simply to help the committee – that’s not the point – but to help the state, I think to understand the dimensions of a particular question, and enable them to focus their policy more appropriately.

Your response to question 1 regarding people of Okinawa and Dowa Burakumin, simply recalls that they are Japanese nationals under the law, but of course that is a legal position and doesn’t directly respond to a question on statistics. I mean all countries have some provision or other on equality before the law, but this does not prevent statistics, ethnic or otherwise, being offered preferably on the basis of self definition. I would simply say that identity in this world is a more complex notion than perhaps than nationality in the legal sense – nationality or citizenship. On some of the key issues that are of interest to the committee and we had extensive NGO information and other information. We don’t for example have information on Okinawan people, because you reference that case equally be equality before the law. So the question of visibility of minorities arises significantly in Japan, and we don’t have information on ethnic minorities who have Japanese citizenship. We have information on foreigners of various kinds which you have kindly provided. But we don’t really have adequate information to make our own judgments on ethnic minorities with Japanese citizenship. We always have in some form or other a data question which we put to states and many different approaches to addressing this question are possible.

The second issue, rather technical one on the place of the convention in the law of Japan and the prohibition of racial discrimination, we have noted and it’s still the case that there is no general law in Japan prohibiting racial discrimination, and Japan has not regarded it as necessary to adopt specific legislation to outlaw racial discrimination, and the citation in defense of this position is article 14 of the Constitution whereby it talks about equality before the law and no discrimination on grounds of race, creed, sex, social status, or family origin. If I may just make a few brief points on this. In the first place, I think the list of grounds relevant to this convention in your constitution is narrower, and it doesn’t…we have five grounds, and it doesn’t cover them, of course there may be overlaps between the grounds – that is a possibility – but nevertheless, I think…it seems the Constitution is a more restrictive list than the convention.

The second, I’m not absolutely sure from responses and information we’ve received generally about the systematic application of this convention to private conduct in the situation of Japan. The convention directs itself in addition obviously to activities of the state, the state authorities and state organs, it directs itself to the activities of persons, groups, and organizations, and is a convention based on public life, which is more than the public administration of the state. We found some cases against actions against private persons they seem in some cases unsuccessful, but a comment would be welcome on this. I mean most cases, I would say these days, most states do not have direct discriminatory provisions it’s often the activities of private persons that the committee is dealt with as engaging responsibilities in gauging the obligations of the state under the convention. But following that, I’m also not absolutely clear if there is a prohibition on indirect discrimination in the law of Japan. The convention does not actually speak of indirect discrimination, it talks about intentional discrimination, discrimination in effect, but we have tended to translate that using contemporary language into the idea of indirect discrimination.

The other point on the question of how the convention reaches down into the law, it’s fairly clear that certain elements in the convention do require legislation. One may point out article 2, article 4, article 6 for example, clearly require legislation. Article 4 perhaps is in some ways the clearest. There’s an obligation to legislate under the convention in terms of racist speech and in terms of organizations. And we have elaborated that in general recommendation 15. We’ve talked about the convention in large measure being non-self executing; doesn’t apply to all of the convention, but certainly certain aspects of it do require legislation, so I would offer that thought for your reflection.

The other point is that there are cases we note where the convention has functioned as a criteria in the interpretation of laws, but only maybe as one criteria among others and perhaps that doesn’t have the same level of stability and predictability as a prospective law on racial discrimination. We would think it would guarantee a greater measure of legal certainty, and influence the conduct of potential perpetrators of racial discrimination and potential victims equally. And we note the various issues raised including today on the human rights protection bill; the one that lapsed and again we are always interested in current plans and projects to revive something similar, but I think…I can’t speak for the committee in advanced entirely, but the idea of a separate law I think does commend itself as very much the best way to implement the obligations under the convention.

On another technical matter, but one with a little more human content perhaps than I’ve been arguing so far. We asked you about one of the grounds of discrimination, namely the ground of descent, one of the five grounds for racial discrimination in article 1 with particular reference to people of the Dowa or Burakumin, and paragraph 8 of our previous observations made it clear that we felt that descent had its own meaning within the spectrum of grounds, and we’ve asked this again, and you’ve made a response – the response is a very interesting one. Since we asked this question last time, of course we’ve had General Recommendation number 29 on descent based discrimination.  Your response seems to claim that descent has no really separate meeting and is subsumed by the other grounds referred to in article 1. On the contrary the committee’s view is that while it is, we would say “in pari materia” of the same kind of substance as the others it does have a separate meaning and adds something to the convention. You also referred to the travaux préparatoires [the official record of a negotiation] of the convention and argued that descent was introduced to cover up confusions about the term national origin and so on, but there are also if one looks at the travaux just more widely, there are many references to caste and descent based systems in those travaux, particularly in the context of discussions on special measures.

My other maybe technical point is that, of course examination of the travaux of a treaty is important, but in the scheme of interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties for example, the travaux are supplementary means of interpretation, and the text and subsequent practice are the primary means of interpretation. We note with great interest that there was in fact for the Buraku Dowa program of special measures, for a long period of time, I think maybe 30 years, but they were terminated in 2002. But I think the groups concerned did hope that certain compensation as it were in legal terms in terms of policy and legislation would arise from that to make up for the termination of the special measures program. We issued a recommendation last August on special measures, and our view is that special measures may be terminated when sustainable equality has been achieved. So that they’ve done their job in a way that the community itself can sustain its position in society. But nevertheless, this again a rather technical discussion we welcome the embracing of the spirit of the convention as you put it in your response, and this is very welcome. But then again you have pointed that broad legal guarantees and so on and that legislation is there but of course legislation, as a committee says, always has to be implemented and not simply promulgated, so I think real action and continuing action in light of your good intentions would be much appreciated by the committee.

I would just ask one question perhaps, is there actually a government department or ministry that specifically addresses the Buraku question which is very specific to Japan but also has certain analogies with systems elsewhere, and if not special measures what kind of general measures, because we have quite a number of presentations to the effect that in the field of housing, education, gaps between Buraku and other members of the population of Japan have narrowed, but perhaps not necessarily sufficiently. I there are still issues to do with marriage and Buraku Lists, and also discriminatory acts of individuals and derogatory comments in the mass media, the Internet, and there are issues around housing and land values and so on, which I think do deserve attention. These are difficult matters and they reach down to the mores of society in a very deep sense, and the state clearly I think has good intentions, in this respect, there is also I think vigorous activity in civil society so that one hopes that action and cooperation will continue and intensify.

Sorry it is slightly back to technicalities again, but on the issue of reservations Japan has entered a reservation to articles 4a and 4b of the convention in the interest of freedom of expression. It does not cover article 4 paragraph c which is about public authorities and public institutions to promote or incite racial discrimination. So your reservation doesn’t in fact cover inflammatory statements by public officials, and NGOs have presented example of that. Article 4A and 4B are accepted only to the extent of the fulfillment of the obligations is compatible with the guarantee of the right to freedom of assembly, association, and expression and other rights in the Constitution of Japan.  That was the reservation.

If I can just unpack the reservation very briefly it doesn’t refer to international standards on freedom of expression and therefore one has a problem with many of these reservations and there are analogies elsewhere that they tie the reservation to the text of a constitution so that in inverse situations through the principle of international law, if the constitution changes does that imply that the international obligations change? Which should really be the other way. It is also potentially a very wide reservation because it not only talks about specified rights but also other unspecified rights in the Constitution. We’re not always clear why reservations are maintained; perhaps you might have more to say on this. We are certainly not going to enter a legal struggle with the state party though we can and have often commended states and recommended states to either reduce the scope of reservations or to remove them or at least examined very seriously about whether there is a continuing necessity to maintain the reservation and the reasons therefore.

Your legislation or understanding of your principles on hate speech is that you have a fairly tolerant approach in that most of the legal action as it were takes place in the field of defamation against private individuals, but perhaps class defamation or derogatory marks about a group as a whole might not be so easily caught within your present structure and also for example article 4 a deals with racist propaganda which deals with group; it is clearly expressed in article 4 as well as individual dimensions. And CERD has always regarded article 4 as a high importance in combating racial discrimination and an essential reinforcement for the educational value of an educational program or the educational value of other provisions against racial discrimination. Anyway we know that in international law freedom of expression is not unlimited and there are dangers to a society in what one might call a coarsening of public debate, and we have been presented with evidence of rather gross unpleasant statements directed against groups in Japan. I won’t go into that further perhaps colleagues might want to take that one through.

Turning to particular groups, and going slightly away from the technicalities on the Ainu we note the welcome change to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people and the support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Panel of Eminent Persons, the Consultation Forum, and the head of delegation has given us an update on these matters today. I suppose what we are interested in is the immediately proximate steps to be taken in conjunction with representatives of the Ainu to translate the good intentions of the government into practical programs, and indeed recognition as an indigenous group does bring with it in train quite a number of issues to do with identity, culture, language, land rights, sacred sites; there are a whole range and I’m sure you’re fully aware that any kind of legislative program based upon current standards of indigenous rights would in fact be a fairly extensive program, but anyway we note the positive change, welcome them greatly, and wish you well in your efforts to implement those good intentions.

On Okinawans, we note your response to question 18, and your reluctance to extend indigenous peoples term to natives of Okinawa. Okinawa, however has a fairly distinctive history – some of it I have to say from 1879 onwards was a very difficult history for the people of Okinawa who continue to be…live in a very heavily militarized part of Japan the with very small part of Japan’s total area but an enormous percentage of its military installations. They do seem to this member of this committee to be elements of a distinct culture, a distinct language, a distinct history, and certain prior presence in Okinawa, significant political and other presence before 1879.  We note that Okinawan language, or Ryukyu, is not taught in public education in Japan nor in Okinawa, and again you mention the people of Okinawa are Japanese nationals, but again that seems to me to be a citizenship question. We note the visit of the special rapporteur on racism a few years ago to Okinawa alleging lack of consultation and other matters; perhaps, if you have further comments on that it would be interesting to hear them. But I also note that UNESCO has regarded the Okinawan language as a distinct language so I think in this situation many countries would accept the Okinawans, an analogous group, either as an ethnic minority or an indigenous people.

On the Korean question I think I have puzzled over these statistics long enough and I think I’ve explained where I think I have arrived on this question. We did have a question about – we put this last time as well – on change of names in order to get naturalization and you have responded to that. The very interesting category in some ways this special permanent resident because they were people who actually lost Japanese nationality, and I have to say, when this happened in 1952, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations put it rather dramatically and said that with the withdrawal of citizenship, 500,000 foreign people suddenly appeared in Japan overnight. They are governed by the alien registration act.  I still puzzle over this term, special status; what exactly does it imply. It seems that there are significant differences between the special status residents from either of Korean or Chinese descent and the position of Japanese citizens. I mean, is there a special set of rules devoted to them that are different from Japanese citizens but also different from rules applying to other foreigners?

On the question of non-nationals generally, CERD has issued general recommendation number 30. All I can say on a whole is that on the whole we don’t see in the human rights field any great distinction should be made between nationals and foreigners.  There is room in international…we relate that out to international law generally. There is room often in the sphere of political rights to make those distinctions but otherwise human rights are human rights and I think as broad of framework as possible of human rights is always the most appropriate policy when we’re dealing with non-nationals. I mean, even in the political field we find that many countries permit non-nationals – give them a right rather – to vote in local elections. I’m not sure whether that applies either in the case of the special permanent residents in Japan or indeed, other non-citizens, non-nationals. On the Korean issue, Koreans in general, I’m not particularly confining myself to the special permanent residents, there is still the issue of names. I think your response…you said that the limited list of Japanese characters and everybody else has to comply with that but I think that’s the problem – that situations of people of Korean and Chinese ethnicity applying for naturalization are not the same as position of ethnic Japanese, and that’s a situation perhaps that one could have a look at.  I also noticed also in the figures, the fairly stable block in terms of numbers of special permanent residents, Korean, Chinese, and so on, who opt not to go for naturalization – not to become Japanese citizens, and I must say this rather set me puzzling a little bit as to why this is the case. First of all there is the names issue, but in a sense statistically and otherwise they appear if they do opt for Japanese citizenship, they open themselves a program of maybe effective assimilation in the education and other systems, because there’s not a great deal of recognition of ethnic minority rights in Japan as far as I can understand things, in terms of language, identity, culture, and so on. And it just occurred to me that if the gap, if there was a more open approach to the issue of ethnic minorities in Japan perhaps those who wish to conserve their identity might be more encouraged to opt for Japanese citizenship. It is simply a thought that I would actually commend for reflection.

The other point is on education. We had many presentations on education and in addition to issues like harassment of Korean and other non-ethnic Japanese in schools, there’s two things: Many Koreans and others opt for the, what I would call the regular school system or the public school system, it would be interesting to know in the public school system, how does the curriculum accommodate minorities and whether we are talking our Japanese citizens or noncitizens in terms of culture, history, background, language, and so on. What does it teach, the regular school system? In history classes for the regular school system, do they emphasize the contribution of various ethnicities to the construction of Japan? There is a double issue in the area of ethnic minorities here because the state on the one hand has the duty to equip the children with the ability to succeed in Japanese society, but secondly it also has the obligation to pay attention to history, culture, language, and it is a difficult balance to be attained. In addition to the public school system of course there are a number of non-accredited schools, in which it seems to us, and I can’t go through details now, that significant disadvantages compared with the public school system in terms of funding, in terms of treatment of taxation for taxation purposes, and other matters. So we would welcome perhaps a comment on this, and some of those schools do appear to be…particular reference is made to schools with people of Japanese descent from Brazil and Peru being in a particularly critical situation. There are all these many other issues related to minorities to do with identity, language, participation in national life, participation in decisions affecting them and so on, but in a way we haven’t been able to find, or haven’t been able to find out much about that because of the lack of data, this kind of screen of citizenship which really ends for all practical purposes ethnic data in the state party.

Two further issues very briefly. We have a lot of information on migrant woman. This is purely on the, I suppose, the noncitizen category. We welcome comment on that. Some hostile attitudes because of appearance, speech, dress. Particular criticism was referred to us on the revised immigration control act of 2009 and how it makes it rather difficult for women who are suffering domestic violence – they must continue as a spouse for more than six months, otherwise residence rights are revoked, and difficulties in accessing public services. Again, we don’t have real statistics on these matters and the committee doesn’t deal with gender issues directly, but when we feel there is an ethnic dimension to them using a principal we have called, and others too, “intersectionality,” we will deal with them. And finally, on this, there are some issues to do with refugee recognition, and in both cases there seem to be issues in and around lack of understanding, language questions, inhibiting access to services, and some kind of cultural disjuncture, lack of information in appropriate non-Japanese languages about procedures as mediated to the public, and so on. But anyway, we note positive remarks about a new program that you’ve made.

A couple of final comments, Chairman, and thank you for your indulgence, I think points have been made by a number of committees about a national human rights institution, and we note the positive approach expressed today by the head of delegation towards this development and welcome this very much. Your response actually, on this one was a rather interesting one because you said even in the response before today’s information, you would work towards a national human rights institution. You referred to a range of problems including Buraku, Ainu, Okinawa, and Korean issues which is I suppose precisely the issues that I’ve been trying to highlight today. So one hopes that the national human rights institution will enable a certain broadening of scope in relation to the human rights of these groups. I’m not aware, by the way, if there is any national plan in Japan or the plan of implementation of Durban Declaration in terms of elimination of racial discrimination, but I would be happy to be corrected on if that is incorrect.

Finally, a few brief comments, these are just my comments, the concluding observations are for the committee as a whole. On general social conditions, we have a certain focus on particular groups, but there’s also evidence of a widespread social difficulty in relations between Japanese and non-Japanese in both ethnic and citizenship terms. I mean, for example, we’ve had a number of evidences put forward to us about difficulties in discrimination in rights of access to places open to the public which is clearly referred to in article 5f of the convention. This is something that might be changed in due course by the adoption of the law, because I think the experience of many countries is that this kind of attitude, generalized attitude, can certainly be reduced in its scope and intensity by the passing a law which makes certain kinds of refusal of admission etc. clearly illegal and offers punishment or provides punishment for perpetrators and compensation for victims. It may also be that your approach towards hate speech is respectful of freedom of expression but perhaps over tolerant. CERD has mentioned many times that mass media and political class in general have special responsibilities here. And as I say in article 4 of the convention does require legislation, it is fairly clear in terms of racist discourse and racist organizations as to what must be done. I’ve made some suggestions on completing the network or widening the network of human rights obligation, including, I guess colleagues would also recommend adoption of our procedure under article 14.

Japan is a world-class economy and cultural power much admired for its goods for its cultural products and I think it’s important to match this prestige within arrangements in the human rights field because human rights arrangements influence the perception of countries. We construct our image of a society and people partly on that basis. And we’ve heard today much that is good and positive and perhaps there are more initiatives that will be referred to before the conclusion of our exchange, but I think a deepened engagement even on one’s first impression of reading the materials about Japan would be welcome and necessary, and I recall the very positive sentiments we’ve had related to us today by Prime Minister Hatoyama. So my observations are offered seriously and respectfully to the delegation to open a constructive dialogue with the state party even if the we do not eventually agree on all points, so again, many thanks for your information and apologies to the Chairman and my colleagues for overstaying, extending my speech, but I look forward to seeing what colleagues will comment, and I will try to draw the whole discussion to a brief conclusion at the end of tomorrow morning’s session. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Thornberry. I appreciate very much the depth of information and the hard work that has gone in preparing your comments which I think will be most useful for the state party’s delegation as well as to other members. I am going to give the floor now to the speakers who have requested the floor in the order that they requested, but before I do so, in view of the very importance of this debate, and the fact that we have so many speakers and I anticipate more, I would request, therefore, as much as possible to focus on questions, specific questions, related to the state party’s report. With that, I will give the floor now to the first speaker on my list, Mr. Amir followed by Mr. Avtonomov.

Mr. Amir

Thank you Chairman. I wish to thank and also congratulate the delegation from Japan chaired by the distinguished ambassador and also I wish to congratulate the head of the delegation and all the members of the delegation on the quality of their report which is before the committee members. I also thank Mr. Patrick Thornberry who has covered everything. He has covered all of the articles of the convention. Chairman, if I took it upon myself to take the floor during this debate, it was firstly and foremost to highlight by way of a comment, the exceptional nature and character of Japan. The first reforms did not just start now, the first reforms started at the end of the Second World War. They started when, as a wheat importer, Japan managed to build terraces across very volcanic terrain. We know that Japan is a country which has experienced earthquakes unfortunately, on a regular basis. But Japan has managed to master this natural phenomenon, to master this natural phenomenon from which all of the Japanese people could potentially suffer. And we know as well, quite to what extent Japan has been at the forefront of technical and scientific and academic advances and in all spheres on research, research which of course has increased productivity, production across all sectors of economic activity.

Chairman, Japan has also made major efforts on a human level because the former land owners in rural areas has seen their land nationalized and this land, this farming land, has gone directly to the peasants to the people who could not buy the land because they had no money and some of the production has gone back to the peasants themselves so that they could make sure they could feed their cattle and also feed themselves; and then of course there is also a share which was sent to the former land owners because they had to provide compensation for the nationalization of this land and this went on for several years before the Japanese peasants became real farmers in their own right, so having said that, Chairman, racial discrimination as seen in the report that we’ve read, and as seen as well in the alternative report which have been submitted by nongovernmental organizations is a matter of some concern. It’s not because we believe one side or another, that is not what I’m saying when I look at the reports. I’m concerned because I thinking of the history of Japan going back to what Mr. Thornberry said on the issue of education and the issue of training at all levels; mainly education and training for future generations. Japan has a certain past, it has a certain present, and it has a certain future, and it’s the future that today I would like to focus on.

And these are my thoughts as to your future. Discrimination against indigenous minorities living in Japan who have lived in Japan historically, the ancestral populations, in the 17th, 18th, 19th century, if we look at the history of Japan we saw that this populations as well as other indigenous peoples were quite simply discriminated against because of the vertical hierarchy of values. Let me look at the peoples which come from outside of Japan itself and here I am thinking in particular of Koreans and Chinese and Thai and Filipinos. Here I’m thinking about all the different minorities represented in Japan who have their own identity from their own origins. So there are these different indigenous minorities and then there’s also these minorities from outside. We see globalized discrimination which historically may have some raison d’être, may have some foundation, but history is now being transformed and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is raising issues to overturn history to establish these minorities in their full rights as enshrined in the convention, this international convention. Education, teaching, training well what programs do you have there? What do you teach young Japanese children today, apart from science and technology, of course? What else do you teach them? Do you teach history as part of your core curriculum in Japan – in particular, the history of your relationship with these minorities and also with your neighbors?

You asked me to be brief today, Chairman, given the number of experts who are to take the floor during this debate, so I decided to say, for example, we have the example of Australia with the Aborigines, we have the example of New Zealand, and how they work with their minorities. These parts of their population who are original inhabitants of the country, and these countries have apologized to these minorities, indigenous peoples who have historically been discriminated against and we should pay tribute to New Zealand for this; it is a matter of honor for them, we should pay tribute to Australia for the fact that they have officially presented their apologies to these minorities of their own cultural traditional identity. And in the United States as well we have the situation of Martin Luther King who has become a symbol of the fight against racial discrimination. Two centuries of slavery, while today we have Martin Luther King as a symbol, he is a symbol of freedom, freedom of the United States of America, freedom in their fight against racial discrimination. So it is a matter of honor for these countries such as New Zealand and the others I mentioned to say, “Yes, it’s true, it happened, it’s in the past, now it’s over.”

So education, education is a bridge, a bridge to bring together all the children in Japan, all the citizens of Japan, and the fact that you teach how to learn lessons from history that would limit all forms of racial discrimination in the treaty sense of the term, because it would teach unity, unity not based on identity, cultural ethnic identity, but social economic unity based on equal rights, and this kind of unity would give Japan greater resources to move forward towards further modernization to create Japan for tomorrow, you should make similar progress as you have made in science and technology in the development of your human resources in a very sensitive area which is that of research into human and social sciences to make sure that the discrimination that we have learned about in particular through the alternative reports will slow down and disappear so that Japan can once again be a cultural and multicultural model as well as an economic model and a political model and a humanitarian model. And I am sure that we will see great progress from Japan in this field of human rights. Thank you Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you for your intervention. Mr. Avtonomov, you have the floor, followed by Mr. Murillo Martinez.

Mr. Avtonomov

Thank you Chairman. Chairman, thank you for having given me the floor. I shall try to be as brief as possible but all the same before I start my comments I do wish to welcome the distinguished delegation from Japan; there are so many of you here, we do note that, we have an appreciation; it demonstrates your respect for the committee and demonstrates quite how important this dialogue is for you. And you know that this dialogue is really the most important part of our procedure for the examination of reports, it’s only through a dialogue that we can really identify the stance of a particular party to the convention. It’s only in this in this way we can really know what is happening in Japan, how matters are being settled to make sure that our recommendation are really targeted, they are concrete, and they are useful ones for you, And they’re not just general comments without the true knowledge of the country. And I’d also like to thank the distinguished country rapporteur Mr. Thornberry, as always, he has carried out an in-depth analysis, a broad ranging analysis of the situation in the country and of the report itself. Japan is a long way away from Europe so of course you have your specific country characteristics and it’s very important for us to learn more about this because our convention applies to all countries, but each country is different, and has its own characteristics, and so it is very important that this be underscored for us as members of the committee as the rapporteur has done. I would like to say that the report is highly informative. I was very interested indeed to read it and to read about the court decisions and so on contained in the report – not all countries provide such detailed information and in particular on the court decisions related to the fight against racism. All of this information is very useful indeed, so thank you. And it’s a very good thing that the report carries on from the initial and the second reports so there’s a clear progression here and we see here answers to specific comments made, so that’s very useful as well. Of course we are not always satisfied by the answers but they are there, that’s important. It is very important for us to see how the state is making progress, and I very much appreciate the introductory statement made by the distinguished ambassador. I have the greatest respect for all of the initiatives that you are implementing and your work with refugees, that new initiative from Japan, and the “Yuuai” concept as well that was mentioned and it was announced by the Prime Minister Hatoyama. I think these are very important initiatives; we see a new vision of Japan to cope with changing circumstances of the contemporary world and I think we need to take into account all of the information you have provided today when we analyze reports and prepare our concluding observations and recommendations. I’d like to thank you as well for your answers to the questions raised by the distinguished rapporteur, the questions, the list of issues that he sent prior to our meeting to the state party.

But having seen all this information, I do still have a few questions that I would like to put, and I won’t go into any detail right now because Mr. Thornberry has already covered most of the questions I had, I don’t need to go into any detail, but I do still have a few questions that I’d like to highlight. I have visited your wonderful country. I really do like your country, there’s a lot of things that we should learn from you I know, and I would say that we have special links I think between Russia and Japan, links that other countries might not have with your country, because there is a small Orthodox church in Japan; it was first founded by the Russian ministries in the beginning of the twentieth century, but it’s carried on, and it’s developed as a Japanese Orthodox church and so it has the Russian orthodox traditions and the Japanese culture as well, so it’s a very interesting example of cultural interaction, and I can see that our relationship is a very close one, and I hope that our peoples and our countries will become ever closer in the future.

Having said all that, I do have a few specific questions, and in particular on current developments in your country. Firstly, I draw your attention to the fact that there is a bill, a draft law on education, on ensuring education for children irrespective of their ethnic appurtenance. This is a draft law or bill which is currently being examined; it was initiated by the government before the parliaments now. I think it’s a very good initiative but all the same, I was wondering about the different ministers, who were saying that you should exclude the Koreans from the scope of this draft law given the diplomatic relations you have with North Korea. Well, the Koreans coming to study in Japan will be those who are resident in Japan; they won’t be those from outside. So I’d like to receive some further information from the distinguished delegation on this draft law, and to make sure that I have your reassurance that such discriminatory amendments will not be brought into the law, and irrespective of the relationship between the governments of Japan and North Korea here. I saw on the Internet, I think it was today, in the Asahi Shimbun, the editorial which criticized this kind of an approach to this draft, or this education bill. I understand a little bit of Japanese. I can speak a bit of Japanese and I can read a bit, so I was having a look at the newspaper website today. I can’t express myself that well in Japanese, I apologize for that, but I think I did pick up this issue, and Mr. Thornberry has raised the issue of the Koreans. I think that there is a long standing situation that some Koreans have remained foreigners; they have not acquired citizenship, and we can’t really understand that fully. If the Koreans have not taken on their citizenship of the Republic of Korea or of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, so South or North Korea, then can they then receive Japanese citizenship? I understand that sometimes they have decided, as Mr. Thornberry said, to do so, but what is stopping them from receiving citizenship now? So I’d like to ask the distinguished delegation what the situation is in citizenship laws in Japan on this matter. How can you acquire citizenship, are there any restrictions, limitations, are there any particular advantages for some or special fast-track procedures for some? I’d like to know about your laws on citizenship in the light of our convention, and sometimes there are traditions which are not in line with our convention – I’m not saying that’s the case with Japan – but I can’t really understand the situation fully here I’d like to note what legislation you have on citizenship in Japan which prevents these Koreans from receiving citizenship.

And Mr. Thornberry has already said that there are restrictions, there’s the different alphabet, and so on, so perhaps, there’s difficulties with the alphabet, I know that there are different alphabets, but there are the two different ways of writing; and what about Chinese language? They can read Japanese many of the same hieroglyphs are used; and so I’d like to understand what barriers there are for citizenship. I don’t know quite how to read all hieroglyphs, of course, but I do have to keep studying on this, but I think that it is something that is accessible to Koreans and to Chinese people living in Japan. So Chinese people live in Japan as well, and we know that there is a major part of Yokohama which is a Chinese district. It’s a real Chinese district, and I went there and I met with Chinese people, and I lived for some time in Ofuna City in Japan, and there are Chinese restaurants, and of course, there are Chinese people living and working for a long time in Japan, so why don’t we see this in the report? Does the Japanese government have a policy for Chinese people? Do they have special privileges? I don’t really see that reflected in the report, but I won’t go into any more detail on that right now.

And Mr. Thornberry mentioned these people living in Okinawa. They are from Ryukyu originally but now in Okinawa, and is there a position from the Japanese government on these people? I would be very grateful to receive further explanation on this situation. Is there a desire to recognize them as a distinct ethnicity, ethnic group, are there any particular measures for this ethnic group, for this group of persons; that are differences in culture and history, we know this. I won’t go into further detail now, you know the situation; there is linguistic and cultural issues. There was an independent state on those islands and so there is a certain culture and identity, so I would be very grateful indeed to the distinguished delegation to receive further explanation as to the state’s position on these parts of the population. I think it is very important indeed for us because they are in an indigenous people. I had a look at that in the report. I saw that the state party has moved away from using the word Utari to the Ainu to the name which they have decided they want to be called. That’s very important for us as a committee because it is very important for people to decide themselves what they want to call themselves. I think that is a basic right of any indigenous people to choose their own names, choose what they are called.

And then, my last question is on the Burakumin. We know that the Buraku people…we understand the position, well I know the position, let’s put it that way, I know the position of the state party, we’ve heard it, but all the same, in our convention we do talk about origins, and the Buraku are people of a certain family, and this is how they are defined, their origin is not just based on their social status. So I would be very grateful to the distinguished delegation for further explanation as to the situation with these people. I know that there is a long-standing tradition of family registration, so they register – people say well this is my family, this is where my family comes from, and everybody knows that in Japan, everybody knows where these Buraku people live, so if this information is accessible to third parties, that could be an issue. I’m not going to say whether this kind of family registration is right or not, but it could give rise to questions on whether all of this information should be shared or not – should this family registration be allowed or not, or with certain restrictions; this work is perhaps only just starting, but, maybe, of course every people has its own way of defining itself, and so it’s interesting to see further clarification on this, I’d be grateful indeed too, if you could give us more information on any work which might be underway to move on from this family-based registration or any other way in which you are creating the necessary conditions for the Burakumin be able to develop further, be further part of society.

Mr. Thornberry has already mentioned the special measures; we know that the special measures were in existence for 33 years, but I’d like to see more information about this. Did you achieve the objectives that you set when you introduced these special measures, and then what happened once these special measures were no longer in force. I won’t go into any more detail on this, you know that our committee adopted a general recommendation on special measures, but that was taken after you had done away with these special measures in Japan. But I’d like to know whether you achieved your objectives because we are concerned about special measures, so I’d like to receive further information to gain a deeper understanding of the issues. So thank you once again for all of your work, your introductory statements, your answers to the list of issues, thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you, Mr. Avtonomov. Obviously you’ve studied very hard and you are familiar with the issues, and I was pleased to hear also that you can speak a little Japanese. So anyway, distinguished members, I still have a long list of speakers, and being practical and giving equal opportunities to everybody, I would suggest you speak for eight minutes if possible. And of course, I won’t censor you, but I would like you to exercise self regulation rather than for me to interpose. I don’t wish to do so at all, so having said this, and this is a suggestion, I give the floor to Mr. Murillo Martinez, followed by Mr. Cali Tzay.

Mr. Martinez

Thank you Chairman, I will be brief. First of all, Chairman, I would like to join with other speakers, I would like to thank the distinguished delegation from Japan for their reports. This has been analyzed in detail by our rapporteur. Mr. Thornberry. Chairman, Japan certainly enjoys what I would call relative calm and tranquility. It’s true that there’s an awful lot of racial discrimination in the world; still, the committee has been very emphatic in highlighting, of course there is no country in the world that can escape from this phenomenon scourge of racism and intolerance. I listened attentively to the head of delegation’s speech, and I can’t remember whether he actually used the concept of racism or racial discrimination as such in his speech. [NB: He does not.] It seems that this is something that the state in question prefers to avoid as a term. There is a new government in Japan as we have heard. And recently, we’ve heard there is going to be a new vision adopted by this country. Perhaps the delegation could say a little bit about how this new view of your country is going to sort of tie in with the phenomena of racism – and I’m thinking particularly of the day to day life of the foreign population in your country, because we have heard that there are problems afflicting foreigners in your country.

For instance, the Koreans. It would also be useful to know a little bit more, and I’m thinking about this segment of the population. What is the impact of your educational policy? Do you have special support for instance, so that children from these groups or this population can be better integrated in the educational system in your country? And finally, Chairman, it would be useful if the Japanese delegation could say something about whether you have monitory mechanisms in your country monitoring the phenomena of racism and xenophobia in Japan. And I’m thinking here also of the Internet as well. Do you have any sort of observatory or monitoring center on racism and discrimination or any statistics that could give us a broader view of this phenomenon and how it has an impact on victims of racism and xenophobia? The rapporteur has referred to the human rights institution – again it would be useful to know how far you’re going in ensuring that this body is going to be in complete line with the Paris Principles. Thank you.

I thank you for your questions and your intervention. I give the floor to Mr. Cali Tzay, followed by Madame Dah.

Mr. Cali Tzay

Thank you Chairman. Thank you for giving me the floor. I would like to thank the distinguished delegation from Japan, and of course thank the head for the presentation. I would join with others in the committee for thanking Mr. Thornberry for this excellent in-depth report. I’ve also heard a lot from Mr. Avtonomov and learned a lot from him. I think, thanks to his intervention, he’s given me a better picture of Japanese culture as well. And to some extent, that’s taken words out of my mouth. I only have, therefore, one or two questions to make. First of all, I’d like to thank the delegation for your answers, the information you’ve provided in the report. I had many questions on the Ainu in your country, but you’ve provided a great deal of information in your report and also in your oral presentation this afternoon, and I’d like to thank you for that information on the Ainu. I would like to echo what’s been said by Mr. Thornberry on the Ainu, and I would like therefore to know a little bit more about the situation of the Ainu and how they are treated in Japan. In this Eminent Persons Panel, could you tell me first of all how many people are members of this panel related to the Ainu, and also, I’d like to quote here in English now, “An environment which will enable the Ainu people to be proud of their identity and inherit their culture.” Does this mean that the Ainu are not proud of their own identity?

And NGOs have also told us that a high level official made racist statements against immigrants, something which has whipped up discriminatory feelings in the country targeting certain individuals in the Japanese population. What measures therefore is Japan taking in line with article 2(1) indent a, and also article 4 of our convention? We welcome the government’s initiative to have a school quota covered for all children who are of school age, but as an expert, I’m worried about the attitude of some ministers; they seem to want to exclude students of Korean descent. Even today, in the editorial of one of the most renowned newspapers, it actually criticizes the attitude of the ministers and asks the Japanese government to look at this again, because this is something that is violating the right of education for these children. According to information we’ve got, only the Ainu have been recognized as an indigenous people, and naturally we’d like to congratulate you on that, and welcome that. The Okinawa as I understand it are also an indigenous peoples. As we’ve heard from Mr. Thornberry, in some areas there is discrimination and historic persecution of these peoples. I would therefore respectfully ask whether they can be recognized as an indigenous people – in other words, the Okinawa, they have their own history, their own culture, their own language. Precisely because of that, they were the subject of persecution. Many thanks Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you Mr. Cali Tzay. I give the floor to Madame Dah, followed by Mr. De Gouttes.

Ms. Dah

Thank you Chairman. I would also like to welcome the Japanese delegation. I’d like to congratulate them on their presentation. Allow me also to thank Mr. Thornberry, really thank him for this very exhaustive analysis, and very precise analysis that he’s conducted, and as is his custom it is a brilliant analysis. Mr. Thornberry, I think, hasn’t left us really much to say because he has covered the ground so well, but I will try just to raise a few points if I may, Chairman. Also Chair, you have of course limited our speaking time, but I will do my best. It’s the second time that we’ve had Japan before this committee. They have come along this time with the very dense and informative report. It does raise a number of questions. The rapporteur has raised some issues already. We have others, but I don’t think we will have an opportunity to exhaust the subject. Since this is the second report from Japan it gave me an opportunity to re-read the initial report and also look at the analytical report and reports following that presentation.

I’ve been struck by the fact that, and this is what Mr. Thornberry called “technical points,” but it seems that these technical points are still unchanged. There has been no real change between 2001 and today. Now, when international commitments are made particularly in the area of human rights, it’s always difficult to change things and change them quickly, particularly when reservations have been entered, reservations entered to substantive provisions. I agree entirely with Mr. Thornberry as regards to the reservations in his particular analysis on the reservations and indeed his thinking on article 14. Having said that, I do think change can be brought about very cautiously if necessary but something that will make this convention and this convention is very dear to us and very close to our hearts, and which Japan also has studied very carefully before it acceded to this convention in 1995. We still believe that you would be in a position to remove that reservation. Japan has told us that you are still engaged in thinking on this particular point, and let’s hope that this thinking will eventually lead to a withdrawal of the reservation.

Chairman, in similar vein, there is no change in the ethnic composition in Japan and indeed as regards the definition of racial discrimination in this report. I’d like if I may to refer to some points, really just points for reflection as opposed to questions as such. First of all, on the Ainu, the Ainu people. They have been recognized as an indigenous people. You have started to take specific measures for the Ainu people. I have to agree with Mr. Thornberry that perhaps this needs to be taken further. We need to take these initiatives further so that you are also in conformity with all the international engagements and commitments you have signed up to, including the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, the ILO Convention, and to make these operational, and as regards the rights of these peoples. I know that in Japan, you give a lot of leeway to your municipalities, but I think for such important issues, it’s terribly important that the central government, the central state takes commitments and lays down very clear and targeted guidelines.

On the Buraku, this refers…thinking back to this notion of descent, and it is certainly something that sparked our thoughts in my mind. I certainly don’t need to tell my colleagues or the Japanese delegation how and why this definition came in, but I have to say that as regards to the Buraku, I have been struck by just how similar their situation is to those who are affected by the caste situation in Africa. And that really is something that struck me. We must get beyond any form of stigma, stigmatization, and it’s up to the government to do this. Now, I understand that this takes a great deal of time and energy; it boils down to education, it boils down to consciousness raising. But I do believe that the Japanese government is able to do this work in other areas, and I think they can certainly do more in this particular area.

Let me now turn to everything that has to do with the foreigners in and outside Japan. Mr. Thornberry has talked about immigration problems, other colleagues have talked about the place of foreigners. Again, it struck me that increasingly Japan is opening up to the world. It’s increasingly an open country, of course is no longer an island, it’s many islands, but increasingly it is opening up to the world, you’re getting people from Brazil from the other Asian countries, and from other regions of the world as well. And some of these people choose to remain in your country, and that is something that is, if you like, pushing Japan to a certain position in the sense that they need to take initiatives to ensure these foreigners are integrated, at the same time, their specific identities are preserved and protected. Brazil, for instance, is apparently the third source of immigration in Japan. I was struck by that figure. I have some doubts on some measures that have been taken. We’ve heard about these attempts to change names. I mean, it may well be that there is going to be an African wave suddenly coming in to Japan. I just wonder what you are going to do when it comes to changing African names, if that wave ever arrives in Japan. We’ve heard that some people have been forced to change names, and here I’m being the devil’s advocate. I take the example of somebody coming from say my region. If, for instance, somebody came from my region to Japan and they had to change their names, they would be doubly frustrated in terms of their cultural identity, and let me explain what I mean by that. We have been colonized; now, I don’t like talking about colonization because at the end of the day colonization was a failure of humanity, but I feel duty bound to talk about colonization in certain conditions. Our family names were changed…if, for instance, an African hand to change their name or their surname was simply struck out, deleted, I see this as a double humiliation, and it’s certainly not something that’s desirable. Therefore, I hope that Japan will be in a position to review its policy in this area. And should something like this happen in the future, by then you would have found a satisfactory solution, satisfactory tool.

Chairman, I would conclude with the amendment to article 8 of our convention [on the establishment of a Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, with oversight powers]. I’m concerned at the fact that Japan to date has not yet accepted that amendment. Japan, and we’ve heard this so many times this afternoon, Japan is a great country, it is a great power indeed, and a major contributor to the United Nations. If there are any questions of principle which prevent your government from accepting this, you can certainly tell us why. If it is not a question of principle, well, the ideal for the committee would be for Japan to accept the amendment to article 8 to the convention, thereby ensuring funding for…it would not be a problem for the United Nations nor would it be a problem therefore for members of the committee. But Chairman, before I conclude, I would like to thank the Japanese delegation for their presentation, and I am keen and impatient to hear answers to my questions. Many thanks.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Madame Dah. I give the floor to Mr. De Gouttes, followed by Mr. Huang.

Mr. De Gouttes

Thank you Chairman. I’d like to thank the Japanese delegation, a very numerous delegation, I think 20 or so have come along this afternoon. I’d also like to thank the head of the delegation for his oral presentation. I naturally like to thank Mr. Thornberry for his very in-depth and very precise analysis. Again, we are used to that form of analysis; it was an extremely useful presentation from Mr. Thornberry as well. We’re all well aware of the wealth and also the complexity of the historical and cultural and sociological situation of this great country that is Japan. The sixth report which often refers back to the initial report which is was examined in 2001. The sixth report I have to say still leaves some issues pending. There is an awful lot of information that we’ve got. A lot of information I have to say has come from the NGOs who are here present in the room as well.

The first question on the different groups of the population in Japan. Para. 4 of your report talks about the Ainu living in Hokkaido. You say that we’re talking about 23,782. The head of delegation said this afternoon, that the government has now recognized the Ainu as an indigenous people in conformity with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, following on from a resolution of the Japanese Diet. This is extremely positive and we acknowledge that. But, and this is my question, what about the other groups? What about the other minorities? This question was addressed as part of the compilation drawn up for that UPR, the universal periodic review, and also in the conclusions of the UPR, the universal periodic review, in the conclusions of 2008. This is also an issue that was examined very closely by the special rapporteur, the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism. This was back in 2005. The special rapporteur highlighted the situation of three minorities. The Ainu, but also the Buraku, and the inhabitants of Okinawa. Alongside these minorities, the special rapporteur also indicated the situation of the descendants of the former colonies, in other words Chinese, Koreans, and also the situation of foreigners and migrants in Japan from Asia or coming from other regions of the world.

Now, the question we all have in our minds, is what measures are being taken to protect the rights of other groups other than the Ainu? Because we’ve already heard there is recognition there. What is being done to protect their language, education, schooling, their identity more broadly? As to the Buraku community, the summary document – this again was part and parcel of the UPR – it highlights the need to protect this Buraku community. It said there, and this is what we have in this report, 3 million, 3 million peoples, in other words, one of the main minorities in Japan, descending from so-called pariah communities, if you like, a hangover from the feudal period. Because apparently, in the past, this population had professions linked to death or impurity, and this is a past that still weighs heavily, a taboo, although there has been an abolition of the caste since the 19th century. Mr. Thornberry quite rightly recall, and Madame Dah also pointed out that our convention in its first article, talks about descent-based discrimination and that our general recommendation 29 of 2002 has to do with descent-based discrimination or related to castes. We would like to know, therefore, what definition does the government intend to give of the Buraku people. How do you intend to define them? How do you intend to put an end to the discrimination of the Buraku? And also I would extend that comment to the Okinawan. So that’s my first question.

My second question is more specific. It has to do with the application of article 4 of the convention, and your penal legislation which criminalizes acts of racism. When I look at this report, it seems that there hasn’t been much by way of progress since the 2001 report. No new laws, no new legislation against racial discrimination, and in this jury system that you have in Japan, the convention therefore is not directly applicable. And this was said just now there has been no withdrawal of the reservation to article 4a and b. You also have problems with this idea of freedom of expression. This is something that is also highlighted in your report. Let me just recall however that the committee had clearly stated in its preceding concluding observations and in general recommendation 15 that provisions of article 4 are imperative and that there is compatibility between the prohibition of the dissemination of any idea based on racism and discriminatory…that is compatible still with freedom of expression.

My final question has to do with the implementation of article 6 of the convention – legal prosecutions when there is racial discrimination acts. 66 and 68 of your report give us some information on this. 71 also talks about complaints that have been dealt with by the Ministry of Justice human rights body. But out of the 12 rulings mentioned from 61 to 68, most of those were overturned, most of the complaints were rejected. Does this not illustrate therefore that you need to have more awareness, you need to better mobilize the police authorities, and broadly, the legal community on racism? I will leave my other questions to one side. Most of them have already been covered. They have to do with the importance of creating a national human rights institution which is independent in conformity with the so-called Paris Principles. Also the question of harassment of Korean children in Japanese schools, and also problems of non-nationals – foreigners – and according to information that we’ve received from NGOs, the fact that the Supreme Court refuses to accept the role of mediators for foreigners who had been specialized in settling and sorting out family disputes or other forms of disputes between foreigners, so I just wonder why the Supreme Court has rejected this idea of having a mediator for foreigners. I would like to thank the delegation, thank you Chairman, and again, I appreciate and look forward to the answers from the Japanese delegation. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you, Mr. De Gouttes. I give the floor now to Mr. Huang, followed by Mr. Diaconu.

Mr. Huang

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I express my warm welcome to the big Japanese delegation headed by the ambassador in charge of human rights and humanitarian affairs of the Foreign Ministry to have a dialogue with this committee. I would like to join my colleagues to commend his Excellency, Mr. Ambassador’s comprehensive remarks, and also thank Mr. Thornberry for his length, in-depth analysis and comments. Japan has acceded to the major international human rights instruments. We appreciate the Japanese government submit to the committee its third to sixth periodical reports which provide a good condition for our constructive discussion and dialogue. Mr. Chairman Japan is a very interesting Asian state. We all know that Japan is an industrialized developed country and is an economic power in the world. But the Japanese people keep living in their own way. In the Oriental people’s eyes, Japan is a quite westernized Asian country, but it is not difficult to see that there are a lot of good traditions have been well preserved and inherited by the Japanese people. Comparatively speaking, the Japanese national is not a complicated nationality like other Asian countries. In Japan, there are not many minorities and indigenous people, except as just mentioned, the Ainu; not like China. We have 55 national minorities. The major national minorities in Japan are the immigrants from the other countries, especially from the neighboring Asian countries and regions.

Mr. Chairman, beside what the other colleagues already mentioned, I would like to say something about this strengthening of education on the elimination of racial discrimination to the people carried out by the state party government according to article 4 and 7 of the convention of ICERD so that to protect the basic and the legal rights of the minorities as mentioned above. Mr. Chairman, it is my understanding, these kind of education through all means possible at least includes two aspects. That is, to make acknowledgment of the convention among the people of the state party; and through the education, to enhance the awareness of the state party’s citizens to fully implement the convention to act according to the regulations set by the convention. It is not deniable fact that there is racial discrimination phenomena still exists in the Japanese society. For instance, the attitude towards the people of the former colony origin is known to all, that due to historical reasons of the Second World War, there were a certain amount of people now live in Japan who came from the Japanese former colonies – mainly from the Korean peninsula and Taiwan and other Asian countries; although, most of these people have now become the Japanese citizens after 1952. Half a century has already passed. We found that these people, including their second and third generations, are still in difficulties to be integrated into the Japanese society. Some Japanese nationals, especially among some elder Japanese, still have the self feeling of superiority over these people of former colonies. These people are not equally treated as Japanese nationals, but being discriminated in the field of employment, education, and social life. I should say this is really unfair to these people because since these people resided in Japan, they have constantly made great contributions to Japan in its industrializing process. They should enjoy the same rights as of the other Japanese nationals. So I suggest that the state party government should enact a basic and comprehensive law to eliminate societal and administrative and legal discrimination against these people.

As stated in article 4 of the convention, I quote part of it. “States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination.” I noticed that Japan has made reservations on 4a and 4b, but I think that the concept and the spirit of this article should be accepted by the state party.

Mr. Chairman, another aspect, I should mention is that there were some reports about discriminatory incitements made by the Japanese officials. Some Japanese politicians and public officials and those Japanese extreme rightists, they use some occasions, stigmatize the foreign migrants as I quote, “a bunch of thieves” or “troublemakers” or “criminal factors” etc. Really, I was shocked when I heard this kind of ___ came out from the mouth of the public officials. This irresponsible nonsenses incite hatred of the Japanese national toward the foreign migrants. I believe that it is really necessary for the Japanese government to engage special human rights seminars for these politicians and public officials according to the article 4 of the convention. As cited in article 4 (this should be article 7), “States Parties undertake to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information, with a view to combating prejudices which lead to racial discrimination and to promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and racial or ethnical groups.” By doing so, to eradicate their feeling of hatred and xenophobia toward the foreign migrants in Japan, and to get rid of their deep rooted colonial thinking.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, once again, I highly comment the great efforts made by the Japanese government in the field of promotion of human rights, especially of the elimination of racial discrimination in Japan; include also, as just now as the ambassador mentioned, the Japanese government has already made some new measurement to eliminate the racial discrimination. So thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you for your comments, Mr. Huang. I give the floor now to Mr. Diaconu, followed by Mr. Peter.

Mr. Diaconu

Thank you Chairman. Chairman, the presentation of the report by the delegation of Japan and the presentation of his considerations by Mr. Thornberry have opened up the path for a very substantive in-depth dialogue with delegation and it is my feeling that such a dialogue is absolutely vital in the light of the report and in the light of the discussions we have been having up until now. We really do need this dialogue. Now, to turn to the indigenous populations…We see that the Ainu are recognized as an indigenous people, but there are still some problems that remain there. Nongovernmental resources tell us that there are still problems regarding access of the Ainu people to fishing in the coastal areas where formerly they had access. But other persons would have the right to access these fishing areas in the coastal waters, so I’d like to have some comments on this from the delegation please.

Then, on the Ryukyu Okinawan population. If this population speaks a different language whether it be a dialect or not, it needs to identify what is the difference between Japanese and this language. If they have distinctive traits, why are they not also recognized as being an indigenous people?

Then the Buraku. We have taken careful note of your position that this is not a problem of race. But our convention also refers to descent because the concept of the sentence exists in our convention and we can’t say that this is a mistake. We can’t say that this is a mistake to have this concept in the convention and there is no reservation to article 1 of the convention on the issue of descendance being contained in the convention. So 40 years later you can’t come to us and say it’s wrong. I don’t think that would be the right approach for us in this discussion, especially as regarding the Buraku, I have read in some document that there is still a system of family registration, so registration by family. Does this system still exist? Because this system really was used to demonstrate that these people are part of a caste, a separate caste, so that they would not be given access to certain roles and jobs in the civil service and public authority, and measures are taken until 2002, special measures were taken for the Buraku until 2002. Why were these special measures terminated? Are they not in the same situation? Are they not still in the same situation? Are they up to the same social, economic, cultural level as other Japanese citizens? We don’t see answers for these questions.

Then, another question I have for the delegation is on the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples. This declaration was adopted in 2007. What is the position of Japan on this declaration on indigenous peoples? And on Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization on indigenous peoples, does Japan intend to ratify Convention 169 of the ILO?

And now, on the Koreans. Well, there are many things to say on this subject. It would seem as though they have been resident in Japan since the Second World War; they had Japanese citizenship but they lost it following the application of the treaty, the San Francisco Treaty in 1952. Some of them have maintained citizenship, have kept Korean citizenship, some have not. These people have lived in Japan for all this time, they remain in Japan and they have no intention to leave Japan, so is it not possible for these Koreans individuals to receive Japanese citizenship that they lost during the war?

The present report refers us to the former report saying that this would be possible. So have these people, Koreans, asked to regain their Japanese citizenship or have they not asked to regain it? And if they have requested the return of their citizenship, what is the Japanese authority’s position on this? I am surprised that there are schools which deal with North Korean and those that deal with South Korean. I am reminded of the situation in the past with German schools which were East German or West German schools. Well, it seems strange to me. What happens at these Korean schools? We’re told that a measure has been adopted recognizing the studies carried out in Korean schools as being equivalent with those studies carried out in other schools so that these children can go to university. But then we read later on that it’s only the Tokyo School which has studies which are recognized as being equivalent. So what happens to the other Korean schools in other towns and cities around Japan? I don’t think it is acceptable that you allow such schools to exist, but then to say to the students, the pupils, you don’t have access to university. Yes, the state can establish curricula, criteria to make sure that the level of teaching is the same as in Japanese schools, but if the state doesn’t do this well then, it’s my feeling that it is absolutely unacceptable to punish the pupils at these schools, these pupils and students who come from a certain ethnic group.

We’ve taken note of the racist attacks against Korean schoolchildren and also the measures that the state has taken to counter such attacks and acts of aggression to prevent them and to punish them. This has to be done, you have to ensure better protection of these schools, but I am surprised that the poor relations between Japan and North Korea, and the missiles which were set off by North Korea have had an impact on the Korean children. What are they guilty of? What are these Korean children guilty of? So here, I really think is an issue of education for the general population. So that what happens in international relations is not reflected in everyday life of the population and in particular, the everyday life of the children studying at these schools.

We also read in the documents we have that the Korean language schools are not exempt from some taxes, whilst others schools are exempt from these taxes, including the international schools. Well that’s discrimination then. Why, is this distinction drawn? We need to have some answers on that subject too.

Then on refugees. We are told in the report that refugees are accepted from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and the ambassador has told us that refugees from Myanmar are also accepted.  But what is the situation regarding refugees from other countries? Why not accept refugees from other countries? The 1951 Convention should be applied by Japan. Is it only applied for Asian countries? I don’t think so. So, I would like to see some answers on this from the delegation.

I’m coming to article 4, and of course I’d like to endorse what my colleagues have said. If we read about the Japanese reservation, well we see that Japan should ____ article 4 to the extent that this does not run counter to the obligations in its constitution. Well what does this mean? To what extent is article 4 actually applied in Japan? I’ve read through the report and the second report as well the former report, and I see that the law punishes attacks on the honor, intimidation, instigation, provocation and violence committed against anyone. While that is what we want too. That is what we are seeking, to punish perpetrators of such crimes and offenses under article 4. What is missing is the racial motivation. Otherwise, the crime is punished in the law. So would the government not be interested in knowing what is the motivation behind such a crime? Should the racial motivation not be taken account of by the Japanese judges? I’m really raising questions here. I’m really wondering about whether you really want to exclude racial motivation of crimes from all of the Japanese criminal justice system. I am wondering about this and I’ve really like to have some clarification on the subject. And if we note in the new report, the cases which have been examined by the judicial system in Japan, that judges have referred to racial discrimination in their judgments. They have referred to the racial connotations of such and such an act so that judges seem to feel the need to take account of racial discrimination as a motivation. Why does the state, the government itself, not want to take account of it when they are confronted with it in real life? So these are the immediate questions that I wanted to raise, and this is referred to others.

The report says that the Chinese have now come to Japan are more numerous than the Korean inhabitants. But we haven’t received much information about the Chinese population in this report. Are there Chinese language schools? What is their status if they exist? And the Chinese population, are they from Taiwan, are they from continental China, do they have separate schools? I’d like to know what their position is and what their position will be in the future in your country. But having of said all that, I would like to add to what Mr. Huang said, what is vital in a country is generalized education of the population to promote the elimination of racial discrimination. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Diaconu, for your intervention, and I give the floor now to Mr. Peter, followed by Mr. Ewomsan.

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I would also like to join my colleagues in welcoming the large delegation of Japan headed by his Excellency the ambassador in charge of human rights and humanitarian affairs. I would also like to thank most sincerely our colleague Professor Thornberry for his very thorough analysis of the report by Japan. Mr. Chairman, I would look at four issues very briefly. Some of which have been touched by my colleagues and also some of which have been touched by his Excellency the ambassador. The first issue, Mr. Chairman, relates to existence of a human rights commission in Japan. Mr. Chairman, as Madame Dah has said, Japan is a model in the world. It is looked at like other developed countries, and therefore it is a little bit unsettling to note that to date, we are speaking of not having a human rights commission in that great country, an institution where people can go for redress. We are told that the 2003 draft was shelved. There was a draft of 2005, but to date five years later, we do not have anything in place. Now, my worries, Mr. Chairman, is that whenever, from my reading, whenever there is a new change in government in Japan, there are also fundamental changes, changes relating to human rights, changes relating to military bases, and so on. Now, my question is that when can we expect, do we have a timeframe for when we can expect a human rights commission before another change comes in and then we don’t have a human rights commission. So I really want to hear a view and taking into account the importance of Japan in the world. And we thought that as a model, giving example, it should not only talk, but also walk the talk as well. Mr. Chairman, that is my first point.

My second point Mr. Chairman, leads to Japan and the international instruments relating to human rights. Let me say this and I may be wrong, I stand to be corrected by the delegation. Among the developed countries, Japan seems to have signed, ratified, and acceded to the least, and I am underlining the word, to the least international instruments if you combine conventions and protocols relating to human rights. Just take quick count gives a total of 13 conventions and protocols to which Japan…protocols and the conventions on human rights to which Japan is not a party to. And even where it is signed, there are several reservations including the reservation relating to our own convention, reservations relating to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, reservations relating to the rights of the child, and so on. And of course sometimes, Mr. Chairman, and again here I wish to be corrected if I’m wrong, that even the pattern of signing and ratifying international instruments by Japan is also sometimes contradictory. Contradictory in the sense that if you look at the report, Mr. Chairman, on page 18 paragraph 56, it’s about abolition of apartheid. It says, apartheid does not exist in Japan, such a policy is prohibited in paragraph 1 of article 14 of the Constitution, and then it goes on. And yet, if you look at the ratifications, Japan has not signed, ratified, or not acceded to the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Japan has also not acceded to the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports and so on. So I think there is a contradiction between what is there in municipal law and the international pattern of Japan when it comes to ratifications. Now Mr. Chairman, my question here is that should I take that Japan is uncomfortable in the international sphere, and it would like to have as little interaction as possible with the rest of the world? Is that the picture that Japan would like to give us? Mr. Chairman, I’m saying that because that is the tendency in international interactions. But we see a different Japan when it comes to trade. Japan seems to be trading with everybody. Mr. Chairman, and Japanese products are household names. You talk of Sony, Honda, Toshiba, Suzuki, Yamaha, and so on. In my own country, every motorcycle whatever, where ever it is made is called a Honda, even if it is made in America, they would still call it a Honda. So, my question is, Japan do you just want to trade but not to interact with other people? That is my worry taken the way you have been dealing with international instruments.

Mr. Chairman, my third issue relates to application of international law in Japan. Mr. Chairman, Japan follows the monist school as opposed to the dualist school in appreciation of international law. That means that once Japan signs and ratifies an international legal instrument, that instrument becomes part and parcel of Japanese municipal law straightforward without the need of special legislation for domestication. Now, Mr. Chairman, what is strange is that individuals in Japan are not allowed to invoke these international instruments when they are pursuing their rights. It is alleged that ratification of instrument is a state-state issue which does not concern the individual. Now, Mr. Chairman I wanted to get a comment from the delegation, headed by his Excellency the ambassador, why can’t individuals invoke international legal instruments to which Japan is a party, in pursuit of their rights.

Mr. Chairman, the last point relates to article 14 of ICERD. Now that we don’t have a human rights commission in Japan, the way for the individual is narrow. I just wanted to know from the delegation are there any initiatives within the government sectors in Japan to make the necessary declaration relating to article 14 of ICERD so that individuals can have access to the committee, or should I take this to be a no-go-area when it comes to the government of Japan? Mr. Chairman, those were my worries which I believe the delegation will assist me in clearing them, but again I really want to take this opportunity to thank the delegation of Japan, headed by his Excellency the ambassador, for coming for this dialogue. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you very much for your intervention, and I give the floor now to Mr. Ewomsan, followed by Mr. Lindgren.

Mr. Ewomsan

Thank you Chairman. Similar to my colleagues, I’d like to welcome and congratulate the Japanese delegation on their report. I am not usually long, but I have to say that I very much admire Japan as a country. Japan is a country that has managed to make so much progress in the area of its economic development without losing its soul. And I know that Japan also is able to make the very most of its culture, the strength of its culture and its traditions. Having said that, I am very much struck by the consequences of social stratification and how that has an impact on the Buraku. Therefore, it would be useful to have more information on the situation of this community. I’d also like to know about the measures that the government intends to take to improve the situation of these people and to eradicate any discrimination against them. I’d like to congratulate Mr. Thornberry for his excellent analysis and I share his thinking. I’ve also taken note of what Madame Dah had to say as well. Let me say that I have a great deal of admiration for Japan, and it would be excellent if Africa could learn from such an example. I’ve tried myself to write some haiku, proof of my admiration for Japan, in fact haiku in my language means a, like a bean, the seed of a bean, literally. And of course if I went to Japan myself I would probably have to change my name. I wouldn’t be as lucky as Madame Dah, because I already have two first names which are apparently Japanese. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Ewomsan, and I give the floor now to Mr. Lindgren.

Mr. Lindgren

Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, as you are aware, I am here today thanks to the strike of Lufthansa, which did not allow me to go back to my country. It is nothing against Japan, it’s because I had to go back to Brazil. So I am telling this in order to explain to the Japanese delegation that I really hesitated to ask for the floor because I don’t consider myself well prepared to comment in detail your report. I can easily join my colleagues and thank you for the report and for the amount of people that you brought to present their report and to defend its content and give explanations to us to the doubts that we have. But I decided after all to take the floor for two reasons.

One is a point of clarification, which was motivated by the statements by some colleagues including Mrs. Dah, because it’s true that the report refers several times to the large number of Brazilians who are immigrants in Japan. And I would like to tell to my colleagues because they probably are not aware of this, that in the end of the 19th century, Brazil received millions of Japanese immigrants and they were, and they are, a fundamental part of the Brazilian population. They are all Brazilians, they were essential for the establishment of the Brazilian nationality, and whatever positive development we have, we owe to a certain extent to the contribution of the Japanese. In the second half of the 20th century, mostly in the years in the 70s and from the 80s on, Brazil came into a crisis and then there was the reverse movement. The Brazilians went to Japan in large numbers and they are still in large numbers. They do not constitute what some countries call, even Mr. Thornberry and I myself don’t like the term, but they do not constitute a visible minority. They look very much like this delegation physically, so certainly they speak a kind of Japanese that by now must be at best laughable; Portuguese Brazilian slang and the very limited contribution from the original Japanese of their ancestors. They are as close to the original Japanese as I am myself Lindgren am to the Swede who was at the origin of my name, so I have nothing to do with them. When the Brazilians went to Japan at first, and because of the excellent opportunities they found there in the factories of Japan, even if their wages were smaller than those of the Japanese, they never complained, they lived quite well. They suffered – and this is not a complaint Mr. Ambassador because this is being resolved already, is already resolved by consular relations between our countries – but when there was this crisis which led several enterprises to dismiss people, of course the Brazilians as foreigners were among those who were the first to lose their jobs, and then there were planes that were chartered by Japan to send them back to Brazil. It was something strange, but please I repeat, it is no complaint, I do not envisage this from the point of view of racism, nothing like this. This is just an explanation that I wanted to give to my colleagues.

Now, I come to the point that I really would like to stress to the Japanese delegation, even though I didn’t prepare myself well for this interview with you. I remember that for the…since I first attended a meeting of this committee, it was eight years ago, there was a special session on the question of the pariahs, or the_____and so on. It was soon after the Durban conference, and there we learned, I learned for the first time about the Buraku people. And I noticed even though superficially, I noticed that your report speak about, for instance the Hokkaido Ainu people. It speaks about foreigners from other areas, Korean residents in Japan, and so on. But what I learned about the Buraku people in front of my eyes, is specifically from the Mission to Japan by the special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, at that time it was Mr. Doudou Diene in 2006. I would like you to explain to us what are these Buraku people? Why are there remnants of discrimination against these people? Even what is told here in this report by Mr. Doudou Diene is not so terrible, so you can speak freely about it so that we understand from the source instead of learning it from other people. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you Mr. Lindgren. It is our good fortune in a way that you were unable to return to your country so you have lightened our debate this afternoon and I certainly personally am very happy to see you here although it may be inconvenient for you and one trusts that you will be homeward bound in the not too distant future. And of course, I presume you will return thereafter. You won’t just say goodbye to us for good. Well, distinguished members and distinguished members of the delegation of Japan I have exhausted the list of speakers, and I think somebody else wants again to…Mr. Diaconu, did you want to say something?

Mr. Diaconu

No, no.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

We have exhausted the list of speakers for this afternoon. As you can see, it was a very rich debate on rather very rich commentary by members of the committee. So have about 10 minutes left, and we always like to utilize our time well, so if you would feel like responding to some of the questions now, I would request you to end your intervention about two or three minutes before the hour so we can conclude the session in an orderly way. You have the floor sir.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you Mr. Chairperson. First of all, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the special rapporteur, Mr. or Thornberry, and other members of the committee. We received very inside depth and very positive comments from you. I appreciate first of all. And then of course we received your comments or your questions which I think we can answer after we sort of sort out question. Since I listened, there are many questions sort of shared by most members, so I think we can sort of sort out, and then make questions, I mean, the answer is clear, tomorrow, by our delegation members. And then, especially I was impressed by comment made by Mr. Thornberry referring to Japan’s first contribution to this question of discrimination against racism when the League of Nations was established, while we sort of___try to include the principle of nondiscrimination into the League of Nations’ major principles. But later on, this was achieved by the United Nations. That was exactly what I was thinking when coming back to this room in the Palais de Wilson, of course. Thank you very much.

That reminded us furthermore, one more time, that we, Japanese, have to be a sort of vanguard or sort of a forerunner to implement this convention and further sort of cooperate with you and other nations to promote the principles and spirit of this convention. As you saw our delegation, big numbers, we have 14 members from five different ministries and agencies. Despite of the difficulty, for example I faced yesterday, of the some labor difficulties by Air France and Lufthansa and so forth, you see our delegation composed of those young, prominent, future public servants of Japan. Since we experienced the almost first ever real change of government or change of government in 50 years time, now, so the questions relating to the…some aspect of your questions are indeed sincere sort of review on the new government. So some points, I think our delegation can give you a little bit more detailed explanation tomorrow. What kind of consideration, what kind of review are now taking place – although some of them are not yet materialized by parliamentary actions. But we are doing. So on specific issues of personal question, I think my deputy, Ms. Shino, can answer in broad sense. May I?

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Yes.

Ms. Shino (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Mr. Chairman and rapporteur, Mr. Thornberry, and the distinguished members of the committee, thank you very much for listening to us and giving us valuable comments. Since the remaining time is not that long, I would like to give you my overview comments. If I do remember correctly, from Mr. Thornberry, Madame Dah, as well as Mr. Peter, there was a question about what is the situation right now on the individual communication. Now, as Mr. Thornberry has pointed out, not only article 14 of the ICERD but also the ___ ICCPR, we have not adopted the amendment for the individual communications, and we have not yet accepted at all the individual communications for the other instruments, either. Now, at the present status of our study is, as the members have said, the individual communications, in order to ensure the effect implementation of the instruments, we are aware that this may be a significant means to ensure ____, but in order to accept it, and in order to make it a useful system for Japan, in what form would be the best form and way to accept this, there are many things that we need to further consider. So on this point, as Ambassador Ueda has mentioned, under the new government, this has been given a priority. We have been instructed from the new government that we should give priority to this issue. So we are making a very sincere study into this matter right now. But as of yet we have not arrived at a conclusion. That is the present status. So that was very briefly my comment on the individual communications. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The typical sort of situation now in Japan. So, tomorrow I think we can explain to you more in detail on some of your questions. So today, I repeat our sincere appreciation to those, all those members of the committee for such a constructive, very constructive exchange of views. I thank you very much Mr. Chairperson.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

It thank you Mr. Ambassador Ueda, and this actually shows how important we consider your country, and the interest that your country has aroused in members of our committee, which also reflects the interest of the international community. So with this, distinguished members, I will now conclude this meeting, and tomorrow morning we will take up Japan at 10 o’clock sharp.

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Second Day

(February 25, 2010 (10:00~13:00): Japanese government response and interactive dialogue session)

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

…Of course it would be better to answer questions raised by members one by one but because of the time constraints I think I will ask my delegation members to answer in sort of a compiled way to similar questions from several members of the committee. So first, I think I would like to ask my colleague Mr. Akiyama, the director of the newly established department for Ainu policy, to answer on the questions of the Ainu people. I will ask my colleague Mr. Akiyama to answer. Thank you.

Mr. Akiyama (Japanese government delegation; Cabinet Secretariat)

Good morning distinguished members of the committee as I have been kindly introduced, my name is Mr. Akiyama. I’m the counselor of the comprehensive Ainu policy department. There has been a major interest shown by the distinguished members and I am truly appreciative of that. Let me now provide answers to your questions. First of all, to Madame Dah as well as Mr. Diaconu, for your questions. For the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the international covenants to do with the indigenous peoples in line with these incidents it is necessary to reinforce as well as expand the rights of the Ainu people. At the Diet of June of 2008 unanimously the resolution on the recognition of the Ainu people as an indigenous people has been adopted. And with the Ainu, the member also participating under the chief cabinet secretary, the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons on policies for the Ainu people was established. And in July the report of the panel was submitted to the government and in August of last year,_____the government to take the initiative in administering the Ainu policy under the cabinet secretariat, the new office was established which is the Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department. And in a comprehensive manner Ainu policies are being promoted and coordination and adjustments are being made with the other ministries. Based upon the report being submitted in July 2009 by the advisory panel on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to which we have participated in the consensus adoption, it is taken for granted that it should be based upon the Constitution which is the supreme law for Japan and also___as to the significance of the general international guideline for the policy of the indigenous peoples and also taking into consideration article 2 paragraph 2 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. We are able to take special measures in order to guarantee the equal human rights for certain people. In December of last year we have newly established the Council for the Promotion of the Ainu Policy headed by the chief cabinet secretary and we are trying to proceed with the Ainu policy in a comprehensive manner.

Let me now turn to the question from Mr. Cali Tzay. How will we be able to ensure the adequate participation of the Ainu people in the policy making? And there was also a question with regard to the proactive involvement by the central government in this issue as I mentioned earlier, the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons of Ainu policy which was established in July 2008, this advisory panel is made up of seven persons, and out of those seven, the Ainu representative was one. And in this advisory panel, the panel members made on site visits for three times into the areas where Ainu people are living in large numbers. And we also listen to the voices of Ainu people so that we could come up with discussions on how to promote Ainu policy in the future. Therefore, in this way, in the policy forming process, the government has paid much attention to the involvement of Ainu people themselves and last August the comprehensive Ainu policy______ cabinet and in December as well we set up the meeting for the promotion of Ainu policy which was headed by the chief cabinet secretary last December. Therefore, in this way, the government, the central government is taking the initiative in order to plan and promote Ainu policies. There were 14 members that participated in this meeting for the promotion of Ainu policies. Out of those 15, Ainu who represented themselves were numbered five. Mr. Abe vice president of Hokkaido Ainu Association who is observing the session is one of those representatives and members. And aside from those five Ainu members, the government of Hokkaido, the mayor of Sapporo, and the local community leaders and also experts on Constitution and experts on history in addition to Professor Yozo Yokota, a former member of the working group on indigenous populations, and Mr. ____ Ando, a former member of the UN Human Rights Committee. And this meeting for the promotion of Ainu people, the first meeting was organized and held last month. And in the following month we are going to start the working group under this meeting and in this working group we are going to look into the possibility of setting up a park as the ethnic harmony space and we are also considering the possibility of conducting a survey with regard to the living conditions of Ainu people.

And this survey at this point in time, the policies relating to the improvement of living standards of Ainu people are only located and practice in Hokkaido but the central government is trying to expand these measures nationwide, therefore aside from Hokkaido, how many Ainu people are located in what places, and what are their living conditions; we have not, we have no clear information about such status and situations. Therefore, as a preconditioned of the nationwide implementation of the policies we have to look into the status of those people living outside of Hokkaido, but in conducting such a survey there is going to be an issue relating to the protection of privacy, therefore with regard to the methodology, as I mentioned earlier, at this working group of the meeting of the promotion of Hokkaido (?) is going to take care of that. And Mr. Abe, who I mentioned, is also involved in this working group. Therefore, we try to listen to the views and voices of the Ainu people in conducting a national survey.

Therefore, in this way as far as the central government is concerned, it is always sensitive to listening to the views of the Ainu people. And on top of that, the government is already going to encourage Ainu people to be proud of their own identity and encourage them to be the bearers of their own culture, and such vision and concept has been captured in the address that was given by the Prime Minister at the Diet.

Next, I would like to turn to the points that were made by Mr. Cali Tzay and Mr. ____that Ainu people may not be proud of their identity and what may be the reason why the name has been changed from Utari to Ainu. On these points, Japan as the government policy modernization has been preceded with…as a consequence there has been serious damages had been imposed on the Ainu culture which has led to the discrimination as well as prejudice over the Ainu people that may have prevented the Ainu people to choose the life with pride as Ainu. Even though the intrinsic culture may have been significantly damaged, without losing the identity and thereby reviving its identity and maintaining such identity is still present in Japan as Ainu people is something very meaningful and the United Nations Declaration says that diversity in culture should be respected as common asset for mankind. We are fairly aware that we should take due note of that aspect. So government would like to create society whereby the Ainu people will be able to say with pride that they are of Ainu.

Next, the name for the Ainu people has been changed from Utari to Ainu. Let me explain the process. The Association of Ainu People which is the Hokkaido Ainu Association, in the past because of the discrimination as well as prejudice over Ainu people they did not use the name of Ainu. Instead, they used the name Utari which meant the compatriots in Ainu language. But in April last year, the name of the association was changed from Hokkaido Utari Association to Hokkaido Ainu Association. So it indicates, I believe, that social environment is gradually changing whereby the people of Ainu are able to say with pride that they are of Ainu.

The next question is from Mr. Diaconu, the access to fisheries is limited for Ainu people and that was the question, and we would like have an update on this question, and in a related question any special measures or any measures relating to the utilization of the land and natural resources for Ainu people. Ainu’s access to fisheries is limited, while it is not limited for other people, there was such a statement or a comment was made by the member.  But I think this comment was relating to catching of salmon in inland waters, but the catching of salmon in the inland waters is prohibited against all people based on the domestic law. So it is not the fact that it is only limited to…it is not the fact that the access is only limited for Ainu people.

Now with regard to the capture of salmon in the inland waters by Ainu people in so far____part of a traditional ritual,_______ special admission is applied in some rivers and with regard to the utilization of land as well as natural resources as part of the comprehensive measures for the rehabilitation of Ainu culture, in the advisory panel there was an extensive discussion involving Ainu people themselves. The traditional living environments for Ainu people which is now being regenerated at two locations in Hokkaido and that there are some actions taken in order to gather resources in nature in the national parks and also some exchange programs are also carried out according to the report by the advisory panel that says that because of the lack of sufficient utilization of the land and natural resources there are some hindrance in this regard for the continuation and the development of Ainu culture. There were such arguments that were made by Ainu people.

Therefore, we have decided to listen to Ainu people and the things are supposed…should be reviewed from the public policy viewpoint and going forward, we consider it very important to allow the necessary utilization of land and natural resources for the continuation of Ainu culture. As for specific policies in particular with regard to the regeneration and re-creation of Ainu traditional living environment we are going to consider the possibility of expansion of such areas based on the views from Ainu people. And also, necessary adjustment has to be carried out and put in place so that those national parks that could be used for that purpose, and this way we are considering a gradual realization of the continuation of Ainu culture by the utilization of land and natural resources and we are going to continue to listen to Ainu people’s views at such venues as Ainu policy promotion _____.

Lastly, as Mr. Thornberry has mentioned that legislation may be necessary in order to reinforce the rights of the Ainu people. As for the legislative measures, in the process of the policies that are to be formulated and implemented we would be looking at how the policies will be progressing and also based upon the results of the actual livelihood survey to be made of the Ainu people living outside of Hokkaido and also listening to the views of Ainu not only from the philosophical point of view, we also need to look at diverse viewpoints including the content of policies to be legally positioned. Now, as for the legislative measures in the report coming from the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons the resolve and the stance of the national government must be indicated specifically in the form of law. The legislative measures may have significant relevance in promoting in a secure manner Ainu policies going forward. So the government would like to duly base ourselves on such recommendations and study about the possible legislations. Thank you for the comments.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, the Foreign Office and Ministry of Justice staff will answer on the questions of people of Okinawa and Buraku. Please…

Ms. Shino (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Good morning. My name is Shino with the Foreign Ministry. Now, there are a series of questions and comments with regard to Okinawa people suggested by Professor Thornberry and others. Now, we are not professionals of ethnology and linguistics and so it is rather difficult for me to give you a clear statement on that the ethnicity of the Okinawan people and I hope that you will understand that position. As part of the government position, those people living in Okinawan islands have nurtured a unique and rich culture and tradition. And we can acknowledge the fact and at the same time it is the view of the government that there is no indigenous people other than Ainu in Japan.

However, ___we have to think in accordance with the spirit of ICERD is that to find out if there is any discrimination against Okinawan people and if it does exist, then what kind of measures, countermeasures should be put into place. And in this regard, what I would like to answer is in fact Okinawan people are also Japanese nationals, and they enjoy the equal rights as Japanese nationals and they can also rely on the same____which is available to Japanese nationals. At the same time, in Japan everybody is allowed to enjoy their own culture and they can practice their own religion and there is no prohibition with regard to the rights of using their own language. Therefore, based on this regard we are promoting Okinawan development plan in order to promote the traditional culture and lifestyle of the Okinawan people.

Now, on the interpretation that Japan had on the term descent, there have been several comments and questions have been asked. For the descent as included in the convention, the interpretation of Japan, it has been clearly had been given in the last review as well as in the periodic report submitted by the government of Japan as well as in our answers to the list of questions. Rather than having the exchange of views with the distinguished members on the interpretation of the term descent at this dialogue today, as I have already mentioned in the case of the Okinawan people whether any discrimination exist for the Dowa people and if there is discrimination what are the responses taken. It would be more befitting with the spirit of the ICERD in having such exchange of views. We have all been respecting to the maximum the principle of equity under the law which is being ensured in article 14 paragraph 1 to try to realize a society without any discrimination.

Ms. Aono (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Aono with the Ministry of Justice. Thank you very much for insightful views expressed in the last session. Mr. Avtonomov and Mr. Diaconu there was a question about the family register system, with regard to the current family register system, it is a system, a rational system which we can see the family relations. Therefore, with regard to any possibility of revising the method of organizing family relationship information or data we have no such idea at this point in time. Now there was also a question with regard to access to the family register database. And from the viewpoint of the protection of individual information, in 2008, on May 1 revised family register law was forced and as a result, the identification of the_____is to be made as part of efforts to prevent any wrongdoings and such measures have been in place.

Next, many members of the committee have asked the question but in particular from Mr. Diaconu, whether the specials measures law on the Dowa policies have met with success for its purpose. Because we deemed it necessary to take special measures for the Dowa issue, the law regarding the special fiscal measures of the government for regional improvement, the projects, and the other special measures law were established. However, the national government as well as local governments and other parties had been making efforts for more than three decades. The poor livelihood environments begetting discrimination again and again have been significantly improved and we have seen the promotion of education and enlightenment in eliminating the consciousness for discrimination. And based upon the major changes that are happening in the environment surrounding the Dowa district, special measures law was terminated at the end of March in 2002.

And also on the Dowa issue, the Ministry of Justice human rights organ is making the appropriate advice for the human rights consultations, and when there is a suspicious case for infringement of human rights investigation will be made as a case for the human rights investigation, and if we do find such facts of infringement then the appropriate measures will be taken to remove such infringements, and if the case is being found where messages and information is written on the Internet which is harmful then we will ask the Internet service provider to delete such messages. We are also conducting educational programs to resolve any discriminatory ideas.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, Ministry of Education and Science staff will answer on the question of the education related, school education related matters of minorities.

Ms. Konishi (Japanese government delegation: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)

My name is Konishi with the Ministry of Education. Now I would like to take the floor and talk about educational measures relating to minorities. There are two major questions. The first one, was raised by Professor Thornberry and Mr. Amir, the elimination of discriminatory attitudes in Japan and for that to be achieved education on the history with the neighboring countries, and what kind of education programs are being offered for that purpose at public schools. At elementary and junior high schools, in the subject of social studies, when the students learn about the history of our country, they are taught in connection with the history of neighboring countries. And at senior high schools history of the world is a compulsory subject, and the neighboring countries’ situations are also taught in connection with the global history. And in the history of Japan subject, the political relations with neighboring countries and also exchanges and contacts at the economic and cultural level have been provided as part of the education program. And aside from that, in the subject of geography, under the title of the research into the neighboring countries, that the relations have been established with the cultures and lifestyles have been intermingled. And in politics and economics study at senior high school, that there is also a wording that is contained in the course of the study that is aimed at promoting international law understanding including human rights.

Next, for the foreign children on education of the children there was a question that was raised. Allowed me to answer. From Mr. Martinez, especially in the educational area for foreign children what are the measures taken for their education and the recent situation needs to be informed. Now, for the foreign children, if they wish to enroll in the public compulsory schools, based upon the article 13 of ICESCR, as well as article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We do accept them on free of charge basis. If such children wish to enroll in school for foreigners, of course they can choose to do so. The Ministry of Education, in order that the foreign children will not miss the opportunity to enroll in the public compulsory educational schools, we are providing the school enrollment guidebook in seven languages which give the procedures for enrollment as well as educational system in Japan and we are disseminating such brochures at the educational board and others. Furthermore, for the projects promoting the acceptance of foreign schoolchildren, bilingual counselor is being located at the educational board to provide counseling and information and enrollment. We also have been allocating supporters who can speak the mother tongue of such foreigner children in order to assist them for the Japanese language education. We are thus assisting the enrollment of the foreign children into public schools and we would like to make further efforts to facilitate the acceptance of such children in the public schools.

Next, this is a question raised by Professor Thornberry. Education programs are offered to Peruvians of Japanese descent and Brazilians of Japanese descent. Currently, the number of Brazilian schools in Japan is 84. Out of that number, there are three schools were Peruvians. And out of that number 53 schools are accepted or approved by the government of Brazil. So in those schools, they are guaranteed to smooth the advance into higher schools for those Brazilian children in Brazil. In these schools services are provided to those Brazilian children and parents who are going to stay a short period of time in Japan and those schools are offering education programs and curriculums based on the Brazilian course of study. And the local governments are offering the special allowances subsidies in order to reduce the level of tuition and free medical check. And aside from that, in order to make improvements to the education status and the management of administration of the Brazilian schools, we are also conducting a research and survey on the immediate issues that face Brazilian children.

Next, the economic support provided to the schools for foreigners. Especially, economic assistance as well as for the tax incentives, Mr. Thornberry has asked us to inform him on those measures. And also from Mr. Diaconu, some international schools are allowed tax benefits that may lead to discrimination amongst the schools for foreigners. So let me answer those questions in one segment. First of all, for the schools for the foreigners, those miscellaneous schools which are authorized by the prefectural governors based on the school education law article 134, and the entities are in the form of school corporations or quasi-school corporations. Necessary support are given from the local governments and such. On the other hand, as for the tax measures, those schools for foreigners which are being authorized as miscellaneous schools, under the certain conditions, the consumption tax on tuition are being exempted. Furthermore, on the entity for establishing the school is in the form of school corporations or quasi-school corporations, income tax, corporation tax, local resident tax, enterprise tax, and others are being exempted. As for corporation tax and income tax benefits for further benefits offered these schools for foreigners for those corporations which are establishing miscellaneous schools which accept the foreign children which are in Japan only for the short stay, it has been approved to be given tax benefits from the point of view of policy____to promote inward foreign direct investment. So I don’t think that’s what constitutes an undue discrimination to the other foreign schools. Having said that, in order to expand the scope of schools for foreigners which are covered by the tax benefit measures, we need to consider new policy goals as well as to study the criteria for institutional systems in order to achieve the goal in an effective manner so we would like to continue to make study.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, there are so many questions about Koreans living in Japan. So, about their working conditions and improvement matters, that sort of things, Ministry of Welfare and Labor staff will answer and then harassment and that sort of thing will be answered from staff from the Ministry of Justice, and then about educational aspects the Ministry of Education staff will answer, so please, first about improvement of labor conditions. Please…

Mr. Hoshida (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

My name Hoshida with the Ministry of Health. There was a question raised by Mr. Huang. There was an____improvement in the area of education and employment and living conditions. And with regard to education, with regard to accepting Korean residents and other foreigners of other nationalities, so if they wish to enter a compulsory education in public school, they can be admitted without any charge, and if they would like to enroll in foreign school this option is also left to them. With regard to employment, for the purpose of elimination of discrimination, we are providing guidance and awareness raising programs targeting employers so that they can introduce a fair screening system and recruitment system. As far as those workers that are employed in Japan despite their nationalities, the labor related laws will be universally applied. With regard to the social security programs, not only those Korean residents, but also all those foreigners residing in Japan legally, the same rule and system is applied to them. Thank you.

Mr. Ehara (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Ehara from the Human Rights Promotion Division of the Ministry of Justice. Mr. Diaconu, Mr. De Gouttes, and Mr. Thornberry have asked on the question of the harassments for the students of the Korean schools. For the children enrolled in Korean schools, and the question of harassment for such children, Ministry of Justice human rights organ has been engaged in a campaign to educate the___people. We have a slogan of respecting the human rights of foreigners as the major item for such annual campaigns. Throughout the year we have education activities on a nationwide basis. We also have established human rights counseling centers so that the children enrolled in Korean schools as well as the related people will be able to consult on the different questions and if we do find some suspicious cases of human rights infringements, we will expeditiously make investigations and take appropriate measures. In particular, when there is intermittent nuclear testing as well as launching of missiles, incidents by North Korea may trigger harassments to children enrolled in Korean schools. We will make the utmost efforts to continue our promotion and education activities and we tried to gather relevant information and if we do suspect that there may be infringement of human rights we will expeditiously investigate as to the case of human rights investment to take very strict measures and we will reinforce the human rights protection measures and provide guidance to the relevant departments. Recently, in April of 2009, North Korea launched a flying object and also in the same year in May, North Korea conducted underground nuclear testing. And the Ministry of Justice human rights organ provided necessary guidance on those occasions. Thank you.

Next, the question about Korean schools and what kind of curriculum programs are being offered. This was a question raised by Mr. Diaconu. First of all, there are schools for Korean residents, they are the ones the schools where they can learn their own culture. As for those schools that accommodate Koreans with North Korean nationality those schools are admitted as miscellaneous schools and they are relieved of the fixed asset tax and the corporation tax and the business tax except taxation on donations.

As for those schools for Korean residents with South Korean nationality, they offer learning and study about the Korean language and the Korean culture and there are some schools that are admitted or approved as formal school that is stipulated by article 1 of the School Education Law. And the course of study is applied to those schools when it comes to their teaching programs. Many of those schools for Korean residents, they have already been admitted or approved by local governments and there are many schools as such that receive subsidies from local governments. There was another question raised, out of those schools for Korean residents there are_____located in Tokyo that are eligible for the admittance into university. And there was also a comment made that the unfair treatment was applied to those schools because their eligibility was not admitted. Now with regard to the eligibility to be admitted into university in Japan, regardless of the Japanese nationality, anyone who has graduated from a senior high school or the students with the academic skill that is equivalent to a graduate they are admitted or they can be eligible. Therefore, it is not the fact that those graduates of the Korean schools for Korean residents are located in Tokyo, that there are five schools in Shizuoka Prefecture and eight schools and Aichi Prefecture which is famous for Toyota and there are two other schools in the prefecture and their eligibility is admitted. And we also softened the regulations relating to the eligibility to be admitted to university in September 2003 for those graduates of foreign schools located in Japan if those schools are admitted as equivalent to the academic achievement of the schools in their home countries. And those graduates of foreign schools that are accredited by international accreditation organizations, also those persons are judged eligible by each university, so those conditions were added to this regulation, therefore, the foreign nationals are widely admitted to be eligible to be admitted to university.

Now, let me answer to the question raised by Mr. Avtonomov which is on the bill to make free of charge the tuition for the senior high school that North Korean schools are to be excluded. There has been a newspaper report to that effect and what are the facts was the point of the question. As you may know the bill to make tuition free of charge for the senior high schools to not collect tuition for public senior high schools and to provide assistance the money for enrollment into senior high schools have been adopted by the Cabinet in January this year and the bill was submitted to the Diet. We are aware of the content of the newspaper report which was pointed out. In the bill for the miscellaneous schools including the schools for foreigners, the coverage would be for those____in the senior high schools which are similar to the senior high schools as stipulated under the ministerial ordinance. So we would like to make the appropriate decision based upon the deliberation to be done by the Diet.

Sorry for my long answer. This is going to be my last answer. Mr. Thornberry and Mr. Amir raised the following question relating to human rights education and awareness raising. This is going to be my last answer. Programs for human rights education and awareness raising targeting_____population more detailed information is needed and targeting in particular the younger generation in particular in public schools, what kind of human rights education programs have been offered in the curriculum. Now, I would like to put them together in my answer. First, human rights education and awareness raising programs, in March 2002, the Basic Plan for Human Rights Education and Encouragement, and based on that, the human rights, the respect for human rights and awareness raising should be pursued through school education and social education, elimination of prejudice and discriminatory attitudes and awareness raising activities in order to realize_____solution for discrimination related problems. And based on the Constitution and the Basic Law on Education, in school education and depending on the development level of the children, throughout school education, the government paid much attention to programs and educational programs that are aimed at raising human rights protection. And at the Ministry, from the viewpoint of the protection and the respect for basic human rights and together with the Board of Education, we have been promoting the comprehensive human rights education promotion_____designated to promote human rights education research that are focused on school functions to look into what kind of teaching instructions and methodologies should be employed for promoting human rights education. And we have been promoting those____programs and projects. With regard to human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice, they have identified Dowa problems, Ainu people, and foreign nationals. Those minority groups are picked up and selected as priority items throughout the year and they have been engaged in organized lectures and symposia and training sessions nationwide.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, Ministry of Justice staff will answer on the question of the monitoring mechanism and statistics on the cases of racial discrimination or xenophobia, and also the question on the establishment of the human rights institute in Japan.

Mr. Ogawa (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Ogawa from the Human Rights Bureau of the Ministry of Justice. First of all, from Mr. Murillo Martinez, there was the question on the monitoring mechanism and whether such a mechanism is in place for xenophobia. And in particular, what may be the situation for the xenophobic information as being placed in the Internet. Now, the Ministry of Justice human rights organs are dealing with various issues to do with human rights including discrimination on foreigners. We are providing through the human rights counseling, to provide appropriate advice as well as introducing the relevant institutions and the legal of affairs bureau and local legal affairs bureau on a nationwide basis. And when we find that there are some suspicions of infringement of human rights we will make investigation as to the case of human rights infringement. And when we acknowledge that there is a fact of infringement, we will take necessary measures to eliminate such infringements and also to take preventive measures for recurrence. As for cases of human rights infringement of foreigners, the cases opened up newly within 2008, the number was 121, of which the cases to do with discriminatory treatment number 97, and 16 cases for assault and abuse. Now, let me refer to the Internet situation. Ministry of Justice human rights organ have been put forth to stop human rights infringement abusing the Internet as the campaign slogan. For encouragement and promotion activities throughout the year we have encouragement activities on a nationwide basis for those malicious sorts of cases which infringe on human rights including the honor as well as privacy of others. When we can identify the senders of such information or message, through education and encouragement of those persons, try to eliminate such infringements. When we cannot identify the senders we will ask the Internet service providers to delete such information. We are always taking appropriate measures.

With regard to the question of the establishment of a national human rights institution, there were four members who asked this question. The government considers necessary to set up an independent national human rights institution in order to achieve effective remedy of human rights victims. Currently, with regard to the organizational structure, we have been looking into the issues relating to the establishment in earnest. This national human rights institution which will be newly established, will be set up in accordance with the Paris Principles. At this point in time, there is no definite schedule in place, but we would like to try and make efforts so that the draft, the bill, related bill will be presented to the Diet at the soonest possible date. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will answer on the question of article 4 a b of this Convention and the question of the political right of the foreigners.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Now, the number of conventions as ratified by Japan may be different depending on how you count it, but we try as much as possible to ratify those conventions.  As Mr. Peter that has rightly said for ICESCR as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Japan attaches reservations, and I also agree with Mr. Peter that reservations to be attached in ratifying the convention should be minimal as possible. But, in making precise study for the guarantee____required by the convention ____condition and method for ensuring the guarantee____in Japan of the need to clarify by attaching reservations. Now, as to specific question, the concept of what is being provided by article 4___of the convention includes the broad aspects for various situations and various types of conduct. For example, dissemination of ideas of racial discrimination and for all of such situations to try to apply punitive laws. For example, in view of freedom of expression where necessity and____of constraints should be strictly circumscribed as well as principle of legality of crime and punishment____specificity and clarity of scope and punishment____require may not be compatible with guarantees prescribed in the Japanese constitution and thereby we have attached a reservation for article 4 a and b. To withdraw the reservation, as to say to make a study for the possible punitive legislations for the dissemination of ideas of racial discrimination may unduly discourage legitimate discourse, so we need to strike a balance between the effect of the punitive measures and the negative impact on freedom of expression. I don’t think that the situation in Japan right now has rampant dissemination of discriminatory ideas or incitement of discrimination. I don’t think that that warrants the study of such punitive measures right now.

There was a question with regard to the voting rights, suffrage, that at the local government level, there was a ______ that argued for the suffrage right should be admitted in local governments, and since October 1998, as many as 15 bills were submitted to the Diet, in this regard. And the government would like to monitor what kind of actions will be taken at the Diet level.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, I ask the staff from the Ministry of Justice to answer questions on nationality or citizenship and refugee related matters.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

Please let me give answers to the questions from Mr. Thornberry as well as Mr. Diaconu, for the special permanent residents. Special permanent residents in accordance with article 2a and b of the treaty of peace with Japan, the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan have been separated from the territories of Japan from the day of entry of force of this treaty. In accordance with that, notwithstanding the will of the person those who had to leave Japanese nationality, but those people who continually reside in Japan before the ending of the second world war as well as their descendants. For these sorts of people, the special law, the name is, 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, that has been promulgated. So compared to the other foreigners, by the provision of the law for the reasons for deportation is extremely limited and also the ceiling for the reentry permit is three years for the general foreigners but for the special permanent residents it is four years. So there are special considerations given to these people because of the historical developments as well as the fact that they have been long settled in Japan. Special permanent residents are able to acquire Japanese nationality through naturalization. For those people who have special territorial as well as blood relations with Japan, the conditions for naturalization are being relaxed.

Next, there was a question raised by Mr. Avtonomov. What are the advantages and disadvantages for those Korean residents who do not ask for naturalization? Now, basically naturalization obligation is based on individual will and so when it comes to their reasons for not applying for naturalization or for applying for naturalization, it is very difficult for us to make specific comments on those individual feelings. Now for those who have special territorial relations and bloodline relations the naturalization conditions have been relaxed in which I have already mentioned.

Next, I would like to give answers to the questions raised by many members including Mr. Thornberry whether the name needs to be changed at the time of naturalization. For those persons who would like to acquire Japanese nationality, there is no fact that they are being urged to change their names. For those people who have acquired the Japanese nationality on their own will they are able to change their name. But, as for the characters that can be used for the name, for the native Japanese as well as the naturalized Japanese, in order not to raise any inconveniences for their social life, it may be necessary for them to choose the easy to read and write characters used in common and Japanese society. Now, the name to be adopted upon the naturalization, it is not that you should use just the Chinese characters; you can also use phonetic characters like hiragana and katakana as well.

Next, there was a question raised by Mr. Diaconu, with regard to the acceptance of Indochinese refugees. Now, regardless of the nationality of those refugees, based on the Convention on the Status of Refugees and so forth they seek refuge in Japan escaping from political persecution, they are supposed to be recognized as refugees and in consideration of ______ situation facing those refugees, we will offer humanitarian considerations and services, and so it is not the fact that our refugee related policy is only limited or restricted to those from Vietnam, Indochina, and Myanmar.

Now, as to the procedures of recognition of refugees, there was a question raised by Mr. Thornberry as to the language and as to the lack of information. The application for recognition of refugees are being prepared in 24 languages as for brochures to inform the procedures for refugee recognition is being prepared in 14 languages and such documents are available in the local immigration control offices on a nationwide basis as well as through the Internet. Whenever an interview was conducted, for the application to be recognized as refugees, as a principle, we go through the interpreter in the language as required by the applicant. And in the interview, we would confirm whether the applicant adequately understands the languages by the interpreter. The procedure is always being a very careful procedure in selecting the interpreters as well. As for the translation of the document in order to make expeditious decisions the government pays for the cost of the translation.

Next, this is a question raised by Mr. Thornberry with regard to migrant woman exposed to domestic violence and Mr. Thornberry was paying attention to the revised immigration law which took place last February. And if there is no substantive marriage status for over six months, their status is to be revoked and there is a______. It is true, but this is for the purpose of targeting disguised marriage or false acquisition of the status of residence, and this is the purpose of the revised law. And as you raised in your statement when the migrant worker or migrant women in the process of divorce mediation and who is also exposed to domestic violence, and so she is not in the substantive marriage status, but with the justifiable reason, the revocation clause is not going to be applied. And under the revised immigration control law, if the revocation is to be applied to a certain person, that person who is subject to the possibility of revocation has to be presented with the alternative status of residence. And that kind of consideration should be given by the government and which is also stipulated in the law. And that ends my answer.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you. Again, from the Ministry of Justice staff will answer on the question of the specific… from the Ministry of Foreign affairs specific law or legislation on nondiscrimination and the question of the discrimination amongst private citizens.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Now, whether there is a necessity to adopt the law on racial discrimination, and implementing article 4 of the ICERD in Japan, article 14 paragraph 1 of the Constitution includes the equality under the law for which includes the forbidding the racial discrimination has the members____very well. For expression as well as dissemination of the ideas for discrimination if it is in the content of damaging the honor and credit of the specific individuals as well as groups, there are some punitive laws for instance, collective intimidation as well as habitual____these are the crimes which are punishable under the law concerning punishment of physical violence and others. And if the present circumstances in Japan cannot effectively suppress the act of discrimination under the existing legal system, I don’t think that the current situation is as such therefore I do not see any necessity for legislating a law in particular for racial discrimination. Furthermore, from Mr. Diaconu, raised the question on the relationship between the discriminatory motive and the criminal justice procedures. In the criminal justice trials in Japan, the malicious intent is an important element to be considered by the judge in sentencing. Therefore, whether the motivation is based upon racial discrimination or not it is being appropriately being considered under the criminal justice in Japan in the degree of sentencing.

Now, I take the floor. This is a question by Professor Thornberry. The question was relating to the prohibition of racial discrimination between private persons. Now article 14 of the Constitution is not directly applying to the behavior and acts between private persons, but it is covered and controlled by the civil code, and the implementation of the civil code, the objective of article 14 is supposed to be taken into consideration. To be more specific, in the private law any racial discriminatory acts that infringe on the basic human rights may be judged as invalid. And in relation to that, if there is any damage inflicted on others as a result of racially discriminatory acts, total responsibility should be borne by that person in the form of the payment of damages in certain conditions. Therefore, a fair and just compensation has to be made. And in addition to that, the Constitution stipulates that anyone is guaranteed the right to court and so any victim subject to racial discriminatory acts can apply for relief based on the abovementioned laws. Therefore, the provisions of the Constitution can be appropriately applied onto acts between private persons.

Next will be the last comment from the Ministry of Justice. Mr. De Gouttes has raised the point why did the Supreme Court refuse the appointment of a foreigner to the family court mediator. As a premise for this, to be engaged in an act of exercise of public power, or to participate in public decision-making for important measures, and also for the civil servants given the task to participate in such processes, we suppose that the persons having Japanese nationality are to be appointed. So under such a premise the family court mediators who are part-time staff of the court, will be engaged in the process of participating in the mediation committee. And they will be engaged in acts of exercise of public power. And also, may participate in the public decision-making, they would fall under the category of civil servants getting the task to participate in the public decision-making. So in order to be appointed it requires Japanese nationality. So we recognize that the Supreme Court has refused the appointment of foreigners to the family court mediators because such reason.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Finally, questions concerning on the amendment of the convention, and also questions relating to the ILO related treaties, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Welfare and Labor will answer.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

First of all, the effectiveness of the treaty there was a question raised by Mr. Peter. As Mr. Peter mentioned, there are conventions that have been ratified by our government have the same effect as the domestic law, but if there is any misunderstanding on the part of Mr. Peter I just would like to make a correction. When an individual lodges a complaint, it is possible for him or her to invoke the international treaty. And there were such court cases and the specific example is contained in paragraph 66 of the periodic report.

Now we understand that for the amendment of article 8 of the ICERD is to have the contribution to become the main source of finance from the countries including the non-parties to the convention. That’s to say to be funded through the ordinary budget of the United Nations. On the other hand, we are of the position that the duties of the convention will bind, as a principle, only the parties so there is no plan for us to accept such an amendment because it should be the parties who should bear the expenses for the ICERD Convention.

Mr. Hoshida (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

I am Hoshida with the Ministry of Health. There was a question raised by Thornberry and Diaconu. Now with regard to ILO Convention 111, is aimed_____eliminating discrimination in wide scope in the areas of employment and occupation. And in concluding or ratifying the Convention, I should say that there should be scrutinization of the Convention and domestic laws and their compatibility between the two. So we would like to continue this study, but under the article of the Constitution basically in general terms, all people are treated equal under the law and in the areas of employment and occupation related labor laws are in place in order to carry out measures against discrimination. Now, next, ILO convention 169, this is relating to the indigenous peoples customary practice relating to punishment that should be respected and also that the measures in place of detention will take precedence over the punishment the detention____for indigenous peoples. But this should be reviewed from the viewpoint of the principle of legality of crime and punishment and the quality and fairness of punishment, I consider it involves a lot of problems before we can actually conclude this convention.

Next, there was a question raised on the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports. For the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid as well as the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports, Japan has not ratified those conventions. But consistently from the past Japan has not condoned apartheid because it oppresses racial equality as well as respect of basic human rights.

The last question, the Genocide Convention was not ratified by Japan. There was a question as such. The genocide crime for instance is a heinous crime that is committed in the international community and we should not stand idle on those issues. The reason why we joined ICC was exactly from that viewpoint and understanding. But when it comes to the Genocide Convention, the domestic law should be stipulated in order to punish them, and the punishable acts are quite wide in scope and so in our government actions we have to consider the necessity of the Genocide Treaty and also the domestic laws that should be put in place so we have to continue with careful consideration of the possibility.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

This concludes our answers.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Excellency, I am most grateful to you and your delegation for the replies you have given and the fact also that your delegation has done it with discipline and we have adhered to our time constraints so now what I propose doing is I’d explained I’d give the floor to speakers in the order that they have requested the floor and this will be followed by further responses from your delegation. May I request distinguished members to be direct in their questions and observations so that our dialogue is truly an interactive dialogue. I give the floor to Mr. Diaconu followed by Mr. Lahiri.

Mr. Diaconu

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman, I would like to welcome the answers, as you said disciplined and well organized and to all our questions. Now, I noted very interesting developments concerning the Ainu people. Consultations have taken place, measures have been taken concerning the access to resources of land to fishing and the preservation of their culture. And I think this is a very important opening to any other measures concerning the implementation of our convention. Many things which were not clear for us resulting from the formulations in the report like for instance that concerning the Tokyo School or the refugees. Now, we have a clear picture on these issues from the answers given by the delegation. There are still issues on which we would like the delegation and the government to make efforts to make progress.

The issue of other indigenous peoples, I think that remains a permanent problem a permanent issue to be considered by the state party. And I would submit that the State party should organize consultations with the representatives of these people. As you have consultations with the Ainu representatives why don’t Japanese state bodies have consultations with the representatives of the Buraku or Ryukyu people to see what is and what do they want, what is their problem. And also why don’t you initiate studies on their culture, on their language to see what are the differences. Are these people different from the Japanese majority do they have a different culture and language because if they have one that is a minority with the meaning of culture and language and it should be taken care of if this is a people who were there for centuries then these are an indigenous people which is different from the Japanese majority. So one has to find out, but for this, dialogue is necessary talk to their representatives please.

As to the issue of descent, descent based discrimination, I looked at the answer given by the delegation to this issue, in the answers given to questions of the country rapporteur. And I can tell you that I am not convinced by this answer. I’m not convinced. So the issue of descent has to be placed somewhere but under our convention. Not outside. Some of the countries of the region consider that this is a social problem not an ethnic one. You don’t consider it even as a social one. And you don’t consider it as an ethnic one. Then what it is for you? It is in the convention. Find the place for it in the convention. And if it is considered to be a national or ethnic origin okay, but let’s deal with it under the convention. Look again at the situation of these people because this is the most important issue. Are they treated as people on the basis of social stratification as a group which is considered under social stratification as a caste according to a caste system. Then it is a people which is discriminated on the basis of descent.

As to schools, we received some answers and some of them are complete and good. I think this question should be given more attention in order to avoid any discrimination in terms of tax exemptions and in terms of recognizing studies in different schools and recognizing access to children of these schools to higher education.

As for the article 4, as I noticed already there is legislation in the country to punish these acts for everybody. What one could call a general criminal law. These acts are punished from the smallest let’s say the less difficult offenses to the violence. But what is missing is that racial motivation, there is no legislation which is asking the judge to take into account the racial motivation. And this is about racial discrimination. No country could tell us that there is no racial motivation in the country when such acts are committed. There is racial motivation in some cases not in all. It is up to the judge to find it, but give it the possibility to find it. And that is why I think that under malicious intent as it was said today here, discrimination and racial discrimination may come very well under malicious intent. But the judges have to be given the possibility under a piece of law for interpretation to take into account the racial motivation as a malicious intent among other malicious intents.

So these are my comments and thank you very much. Thank you again. I think this is a good dialogue we had and we are making progress, we are understanding better each other, and we see what are the issues to be dealt with. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you for your comments Mr. Diaconu, and I hand the floor to Mr. Lahiri followed by Mr. De Gouttes.

Mr. Lahiri

Thank you Mr. Chairman. Since I did not take the floor yesterday I would like to, like all the others, my colleagues, welcome the Japanese delegation of an impressive size and with young and bright faces and I’m sure you’ll do well in public service. I listened with great interest, or very closely to the long exchange that we had yesterday.

And while of course our exchange was informative and taken in very good spirit, I think it would be difficult to say that the views of CERD and of the Japanese government have converged in any substantial degree since the time when we last considered the Japanese periodic report that initial report.

The one issue that on which there is a clear indication of change and progress is the recognition by the Japanese government that an independent national human rights institution in accord with the Paris Principles would be helpful and desirable, and that it is working on it.

However, since 2001, I may be wrong but from what I can see, there has been little change in the absence of legal provisions which would allow the effective implementation of this convention in the way that we are used to dealing with it.

On information relating to the minority groups, the continued disadvantages of people of Korean stock and Chinese also to an extent and overall the absence of meaningful implementation of the recommendations and suggestions and CERD’s last report.

Mr. Chairman, Japan is a very unique country unlike much larger Asian countries like India which came under the thrall of British colonialism or China which easily lost or quickly lost the Opium War. Japan has had an entirely different trajectory. Within 50 years of the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry and his black ships, Japan had developed into a modern and industrially advanced nation and had militarily defeated in much larger country like Russia – a Western country. My Japanese friends sometimes tell me that this is due in some measure to a spirit of__[sonnou jouhi?]__I don’t know if I’m pronouncing it correctly____translated loosely as “throw out the barbarians” which swept Japan during the Edo period; it’s a spirit based on chauvinistic ethnic pride, but it stood Japan in a very good state not just recently, but apparently also in the seventh century in its confrontation against the ____ Kingdom in Korea or the Tang Dynasty. More recently, this spirit of____to use a shorthand for it, allowed and you know which went on changed slightly during the Meiji Restoration. It allowed Japan to preserve its independence, to prevent the kind of national catastrophes which many other countries in Asia suffered, and in that sense it has been important in the Japanese nation’s, the way it has achieved its position which is widely admired in Asia.

However, times have now changed and Japan perhaps doesn’t face such threats. I think for a committee like CERD, I would on behalf of CERD respectively urge that our suggestions and recommendations for changes in Japanese law and practice to bring it more into line with the international norms in this matter. Are not rejected in the spirit of____but it is clear that we are both on the same side. There is no contradiction and we hope that our suggestions in this matter in terms of the various points that have been raised by my colleagues yesterday and today are given due consideration and perhaps we can express the hope that by the time we meet next time for an exchange there will be greater convergence not on the overall issue of racial discrimination I mean those that we have already but on the mechanisms for implementing the convention on which I suspect we still have some divergences. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you for your interesting remarks, and Mr. De Gouttes you have the floor followed by Mr. Peter and then Mr. Murillo Martinez. Sorry Mr. Prosper. After Mr. De Gouttes, it’s Mr. Prosper followed by Mr. Murillo Martinez. But perhaps Mr. Peter will also speak later.

Mr. De Gouttes

Thank you Chairman. My comments will go along the same lines to a great extent to what Mr. Diaconu has said. I’d like to thank the delegation for the replies given this morning which were very complete. Particularly the ____the Ainu people, the progress made and the consultations with that population group in Japan.

But there are other groups other than the Ainu which also seek respect for their cultures and languages and their rights. This is particularly true of the Burakumin. Once again then, I’d like to refer to the summary produced by the Office of the High Commissioner during the UPR in May 2008 in the report of the special rapporteur for contemporary forms of racism in 2005. According to those documents, the Burakumin are apparently very numerous apparently some 3 million people. These reports also state that they are descended from communities considered as being pariah during the feudal period. The report again states that it’s because they had they did work related to death for example, they had jobs which were considered impure, so it’s a difficult past for this population, although the castes have been abolished for a long time. Inevitably then there is the criteria of descent in terms of where they come from. And you’ve already said and Mr. Diaconu has noted that article 1 of the Convention deals with racism based on race but also descent and we have a general recommendation number 29 which refers to this concerning discrimination based on descent or caste origin. Now, I think there’s been a good opening up to the Ainu people so the question is whether you can also envisage consultations with other groups seeking promotion of their rights including the Burakumin who also live in Okinawa (this is incorrect). So I’d be very interested in continuing this discussion on the notion of descent and possible openings we could expect from your government on what seems to be a difference between the committee and yourselves on the criteria of discrimination based on descent. That’s what I wanted to add to the discussion. Thank you Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. De Gouttes. Mr. Prosper, you have the floor followed by a Mr. Murillo Martinez.

Mr. Prosper

Thank you Mr. Chairman. First, I want to thank the delegation for its presentation the information in the report provided both yesterday and today. I did not speak yesterday but I have to say that listening to the conversation and the dialogue we definitely learned a lot and received greater insights as to not only the situation in Japan but also your policies and your rationale for what you do and what you are doing. I would also like to thank the rapporteur for his thorough assessment yesterday really, for me it removed the need to intervene yesterday on many of the issues and I was able to have the luxury of listening to my colleagues ask the questions.

Today an interesting issue was raised which is relevant to the committee but it’s something that’s of personal interest to me and I just wanted to explore it a little bit more and that is the issue of the Genocide Convention as well as the issue related to the ICC the International Criminal Court. I remember I was involved in the negotiations from the beginning and I remember at the time in the late 90s when the United States was trying to assess and determine its position both under President Clinton which I was involved with and then later with President Bush we were looking to what Japan was doing and considering as you know there were conversations on the margins let’s put it, and you finally decided to join the ICC which the United States has not and there are reasons for that. But what I found interesting is that you felt comfortable enough to join the ICC but not comfortable enough to become a party for the Genocide Convention. In fact I would have found it to be the opposite such as we are, the United States is. I’m still struggling to understand why is it that you are able to be in that position or you feel comfortable in that position particularly because with the ICC as you are well aware of there is the principle of complementarity which obviously would grant you as well as other states parties the first bite of the apple if one of your nationals were accused of a crime under the ICC genocide crimes against humanity and war crimes. And part of the principle of complementarity is that state parties will enact legislation that would allow for them to punish those crimes found within the ICC so I’m just trying to understand the consistency because it is an apparent inconsistency and I’m sure you have an explanation for it whereby signing the ICC you’re basically saying that you are in a position to prosecute the crime of genocide yet you are not a state party to the Genocide Convention. If you could either now or we don’t need to take up the time just later or in the future reports just explain that a little bit more for our understanding because obviously the crime of genocide are acts which is as you said are reprehensible and it’s a fundamental protection that is consistent with the convention we are discussing here today, but again I would like to thank you for the dialogue, the information that you provided. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Prosper. I give the floor to Mr. Murillo Martinez, followed by Mr. Cali Tzay.

Mr. Martinez

Thank you Chairman. I too would like to thank the distinguished delegation of Japan for the very detailed replies they’ve given today. I’m pleased to hear that you have very detailed statistics on acts of xenophobia managed by the Ministry of Justice and it’s also very encouraging to know that you are making efforts to adopt a human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles.

Now, this is not so much a question, but yesterday we heard about Japan’s role, major contributions in international cooperation to promote human rights. And I am sure the delegation knows that last December, the General Assembly by acclamation, declared 2011 to be international year for persons of African origin. I’d like to take advantage of this opportunity then, just to note the importance of that commemoration and to express my optimistic hope that Japan like other countries will be very committed to that process and will make a very positive contribution to achieving the objectives which I’m sure will mean implementation of mechanisms for voluntary contributions. Thank you very much, Chairman, I do apologize to the delegation for taking advantage of this excellent opportunity for making that little speech.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you for the intervention Mr. Murillo Martinez. I give the floor to Mr. Cali Tzay followed by Mr. Avtonomov.

Mr. Cali Tzay

Thank you Chairman. I too would like to join my colleagues in thanking you the distinguished delegation of Japan for the replies and the reply to my question about seven members of the panel discussing the policy for the Ainu. This reply will help me to understand the situation.

Since there are seven might it not be more feasible for an Ainu delegation on a parity basis so that this panel could really discuss the policy needed by all of the Ainu people; of course reflecting the willingness of the Prime Minister. Of course we’ve heard they’re going to listen to the Ainu but perhaps then the panel should have a parity representation of the Ainu people.

With regard to Okinawa, I greatly respect the opinion of the delegation but I note the study by the Ecuadorian expert Mr. Jose Martinez_____on the situation of indigenous peoples in the world. He noted that one of the forms whereby an indigenous population can define itself as such is self definition. But he also said that indigenous peoples are those which existed which were in place before colonialization or the formation of current states. As far as I understand, the Okinawan has its own culture and language and idiosyncrasies. So the opinion of that expert would be that since Japan gave its support to the Declaration on Indigenous Peoples it would be of course recommendable, and I respectfully I say this, that the Okinawa people also be recognized as an indigenous people. I repeat, I believe they have a different language, a language which is different from Japanese.

And I’d also like to say that I’ve received information concerning the policy of retirement. There is a law specifically referring to this we were told that in the legislation there is a particular gap because Korean citizens because of their nationality are not taken account of in this policy that is neither elderly nor disabled.

I recall an expression I learned in the US “a crack in the law can be small that nobody can notice, but also can be so big that a caterpillar tractor can pass through.” So I think these gaps in legislation may be not be noted by some people or anybody, but also may result in a large group not receiving the necessary benefits so I think that the government of Japan could probably resolve this gap in the legislation with regard to this particular issue. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and I thank once again the distinguished delegation of Japan.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Cali Tzay for your remarks, and Mr. Avtonomov you have the floor now.

Mr. Avtonomov

Thank you for giving me the floor. Firstly, I’d like to apologize for not being here for the whole process of replies to questions because I have responsibilities as rapporteur on another country so I do apologize for this. I just wanted once again to welcome the delegation and I wanted to say good morning and say that in Japanese as well. I listened to the replies to questions, I heard them in Japanese, of course that doesn’t happen very often in this room, it was very interesting, and there were replies to questions that I raised yesterday. And I did hear some replies to those. I just wanted to make a few details clearer.

Of course we know the position with respect to the Burakumin group, nevertheless there was a partial answer to what I asked about registration of families. We know that there are difficult problems here. Because overcoming traditional stereotypes will be complicated in any country and Japan is no exception. No country is an exception. And we are well aware that basically this is related to the origin of such peoples not only their parents but their grandparents and so on,___these groups, and that’s what the discrimination arises from. Now I heard the answer about registration of families. I wasn’t actually asking for a change in the procedure on registration of families because I know that this is a rather long established system and has its advantages. The question of registration is not a question that we have to discuss here. Registration is not something that we are seeking to change. It has great significance for ensuring that people’s rights are enforced. But I did listen with interest to the fact that the new legislation on personal data and of course you shouldn’t close off access, somehow reduces access of all people universally to such data.

I therefore would like to ask whether there’s any…if there is a change in access to personal data, whether this has affected the Burakumin people, and whether discrimination with respect to these people is related let’s say to certain prejudices and stereotypes with employers. I would like to have more information about this, and it may not of course, not be conscious, sometimes people are not aware when they discriminate against someone, so as I say it may not be conscious. So I would like to know whether the situation of these people, the Burakumin, has changed following the change in legislation concerning access to personal data and if there are any positive moves forward with regard to reducing these problems. I think possibly, there needs to be further consideration as to how the access to data be arranged. It would be very interesting to hear whether then there is any additional information on this. If there isn’t any information available right now, perhaps it would be interesting to have that in the next periodic report. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Avtonomov. I would just like to interject a comment here. This arises from our discussions this morning, and that concerns indigenous people. You have stated that the Ainu people are the only one whom you recognize as the indigenous people. My understanding, my strict understanding of the situation would be that the Japanese people themselves are an indigenous people because ((Mr. Ueda: “Yes, of course.”)) I think they were there for as long as the Ainu but perhaps because of special circumstances they were isolated and underprivileged so we have of course Mr. Thornberry is our expert on the indigenous people and Mr. Cali Tzay, so this is I suppose the Japanese people are as indigenous as the Ainu and…because if you think in terms of time and continuity. So this is the only comment that I wish to make.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairperson. There are additional questions raised by members of the Committee and while our staffs are preparing sort of answers, possible answers to you, I will make a sort of general comment.

Of course there is no clear definition of indigenous people even in the UN Declaration or the UN resolution, so it’s difficult for us to identify or how can I say, define indigenous people as Mr. Chairperson stated. Different from the situation in Australia and New Zealand and the United States where indigenous people used to be there and then outsider came later. Our history is different, our history is different. That is true. I mean whether our ancestors come from southern China or from Siberia or from Polynesia we don’t know. From Africa maybe, we don’t know. There might be a sort of first wave arriving, and then second wave arriving, and then third wave arriving, all mixed and we now, we are Japanese. The Ainu, we recognized as an indigenous people because definitely they have their own culture, history, different from our, I mean so-called Japanese nationals.

But Okinawan people are Japanese. I mean, it’s difficult to identify, it’s difficult for you to identify say the people from Provence and the people from Ile-de-France. How do you identify themselves? The Okinawan people have a very of course a rich unique culture but their language of course, strong, how can I say, very probably a group of Japanese language, in broad sense they are Japanese language, I mean in comparison with say, Chinese or Korean or Taiwanese, they are Japanese language. Maybe, there are of course many many different, how can I say, theories and academic studies, but broadly speaking, people living in Okinawa are Japanese, in broad sense, so that’s the reason why are not identify them as indigenous people. Of course they have a sort of sometimes different history from mainland parts, and they had suffered heavily during World War II, they need economic development, so central government and prefectural government provided a great deal of assistance to Okinawa people to raise up their living standards, that sort of things, yes, we nurture the Okinawan culture, for example when the G8 summit was held in Okinawa, G8 leaders all enjoyed very beautiful culture of Okinawa as you know. Now, I’ll ask my deputy and other staff to answer as much as possible to your additional questions. Thank you.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; ?)

Well, there were some questions with regard to having consultations. Well, several or some members raised a question with regard to the possibility of having consultations with other groups, groups other than Ainu people. Now I’d like to respond to that. In formulating this the periodic report, in February 2006, through the website of the Ministry we asked for the submission of comments in written form, and in March 2006 targeting NGO groups we had an formal hearing, and in July 2006 and August 2007, we invited members of the community to organize a meeting to exchange views. In March 2006 there was an informal hearing as I mentioned. 16 NGO groups were represented and seven ministries were represented. And we had the opportunity of free discussion and exchange of views on the formulation of the periodic report. And in the first meeting in July 2007, about 60 people came to this meeting and also the seven ministries that were represented, and in the second meeting about 40 people attended and six government agencies were represented in that second meeting, therefore, through the website we asked for comments to be presented to us.

[DEBITO HERE:  I ATTENDED ONE OF THESE MOFA MEETINGS IN AUGUST 2007.  AS USUAL, IT WAS NOT AS THEY SAY TO THE UN.  SEE MY REPORT HERE.]

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Cabinet Secretariat)

The Cabinet Secretariat will respond. On the Ainu question, first of all, as to the membership of the Council for promoting the Ainu policy there are 14 members in total of which there are five Ainu people. Of the 14 of which two are the chief cabinet secretary and assistant to the prime minister so these two are politicians. So apart from those two politicians there’ll be 12, and of the 12, five are Ainu people. Now, under this Council there are two working groups. Of the six members, for both three are of Ainu people or representatives of the Ainu Association, so for the Council for the Promotion of Ainu Policy the 5 out of 12 – so there is not exactly parity – but we have five Ainu people participating. And the other members other than Ainu are academics who are well-versed on Ainu policies as well as representatives of the local governments in the districts where the Ainu people are residing. So____in fact, we will be able to duly hear the views of the Ainu people and the related persons. Next, on the indigenous people. Ainu people have been recognized as indigenous people. One thing is in Hokkaido in the Northern areas they are residing from the old times. The other factor is that Ainu language included there are distinct cultures and the traditions had been preserved and maintained by the Ainu people. So those are the factors in determining that they are to be recognized as indigenous people. Thank you.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

Next, the Korean residents. The pension issues involving Korean residents. The Ministry of Health will respond. First of all, with regard to the pension scheme, there is no nationality clause, therefore, the ___ program covers foreign nationals as well. However, in the past, before 1981 there was a nationality clause in place, and in 1982 and nationality clause was terminated, and on that occasion this regulation is to be applied in the future. Therefore at that point in time, the foreign nationals or the Koreans with the age of 84 and those handicapped people at the age of 48, they were not covered in the national pension scheme. As a result of that, they are taking a hard time and that is____, therefore welfare services should be applied, provided to that population and based on the discussion at the Diet level we would like to continue to look into this matter.

Next, on Buraku people, and the interpretation of descent. As for the interpretation of descent, in relation to the interpretation of the language as to the content of the government periodic report some of the members have said that it is not necessarily a satisfactory answer being given. But what we would like to say is, in the review of the periodic report from the Japanese government on the Dowa__question, this is not a question of descent, or this is not the question to be handled by the ICERD. If we are taken that position that we would not be reporting because of the positions, but that is not our position. For the specific aspects during the review, we have been always trying to engage in a constructive manner for dialogue, and this is more important, so I hope that we can continue with such a dialogue going forward. In any case, for ICERD based upon the spirit as mentioned in the preamble of the ICERD for the Dowa question, any kind of discrimination including the Dowa discrimination should never happen; that is always our position. In relation to this the Ministry of Justice would like to respond to the question of the family register and the general measures vis-à-vis the Dowa people. Please.

Ms. Aono (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name Aono with the Ministry of Justice. And there was a reference to the revised family register law in my comment, and I skip the background information. Therefore I just would like to make an additional comment that may overlap what I have just mentioned. In 2007, before the revision of the family register law, the professional organizations transferred the documents they received onto third parties and there were some illegal acts involved in such illegal actions were reported. And in order to prevent such_____application and a request and for the protection of individual and personal information, and in order to respond to such a situation, the family registration law was revised. And the requirement for making requests was made stricter. Identification of the person requesting a person, and the stricter punishment was put into the law against those who violate the law. And in practice as well, the actions are taken so that this law can be carried out properly. And my colleague will make an additional comment.

Mr. Ogawa (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Ogawa from the Ministry of Justice. Mr. Diaconu and Mr. De Gouttes, I believe the intent of your questions are on the Dowa question that not necessarily the present measures may not be satisfactory or adequate enough that may be included in your questions so allow me to give some supplementary explanation. Earlier on, Ms. Shino from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already explained. Under the Ministry of Justice human rights organs for the human rights issues including the Dowa question for the human rights counseling as well as human rights encouragement we have taken remedial measures, relief measures. With that said, however, as for the measures of the government is not limited to these alone. In the list of questions paragraph 4, the government of Japan has given a response which alludes to the following. The Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, and other relevant ministries are competent in the different categories of administration and under their own competence various measures are undertaken. For example, earlier, Mr. Avtonomov has pointed out that for the employers, awareness of the Dowa question may be problematic. Now, at the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, for employment, in the employment screening done by the business corporations, the basic human rights of the applicants are being respected. And to prevent any discrimination over employment, the ability of the applicants are to be ____and the fair screening should be made for employment. And guidance and education are given to employers to make this a reality. Based upon the spirit as given in the preamble of the ICERD, for any discrimination including the Dowa question, in order to create a society without any discrimination is something that we are always striving to aim for. Thank you.

Mr. Otani (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

Next, the criminal procedure in relation to racially motivated acts. My name is Otani with the Ministry of Justice. Article 4 of the ICERD in relation to that racially motivated action there was some reference in the comments. With regard to that, as the official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs I mentioned, I just would like to make an additional comment for clarification from the viewpoint of the Ministry of Justice. As was captured in a statement given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, if the prime objective was motivated racially and the motive is considered malicious, therefore in the legal process, and if it is proved, in that case the judge, in the process of sentencing, will take that into consideration as an important factor. And such appropriate treatment is given in that regard. Thank you.

Lastly, to the question from Mr. Prosper, on the relationship with ICC and the genocide convention, unfortunately, we have come for the review of the ICERD, so we were not anticipating a satisfactory answer which would be fitting to such questions coming from their profound knowledge as held by the distinguished member, so I have to say that we have no knowledge over and above what we have already mentioned earlier. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

As you know, my predecessor for ambassador for human rights was Mrs. Saiga, who became an ICC judge later on, but unfortunately she passed away, and succeeding her, a new lady judge from Japan is now in ICC…Ozaki-san, Ms. Ozaki is now in ICC.  You know, of course our sincere approach to this question.  Mr. Chairperson, thank you very much.  I think our side tried to answer questions raised by the members of the Committee so far as much as possible.  So this is…if I have something to say…I think I said so far, enough.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you very much for your responses and the fact that we have a little time is indicative of the to the point responses that the delegation gave us and I saw no evidence of filibustering or trying to drag the answers. So members had the opportunity to ask as many questions as they wished, and does somebody wish to speak, Madame Dah or Mr. De Gouttes? Mr. Lindgren, would you like to say something before I give the floor to our rapporteur for his preliminary summing up?

Mr. Lindgren

Thank you Mr. Chairman it’s just a point of clarification. Of course I appreciate very much all the replies that were given to us by the Japanese delegation. But my original doubt concerning the Burakumin still remains. What are the Burakumin. If they speak the same language, if they speak Japanese, if they don’t have religious origins, what makes them different from the average Japanese? This is just a question that I want to make. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

There are no difference at all. No difference at all. They are us. Like us. I mean, we. We are the same. No difference at all. So you can’t identify. Unless you say I’m from Ile-de-France, I’m from Provence. And this he says.

Ms. Shino (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

I think this is something we mentioned in the previous examination that the Dowa policy, the council, came out with a report in 1965, and in that report the Dowa problems was the outcome of the class system that was borne out of the feudal system and it is a social problem. However, in recent years, with regard to the origin of the Buraku problems, there was a review of these problems being dated back to the Edo period, so it is rather difficult for us why the Buraku problem emerged, and who should be considered as a Burakumin or Buraku people. So the situation is very complicated, therefore, that was the comment that we made in the previous examination session, that we did not have more information that___provided to you at this point in time.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you for your responses. And I have two more requests from the floor. Mr. Diaconu, followed by Mr. De Gouttes.

Mr. Diaconu

Thank you Mr. Chairman. And I am sorry for taking the floor for the third time. I’m interested to know as much as possible and to see as much as possible progress from the part of the state party because Japan is a big country, is a developed country, and we are waiting from Japan a lot of positive developments in the Asian space and in the world as such. Now, our preoccupation in this committee and according to our convention is that each and every person is protected against racial discrimination. And each and every group is protected. And this is let’s say these are the words of our Convention.

Now, you are telling us that there are no difference between the Buraku and the others, but they say that there is a difference. They say to us and according to sources we have they say that they have a different culture and a different language. Let’s clarify this issue and the way to clarify this issue is through consultations with them, with their representatives. Mr. Ambassador, you are telling us that there is no difference between you and them. Looking at them you, cannot distinguish them, but it happens in many countries. You cannot distinguish them according to physical features to the way they look but when you look more precisely into their culture, into their language, into their traditions, you will find distinctions. We don’t want to create groups where there are no groups. We don’t want to defend dead cultures or dead languages. No. But we want to preserve whatever is of interest for a group for a significant group of people. And it seems there is a significant group of people which wants to preserve their culture and their traditions and their language. So this is important this is important for us, I think it should be important also for the country. It is your richness, it is part of your richness, as tradition, as culture, as history. This is our preoccupation, and I think that the lady from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started giving us an interesting answer. She says the Buraku issue is a social problem. It comes from the feudal times. Okay. But that is what we want to hear about. It comes from the feudal times. Now, we want to know how much this social problem, coming from the caste system, has developed into an ethnic issue, into a differential group, culturally different group. How much remnants of that system of caste system are still in the Japanese society because if they are then you have to deal with them. And Japan has to deal with them under our convention. If this group is different you have to include it either as a minority group, either as an ethic group, or an indigenous group. You cannot say they do not exist. No, they are there. They are there, and they are citizens of Japan. So this is a comment that I wanted to make on this issue. This remains, I understand this remains an issue to be considered by the government and by ourselves, taking into account answers we could receive from the government on this issue, from all points of view, not only just, let’s see an interpretation of the text of article 1 and the travaux préparatoires, no. We want some data from the inside, from this group about this group of population. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Mr. De Gouttes (mistake?), I’d just like to mention there is a distinction between caste and ethnicity. You have one ethnicity and in that ethnicity there may be several castes. Mr. De Gouttes, you have…

Mr. De Gouttes

Thank you Chairman. I am a French expert but not of Provence origin. And I think the delegation did remind us that all countries have problems, specific issues affecting their populations, and that’s quite clear. I don’t think any country is exempt from questions and problems about its population. And I think that’s what’s so valuable in having this sort of forum, having an open direct dialogue which shows differences in approach between one delegation and our committee. But we are not judges. We’ve said this often. We’re a cooperation and dialogue body. What we hope to do through considering states parties reports is to see evolution, to see changes, progress made, with a view to ensuring full compliance with our convention, and I think that’s the benefit of a committee such as ours to have a dialogue to ensure compliance with our convention. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

My understanding of his Excellency’s intervention was that ethnically this group is Japanese, and this is the way I understood him, and in that spirit I took his intervention. So at this stage I would like to give the floor to our distinguished rapporteur who happens also to be… who has a very rich experience, he’s a scholar on indigenous people, so we can benefit from his summing up.

Mr. Thornberry

Thank you for kind words, chairman, and again I thank the delegation warmly for a generally interactive dialogue that you’ve provided a detailed account of your position in response to our many questions. And a large delegation came to visit the committee on this occasion which we are very grateful for. The remarks are personal. These are not necessarily shared by the whole committee though I will try to recall some of the consensus committee position on some matters. There was a huge range of issues raised.

And also in your responses today beginning with the question of the Ainu as an indigenous people which I think I said yesterday that recognition is the first step, there are many steps that must follow and certainly one of the key things in all of this process of engagement with indigenous rights and indeed with other groups is the question of participation and consultation.

The Okinawa situation was also raised and you’ve made your position very clear but nevertheless colleagues have proposed and urged a wider degree of consultation perhaps on this question without necessarily getting into technical arguments on description of status but certainly consultation with representatives would be welcome.

We had a lot of discussion on issues like education of minority groups and many issues were clarified, and discussions____of public schools and private schools. I must say that the public schools maybe we didn’t develop this point today, possibly demonstrate an insufficiently flexible curriculum in terms of ethnic diversity including for Japanese citizens, and this may of course encourage others to maintain systems outside the public school system. That’s just an impression that I have. But anyway, I think I’ve heard references today on the need for policy study and welcome this.

We’ve had discussions on education, Internet questions, article 4, the names issue, refugees, the question of the law on racial discrimination, and issues to deal with our convention including article 14 and amendment article 8. Those are just some of the issues.

And also the very interesting question raised by Mr. Prosper on the relationship between the Genocide Convention and the statute of the International Criminal Court. I did flag that one up yesterday but did not develop it as Mr. Prosper has done so very interestingly today.

These are the kind of things that will figure, I can’t speak for the committee in advance, but we will have to draw up our concluding observations on the basis of issues raised.

We have a certain broad agreement in some respects, including the importance of eliminating racial discrimination as far as humanly possible, and the importance of education against discrimination in this. We’ve had agreement also on the status of the Ainu, on the spirit of the convention, and I noticed a certain direction of movement as regards national human rights institution.

But certainly there are areas that the committee would probably recommend for further reflection. On the Buraku question, for example, we note your willingness to transcend the rather technical argument about the interpretation of the term descent in light of the spirit of the convention. We may not be in a position to agree on the interpretative matter, but we have our own position on that which has been developed in the committee over many years and is indeed acceptable to most states.

The nature of human rights education is something that perhaps we welcome the importance you give to education. We wonder sometimes and certainly I wonder if it has an adequate diversity component to what extent it includes the rights of specific groups. I’m not raising a whole lot of new questions now it’s just something that occurred to me.

It looks like we’re going to maintain respective differences on reservations, though the committee always invites states to seriously examine whether a reservation is needed and if possible minimize its scope or eliminate it. We note nevertheless that on issues like voting rights for foreigners, that certain matters are in progress. We disagree on this business about a law on racial discrimination, basically I think because you do not see a current necessity here, I’ll come to that in a moment, so we diverge I think even on issues to do with the names question and registration registers, we diverge on many issues.

But nevertheless, on some of the broader matters, there is at least a convergence of spirit if not necessarily in all of the details. In the committee’s view, the convention is something that has a fairly long reach, it reaches down, and this makes it difficult for states parties as I said yesterday it’s not simply about the state administration. It goes down to responsibility for the acts of persons, groups, and organizations and reaches deep down into social mores, including the conduct of private persons, and the committee has always insisted strongly that laws as such are not enough and there must be implementation to fulfill the obligations properly under the convention.

As colleagues have intimated I think very clearly there has always been care and concern for particular vulnerable groups, and although the convention does not use the term minority or indigenous people, inevitably, these are the groups that we have been concerned with a great deal because they are the natural focus of oppression. Majority populations or mainstream populations don’t necessarily have the need for the kinds of protection that minorities have, although in some cases there are issues about a majorities which have come before the committee.

And I think we always hope to unblock situations, to assist the state party to open thinking a little on these matters and discourage too much rigidity of positions based perhaps on legal considerations which might regard any intrusion of international standards as a kind of intrusion into domestic affairs. I think that kind of position, it is an exercise of sovereignty to ratify a convention like this, and it is not in any way a diminution of sovereignty and one would always hope state-by-state for a greater and broader embracing of letter and spirit of international norms bearing in mind the duty of this committee also which in a sense acts as a kind of ____of states and always has done to avoid the situation where states themselves get into mutual criticism so that is how I see the function of a committee like this.

The committee has taken very clear positions over the years I think I can at least say that on structural and substantial questions on respectful diversity of situations. Sometimes we are presented with a rather homogenizing approach for example to the idea of equality, but if there are different situations being treated by the same norm as it were, that’s not equality that’s inequality. One always has to have respect for history, tradition, culture, vulnerability, which makes a simple uniform application of norms not always appropriate, though of course we should always be aware of our commonalities as well as issues of diversity. We deal a lot with groups, and we privilege the notion of self definition. We argue for the need for laws against racial discrimination. We argue for control within the parameters of the convention of hate speech, we argue the need for remedies, and we argue the need for education which I think the state party clearly shares.

Education of groups including cultural and linguistic dimensions. Education, I think as Mr. Diaconu said yesterday, of the general population in matters to do with racial discrimination and tolerance and education of officials including those in this case perhaps in most regular contact in one way or another with non-Japanese. Now this is a large program for states, and of course we will look at evidence of responses when we come to your next report we will shorten the time lag I think by suggesting three or four issues for rather immediate follow-up.

If I can just give a couple of very broad points to conclude with, in the drafting of the convention, it was fairly clear and I have studied the travaux of the convention fairly extensively, there was a widespread feeling that racial discrimination applied only in a few places in the world. That it was not in fact a global phenomenon and truthfully it may also be the case that many states signed up to it on the supposition that it was never really going to affect them domestically. It would always be a matter of foreign policy. But I think the committee has demonstrated over the years that it is a global issue. It affects all states, of course in its details it has nuances of difference, but I think one of the functions of this committee and the convention is to see the commonalities so that we can actually see in what way the issues relate to the international norms and make appropriate recommendations on that basis.

Going back to what I said yesterday, and your response, I feel sometimes that if the international community had accepted the Japanese__at the time of the League of Nations we might have got to this realization a little bit earlier than we did… it’s a fairly recent understanding.

And in responding to the convention, just to conclude, that a number of steps, first of all, I think that awareness raising is very very important.

And a number of your responses today make the point that law is not needed in current circumstances. I think my immediate worry about that is that your information and statistical base in particular may not be entirely adequate to support that proposition. And I certainly think that the civil society will make its point clear, but that more study is required.

Education is also important and you have stressed education greatly, but again, if I may go back to the drafting of the convention, a number of countries insisted very strongly that education was the way forward. Others were equally determined to show that education itself was excellent but not enough and that the passing of laws itself has an educative value for the population. So following awareness raising then we get to re-organization in some cases quite drastic and basic legal structures and then to implementation in good faith of the convention.

All we can do a conclusion as to hope that the convention and the committee can assist in consolidation of process and direction and be a channel through which the good intentions of the state can flow. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Thornberry. We have come to the end of our discussion, a most interesting discussion it was, on Japan, and I think we have learned from each other and the future generation is here with us and I’m sure that under their leadership in the years to come, we will make greater progress in understanding each other and this exchange will lead all of you to reflect on the great diversity in our world and yet the similarity that we are all humans and we all originated, they now tell us – the scientists – we originated from a very small region of Africa and spread all over the world, I found it difficult to believe but after I read about it in depth, I realized this is a fact, a scientific fact, so thank you very much, and Excellency, and thank you Mr. Rapporteur of course for your excellent summing up, and distinguished members for your rich questions. Excellency, I think if you would like to say something at this stage, I would like to give you the floor.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, on behalf of the Japanese delegation I express sincere appreciation to your support and your very constructive comments. We will try to of course wait your final comment but in the meantime we will of course study and learn what you have said this occasion and of course if possible, we will try to take up your recommendations and try to sort of proceed farther to the future.

Taking this opportunity also, I’d like to express our appreciation to our NGO groups who attended, I mean who are present here, from Japan, together with as was explained by Ms. Shino, government side also of course appreciate their contribution, and we had a constructive consultations back home and we will have also continue this kind of consultations, exchange of views back home for the better implementation of this convention.

Once again, I’d like to express our sincere appreciation to all members of the committee and also the Secretariat staff who helped us very much.

And of course the interpreters who did a great job and also there are Japanese press present, and I think they will cover our activity to Japan and not only to Japan, but to all over the world, how we are working rigorously and how we are sort of effectively exchanged views.

In conclusion, I personally had a very good sort of a learning during this session. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you, Excellency Ueda, and that brings us to the conclusion of the session. Thank you very much, and to the delegation of Japan, those of you who are going across the ocean, I wish you a safe and happy journey and maybe we will see you at some later session. This meeting is concluded.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you very much.


[1]

Committee members:

Nourredine Amir (Algeria); Alexei Avtonomov (Russian Federation); Jose Francisco Cali Tzay (Guatemala); Anastasia Crickley (Ireland); Fatima-Binta Victoire Dah (Burkina Faso); Régis de Gouttes (France); Ion Diaconu (Romania); Kokou Mawuena Ika Kana (Dieudonné) Ewomsan (Togo); Huang Yong’an (China); Anwar Kemal (Pakistan) (Chairperson); Dilip Lahiri (India); Gün Kut (Turkey); José Augusto Lindgren Alves (Brazil); Pastor Elias Murillo Martinez (Colombia); Chris Maina Peter (Tanzania); Pierre-Richard Prosper (United States); Walilakoye Saidou (Niger); and Patrick Thornberry (United Kingdom)

Japanese government delegation members:

Hideaki Ueda (Ambassador in charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, MOFA); Kenichi Suganuma (Ambassador, Permanent Mission to Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Kazumi Akiyama (Councilor, Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department, Cabinet Secretariat); Akira Honda (Official, Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department, Cabinet Secretariat); Yumi Aono (Director, Office of International Affiars, Secretarial Division, MOJ); Junichiro Otani (Attorney, Criminal Affairs Bureau, MOF); Akira Ogawa (Human Rights Bureau, MOJ); Yukinori Ehara (Assistant to the Director, Human Rights Promotion Division, Human Rights Bureau, MOJ); Naomi Hirota (Section Chief, Office of International Affairs, Secretarial Division, MOJ); Yuki Yamaguchi (Official, International Affairs Division, Criminal Affairs Bureau, MOJ); Mitsuko Shino (Director, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, MOFA); Junko Irie (Attorney, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, MOFA); Shiho Yoshioka (Researcher, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, MOFA); Kanako Konishi (Official, International Affairs Division, MEXT); Junya Hoshida (Deputy Director, International Affairs Division, Minister’s Secretariat, MHLW); Akio Isomata (Minister, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Yuji Yamamoto (Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Akira Matsumoto (First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Mirai Maruo (Attache, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva)

UNHCHR CERD Recommendation 30 (2004): UN says Non-citizens equally protected under treaty and domestic law as citizens

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here’s a valuable document I unearthed when doing research yesterday.  One of the major arguments put forth by nativists seeking to justify discrimination against minorities (or rather, against foreigners in any society) is the argument that foreigners, since they are not citizens, ipso facto don’t have the same rights as citizens, including domestic protections against discrimination.  The GOJ has specifically argued this to the United Nations in the past, repeatedly (see for example GOJ 1999, page down to Introduction, section 3).  However, the UN, in a clarification of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has made it clear that non-citizens are supposed to be afforded the same protections under the CERD as citizens.  To quote the most clear and concise bit:

II. Measures of a general nature

7. Ensure that legislative guarantees against racial discrimination apply to non-citizens regardless of their immigration status, and that the implementation of legislation does not have a discriminatory effect on non-citizens;

This was issued way back in 2004.  I’m reading a transcript of the discussions between the GOJ and the CERD Committee review during their review Feb 24-25 2010 (in which it was referred, and even mentioned granting foreigners suffrage not beyond the pale of rights to be granted).  I’ll have the full text of that up on Debito.org tomorrow with some highlighting.  Meanwhile, enjoy this gem.  Something else for the GOJ to ignore.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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UNITED NATIONS

General Recommendation No.30: Discrimination Against Non Citizens : . 01/10/2004.
Gen. Rec. No. 30. (General Comments)

Convention Abbreviation: CERD
General Recommendation XXX
Discrimination Against Non Citizens

http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/0/e3980a673769e229c1256f8d0057cd3d?Opendocument

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,

Recalling the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to which all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and are entitled to the rights and freedoms enshrined therein without distinction of any kind, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,

Recalling the Durban Declaration in which the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, recognized that xenophobia against non-nationals, particularly migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, constitutes one of the main sources of contemporary racism and that human rights violations against members of such groups occur widely in the context of discriminatory, xenophobic and racist practices,

Noting that, based on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and general recommendations XI and XX, it has become evident from the examination of the reports of States parties to the Convention that groups other than migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers are also of concern, including undocumented non-citizens and persons who cannot establish the nationality of the State on whose territory they live, even where such persons have lived all their lives on the same territory,

Having organized a thematic discussion on the issue of discrimination against non-citizens and received the contributions of members of the Committee and States parties, as well as contributions from experts of other United Nations organs and specialized agencies and from non-governmental organizations,

Recognizing the need to clarify the responsibilities of States parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination with regard to non-citizens,

Basing its action on the provisions of the Convention, in particular article 5, which requires States parties to prohibit and eliminate discrimination based on race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin in the enjoyment by all persons of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and freedoms,

Affirms that:

I. Responsibilities of States parties to the Convention

1. Article 1, paragraph 1, of the Convention defines racial discrimination. Article 1, paragraph 2 provides for the possibility of differentiating between citizens and non-citizens. Article 1, paragraph 3 declares that, concerning nationality, citizenship or naturalization, the legal provisions of States parties must not discriminate against any particular nationality;

2. Article 1, paragraph 2, must be construed so as to avoid undermining the basic prohibition of discrimination; hence, it should not be interpreted to detract in any way from the rights and freedoms recognized and enunciated in particular in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

3. Article 5 of the Convention incorporates the obligation of States parties to prohibit and eliminate racial discrimination in the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Although some of these rights, such as the right to participate in elections, to vote and to stand for election, may be confined to citizens, human rights are, in principle, to be enjoyed by all persons. States parties are under an obligation to guarantee equality between citizens and non-citizens in the enjoyment of these rights to the extent recognized under international law;

4. Under the Convention, differential treatment based on citizenship or immigration status will constitute discrimination if the criteria for such differentiation, judged in the light of the objectives and purposes of the Convention, are not applied pursuant to a legitimate aim, and are not proportional to the achievement of this aim. Differentiation within the scope of article 1, paragraph 4, of the Convention relating to special measures is not considered discriminatory;

5. States parties are under an obligation to report fully upon legislation on non-citizens and its implementation. Furthermore, States parties should include in their periodic reports, in an appropriate form, socio-economic data on the non-citizen population within their jurisdiction, including data disaggregated by gender and national or ethnic origin;

Recommends,

Based on these general principles, that the States parties to the Convention, as appropriate to their specific circumstances, adopt the following measures:

II. Measures of a general nature

6. Review and revise legislation, as appropriate, in order to guarantee that such legislation is in full compliance with the Convention, in particular regarding the effective enjoyment of the rights mentioned in article 5, without discrimination;

7. Ensure that legislative guarantees against racial discrimination apply to non-citizens regardless of their immigration status, and that the implementation of legislation does not have a discriminatory effect on non-citizens;

8. Pay greater attention to the issue of multiple discrimination faced by non-citizens, in particular concerning the children and spouses of non-citizen workers, to refrain from applying different standards of treatment to female non-citizen spouses of citizens and male non-citizen spouses of citizens, to report on any such practices and to take all necessary steps to address them;

9. Ensure that immigration policies do not have the effect of discriminating against persons on the basis of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin;

10. Ensure that any measures taken in the fight against terrorism do not discriminate, in purpose or effect, on the grounds of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin and that non-citizens are not subjected to racial or ethnic profiling or stereotyping;

III. Protection against hate speech and racial violence

11. Take steps to address xenophobic attitudes and behaviour towards non-citizens, in particular hate speech and racial violence, and to promote a better understanding of the principle of non-discrimination in respect of the situation of non-citizens;

12. Take resolute action to counter any tendency to target, stigmatize, stereotype or profile, on the basis of race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin, members of “non-citizen” population groups, especially by politicians, officials, educators and the media, on the Internet and other electronic communications networks and in society at large;

IV. Access to citizenship

13. Ensure that particular groups of non-citizens are not discriminated against with regard to access to citizenship or naturalization, and to pay due attention to possible barriers to naturalization that may exist for long-term or permanent residents;

14. Recognize that deprivation of citizenship on the basis of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin is a breach of States parties’ obligations to ensure non-discriminatory enjoyment of the right to nationality;

15. Take into consideration that in some cases denial of citizenship for long-term or permanent residents could result in creating disadvantage for them in access to employment and social benefits, in violation of the Convention’s anti-discrimination principles;

16. Reduce statelessness, in particular statelessness among children, by, for example, encouraging their parents to apply for citizenship on their behalf and allowing both parents to transmit their citizenship to their children;

17. Regularize the status of former citizens of predecessor States who now reside within the jurisdiction of the State party;

V. Administration of justice

18. Ensure that non-citizens enjoy equal protection and recognition before the law and in this context, to take action against racially motivated violence and to ensure the access of victims to effective legal remedies and the right to seek just and adequate reparation for any damage suffered as a result of such violence;
19. Ensure the security of non-citizens, in particular with regard to arbitrary detention, as well as ensure that conditions in centres for refugees and asylum-seekers meet international standards;

20. Ensure that non-citizens detained or arrested in the fight against terrorism are properly protected by domestic law that complies with international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law;

21. Combat ill-treatment of and discrimination against non-citizens by police and other law enforcement agencies and civil servants by strictly applying relevant legislation and regulations providing for sanctions and by ensuring that all officials dealing with non-citizens receive special training, including training in human rights;

22. Introduce in criminal law the provision that committing an offence with racist motivation or aim constitutes an aggravating circumstance allowing for a more severe punishment;

23. Ensure that claims of racial discrimination brought by non-citizens are investigated thoroughly and that claims made against officials, notably those concerning discriminatory or racist behaviour, are subject to independent and effective scrutiny;

24. Regulate the burden of proof in civil proceedings involving discrimination based on race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin so that once a non-citizen has established a prima facie case that he or she has been a victim of such discrimination, it shall be for the respondent to provide evidence of an objective and reasonable justification for the differential treatment;

VI. Expulsion and deportation of non-citizens

25. Ensure that laws concerning deportation or other forms of removal of non-citizens from the jurisdiction of the State party do not discriminate in purpose or effect among non-citizens on the basis of race, colour or ethnic or national origin, and that non-citizens have equal access to effective remedies, including the right to challenge expulsion orders, and are allowed effectively to pursue such remedies;
26. Ensure that non-citizens are not subject to collective expulsion, in particular in situations where there are insufficient guarantees that the personal circumstances of each of the persons concerned have been taken into account;

27. Ensure that non-citizens are not returned or removed to a country or territory where they are at risk of being subject to serious human rights abuses, including torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

28. Avoid expulsions of non-citizens, especially of long-term residents, that would result in disproportionate interference with the right to family life;

VII. Economic, social and cultural rights

29. Remove obstacles that prevent the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by non-citizens, notably in the areas of education, housing, employment and health;
30. Ensure that public educational institutions are open to non-citizens and children of undocumented immigrants residing in the territory of a State party;

31. Avoid segregated schooling and different standards of treatment being applied to non-citizens on grounds of race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin in elementary and secondary school and with respect to access to higher education;

32. Guarantee the equal enjoyment of the right to adequate housing for citizens and non-citizens, especially by avoiding segregation in housing and ensuring that housing agencies refrain from engaging in discriminatory practices;

33. Take measures to eliminate discrimination against non-citizens in relation to working conditions and work requirements, including employment rules and practices with discriminatory purposes or effects;

34. Take effective measures to prevent and redress the serious problems commonly faced by non-citizen workers, in particular by non-citizen domestic workers, including debt bondage, passport retention, illegal confinement, rape and physical assault;

35. Recognize that, while States parties may refuse to offer jobs to non-citizens without a work permit, all individuals are entitled to the enjoyment of labour and employment rights, including the freedom of assembly and association, once an employment relationship has been initiated until it is terminated;

36. Ensure that States parties respect the right of non-citizens to an adequate standard of physical and mental health by, inter alia, refraining from denying or limiting their access to preventive, curative and palliative health services;

37. Take the necessary measures to prevent practices that deny non-citizens their cultural identity, such as legal or de facto requirements that non-citizens change their name in order to obtain citizenship, and to take measures to enable non-citizens to preserve and develop their culture;

38. Ensure the right of non-citizens, without discrimination based on race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin, to have access to any place or service intended for use by the general public, such as transport, hotels, restaurants, cafés, theatres and parks;

39. The present general recommendation replaces general recommendation XI (1993).

©1996-2001
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Geneva, Switzerland

ENDS

Kyodo: GOJ criticized by UN CERD (once again) for inaction towards racial discrim; GOJ stresses “discrim not rampant”

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Here we have some preliminary reports coming out of Geneva regarding the UN CERD Committee’s review of Japan’s human rights record vis-a-vis racial discrimination. We have the GOJ claiming no “rampant discrimination”, and stressing that we still need no law against RD for the same old reasons. This despite the rampant discrimination that NGOs are pointing out in independent reports. Read on. And if people find other articles with interesting tacks (the second Kyodo version in the JT below feels decidedly muted), please include whole text with link in the Comments Section below. Thanks. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

///////////////////////////////////////////

Japan disputes racism allegations at U.N. panel
Feb 25 2010 The Associated Press

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9E38OV00&show_article=1

GENEVA, Feb. 25 (AP) – (Kyodo)—Japan does not need laws to combat racial discrimination, a Japanese official said Thursday as Japan’s racism record was examined by the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

“Punitive legislation on racial discrimination may hamper legitimate discourse,” Mitsuko Shino of the Japanese Foreign Ministry told a session in Geneva. “And I don’t think the situation in Japan is one of rampant discrimination, so we will not be examining this now.”

The review, the first since 2001, is a required procedure for countries signatory to the 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Japan ratified in December 1995.

It is conducted by a committee composed of 18 legal experts who act in their professional capacity.

Fourteen Japanese government officials from five ministries, headed by Ambassador in charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Hideaki Ueda, spent the morning answering questions about Japanese legislation and practices to fight racism and protect minority rights.

The committee was critical of the lack of antidiscrimination legislation in Japan, and the treatment of Japanese minorities and its large Korean and Chinese communities.

Prior to the start of the review on Wednesday, Japanese nongovernmental organizations presented to the committee issues they wanted raised.

They showed a video of a group of Japanese nationalist protesters waving flags and protesting in front of a North Korean school in Kyoto Prefecture, shouting phrases such as “This is a North Korean spy training center!”

An official of Japan’s Justice Ministry said such behavior could be explained as a reaction to “intermittent nuclear and missile tests” by North Korea, although any consequent human right violations were investigated.

Many committee members asked questions about the Okinawan population, some groups of which are fighting to obtain recognition as an indigenous population.

“There is no clear definition of an indigenous people, even in the U.N. declaration,” Ueda said. “But Okinawan people are Japanese, and their language is the Japanese language,” he said.

Concerns were also expressed by committee members about the treatment of descendants of people in discriminated communities called “buraku.”

Committee members admitted they had difficulty understanding whether they were a caste, or a separate ethnic group.

“What makes them different from the average Japanese?” committee member Jose Augusto Lindgren Alves asked.

“There are no differences at all, they are like us, we are the same,” Ueda answered.

Other questions raised included educational opportunities for students of non-Japanese schools, and reports that some individuals had to change their last name to a pre-approved Kanji when obtaining Japanese citizenship.

Foreign schools in Japan get tax credits and subsidies, a delegate from the Education Ministry said, and students from many, especially Korean, schools had access to Japanese universities.

Counselors are available for foreign students joining Japanese schools, the delegate added.

On the name-change allegation, “in order not to create inconvenience in their social life, it would be better to pick an easier to use character,” a member of the Justice Ministry said. “But you can also use hiragana and katakana.”

After the review, Ralph Hosoki of the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, one of the NGOs, told Kyodo News, “The government only regurgitates what’s already in place…There is no imaginative dialogue to work towards concrete changes.”

In concluding remarks, committee member Patrick Thornberry said, “A lot of the responses are that you do not need legislation…My concern is that your information…may not be proper to make such a conclusion.”
ENDS

//////////////////////////////////////////////

The Japan Times, Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
Japan faces U.N. racism criticism

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100226a4.html

GENEVA (Kyodo) Japan’s record on racism has improved, but there is still room for progress, according to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

“We heard today much that is good and positive, but I think a deepened engagement would be welcomed and necessary,” Patrick Thornberry, the member of the committee responsible for Japan’s review, said Wednesday.

The review, the first for Japan since 2001, is required of signatory countries to the 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Japan ratified in December 1995.

Fourteen Japanese officials from five ministries, headed by Ambassador in Charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Hideaki Ueda, flew from Japan to field questions and comments from the committee of 18 legal experts.

Thornberry particularly criticized Japan’s lack of laws to combat hate speech, saying “in international law, freedom of expression is not unlimited.”

The convention commits states to fight racial discrimination by taking such steps as restricting racist speech and criminalizing membership in racist organizations. Japan has expressed reservations about some of the provisions, which it says go against its commitment to freedom of expression and assembly.

Prior to the review, Japanese nongovernmental organizations presented various examples they say highlight the need for legislative action to fight racism in their country.

“There seems to have been little progress since 2001,” when the last review was held, committee member Regis de Gouttes said. “There is no new legislation, even though in 2001 the committee said prohibiting hate speech is compatible with freedom of expression.”

Committee members also criticized the treatment of certain segments of society, such as the “burakumin” (descendants of Japan’s former outcast class), and the people of Okinawa.

“The ‘buraku’ situation is a form of racial discrimination,” committee member Fatimata-Binta Victoire Dah said. “It is frighteningly similar to the caste system in Africa.”

Many members of the committee, however, praised the government’s recent recognition of the Ainu as an indigenous people.

But there was also criticism of the treatment of Chinese and Korean nationals, in matters ranging from the lack of accreditation of their schools, to the necessity, at times, for them to change their names when they obtain Japanese citizenship.

The NGOs, before the review, showed the committee members a video of a group of nationalists waving flags and protesting aggressively in front of a North Korean school in Kyoto Prefecture, shouting phrases such as “This is a North Korean spy training center!”

“Why are these children guilty of what North Korea is doing?” committee member Ion Diaconu asked.

Some members of the committee also expressed concern that such schools did not receive any government funding at a time when the government is considering removing tuition fees for public high schools.
ENDS

======================================

Feedback from a Debito.org Reader, who cced me in this letter yesterday to a UN official, disputing the lack of “rampant discrimination”. Forwarding:

Dear Gabriella,

I am writing this email in the hope that it will find Mr. Patrick
Thornberry as he is conducting a review on Japan’s Elimination of Racial
Discrimination. I read briefly of the review on the Japan Times website
(URL below).

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100226a4.html

I am concerned that a very important human right is not being protected
in Japan. I am referring to the child’s right to an education. In Japan,
the child’s right to an education is ensured by law. Students must
attend school as compulsory education until they graduate from junior
high school. However, this legislation is only applicable to Japanese
citizens. Non-Japanese do not have the same rights/obligations regarding
education and this violates the right of the non-Japanese to an
education.

I direct your attention to the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989.

CHAPTER IV
HUMAN RIGHTS
11 . Convention on the Rights of the Child
New York, 20 November 1989

Apparently, Japan became a signatory on 21 Sep 1990 and ratified it on
22 Apr 1994. However, practice in Japan does not appear to be in line
with the articles of the convention. Specifically article 3 and article 28.

——-
Article 28
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and
with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of
equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:

(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all»

(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary
education, including general and vocational education, make them
available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures
such as the introduction of free education and offering financial
assistance in case of need;

——-

In Japan, education until Junior high school is compulsory for Japanese
students only. For non-Japanese it would appear that the legislation
provides compulsory primary education only. In reality, this is not
ensured. There are many families whose children are not enrolled in any
part of the Japanese education system. Some cite the language barrier as
problem with sending their children to a Japanese school. Education is
not “available to all”. This leads to some students being enrolled in
“schools” that are not required to comply with any standards. This leads
to a conflict in Article 3.

——-
Article 3 Paragraph 3
3. States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and
facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall
conform with the standards established by competent authorities,
particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and
suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision.

——-

There are thousands of Brazilian families living and working in Shizuoka
Prefecture. Many of these families send their children to “Brazilian
schools” that do NOT conform with the standards of Japanese schools. In
fact, many of these so-called schools have no standards with which they
have to comply.

On the other hand, Japanese students have access to compulsory,
standards-compliant education until the end of junior high school.
Non-Japanese children are being discriminated against to the point that
their universal and inalienable right to a quality education is not
being protected.

Enforcing compulsory education in Japan is necessary. Japan may not have
the multilingual schools that would be ideal but a standards compliant
education is better than what these children get now which is either a
non-standards compliant education or no education at all. Enforcing
compulsory education would surely see the current situation improve.

In the news article I cited at the beginning of this email there was no
mention to this issue. That leaves me with my sole question, is
eliminating hate speech really more important to the UN than children’s
education?

AUTHOR’S NAME WITHHELD UPON REQUEST
ends

///////////////////////////////////////////

UPDATE.  RESPONSE FROM UNITED NATIONS

——- Forwarded Message ——–
From: Harumi Fuentes
Cc: Gabriella Habtom , sthodiyil@ohchr.org,
p.thornberry@keele.ac.uk
Subject: Re: Fw: JAPAN – U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2010 11:10:06 +0100

Dear Mr. (anonymized),

In response to your email, the Committee is in charge of monitoring
the implementation of the Convention for all the persons under the
jurisdiction of the State party and the right to education is covered.
Please rest assured that despite what reports or news articles may
write or omit, the issue of education was addressed extensively by the
Committee. In fact, going over the summary record, I’d like to inform
you that education, including Peruvian and Brazilian schools and
miscellaneous schools, was taken up by almost all the members of the
Committee and discussed in length with the State party.

We appreciate the useful information you provided on legislation on
compulsory education for Japanese and non-nationals and thank you for
your interest in the work of the Committee.

Best regards,
Harumi Fuentes

Harumi Fuentes Furuya (Ms.)
Associate Human Rights Officer

Human Rights Council and Treaties Division
OHCHR-Palais Wilson 1-075
tel. +41-22-917 9699
hfuentes@ohchr.org
wwww.ohchr.org
END

SMJ/NGO combined report for UN CERD Committee regarding Japan’s human rights record

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog.  Double feature for today:  The Government of Japan comes under review this month in Geneva by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. I was invited to submit a chapter for a report to the UN by the NGO Solidarity with Migrants Japan (SMJ) on how Japan is doing with enforcing it.  As I conclude:

“In conclusion, the situation is that in Japan, racial discrimination remains unconstitutional and unlawful under the ICERD, yet not illegal. Japan has had more than a decade since 1996 to pass a criminal law against RD. Its failure to do so can only be interpreted as a clear violation of ICERD Article 2(1): “States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay [emphasis added] a policy of eliminating racial discrimination.” We urge the Committee to make the appropriate advisements to the Japanese government to pass a law against racial discrimination without any further delay.”

Full text below (mine is chapter two), sans photos of “Japanese Only” signs.  You can download the report in its entirety (including signs) as a Word file from:

http://www.debito.org/SMJCERDreport2010.doc

Enjoy.  Let’s see how the UN and GOJ respond.  Here’s how the GOJ responded in 2008 — read and guffaw at their claim that they have taken “every conceivable measure to fight against  racial discrimination”.  Arudou Debito in Calgary

////////////////////////////////////////////////

NGO Report Regarding the Rights of Non-Japanese Nationals, Minorities of Foreign Origins, and Refugees in Japan
Prepared for the

76th United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Session

Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)
February 2010
Compiled and published by: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)

Edited by: Ralph Hosoki (assisted by Nobuyuki Sato and Masataka Okamoto)

Address: Tomisaka Christian Center 2-203, 2-17-41 Koishikawa, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN 112-0002         Phone: (+81)(0)3-5802-6033; Fax: (+81)(0)3-5802-6034; E-mail: fmwj@jca.apc.org

TABLE OF CONTENTS

FOREWORD

Ralph Hosoki 1

NOTES ON TERMINOLOGY.. 2

CHAPTER 1

Introduction: Migrants, Migrant Workers, Refugees and Japan’s Immigration Policy

Kaoru Koyama and Masataka Okamoto. 3

CHAPTER 2

Race and Nationality-based Entrance Refusals at Private and Quasi-Public Establishments

Debito Arudou. 7

CHAPTER 3

Anti-Korean and Chinese Remarks Made by Public Officials

Nobuyuki Sato. 10

CHAPTER 4

Nationality Acquisition and Name Changes: The Denial of Han and Korean Ethnic Surnames through Limitations in Kanji Characters Designated for Personal Names

Masataka Okamoto. 12

CHAPTER 5

The Education of the Children of Migrants and Ethnic Minorities

Yasuko Morooka. 15

CHAPTER 6

Discriminatory Administrative Government Procedures in Residence Status Application Approval Procedures and Employment

Satoru Furuya and Kaoru Koyama. 20

CHAPTER 7

Migrant Women in Japan: Victims of Multiple Forms of Discrimination and Violence and the Government’s Lack of Concern

Leny Tolentino. 25

CHAPTER 8

Racial Discrimination within the Refugee Recognition System

Kenji Iwata. 30

CREDITS.. 34

FOREWORD

Ralph HOSOKI

(Division of International Human Rights, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

This NGO report has been compiled by the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ), and contains chapters prepared by various SMJ member organizations for the reference of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in its consideration of the third to sixth periodic reports submitted by the Japanese government in accordance with Article 9 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD/C/JPN/3-6).

Evolving from the Forum on Asian Immigrant Workers established in 1987, SMJ was established in April 1997 with the aim to promote communication and common action among organizations throughout Japan working to provide assistance and relief and striving to protect, promote, and realize the human rights of migrants, migrant workers, refugees, and their families in Japan.  Since then, SMJ has grown into a nationwide network of 87 NGOs, civil society organizations, labor unions, religious organizations, professional associations, and women’s rights organizations, with an individual member base of 337 (2008 figures).

Domestically, SMJ has organized annual conferences and symposia on migrant and migrant worker rights, published books and monthly newsletters that have been widely used and consulted throughout domestic civil society circles, organized empowerment events and activities for migrants and non-Japanese national residents, engaged in annual negotiations with government ministries involved in drafting policies that affect migrants and their families, and networked with politicians and bureaucrats from various political parties and ministries.  SMJ also recognizes that concerns surrounding migrant rights are also rooted within a broader international context, and has collaborated with regional and international migrant rights organizations and networks to bring awareness of migrant rights issues in Japan to the fore.

The report’s contributors, while being active members of the migrant rights advocacy community in Japan, are also migrants, academics, researchers, lawyers, civil servants, and lobbyists who are authoritative experts in not only the various social, economic, political, cultural, and legal challenges that ethnic minorities and non-Japanese nationals, residents, and workers face in Japan, but also on the intersections of these complex issues and the interactions between the government, Japanese civil society, and migrants/ethnic minorities themselves.  Each chapter addresses specific issues that non-Japanese nationals, ethnic minorities of foreign origins, migrants, and refugees face in Japan, and highlights the current state of affairs, the main challenges and problems, and various NGO policy recommendations.

Please direct any inquiries or requests for additional information to the following contacts.

1)    Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan Secretariat (office):

Address: Tomisaka Christian Center 2-203, 2-17-41 Koishikawa, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN 112-0002; Phone: (+81)(0)3-5802-6033; Fax: (+81)(0)3-5802-6034; E-mail: fmwj@jca.apc.org

2)    Report editors:

Ralph Hosoki: ittonen@hotmail.com

Nobuyuki Sato: raik@abox5.so-net.ne.jp

Masataka Okamoto: okamoto@fukuoka-pu.ac.jp

NOTES ON TERMINOLOGY

To provide nuanced disambiguation and to avoid the exclusionary overtones of the terms “foreign” and “foreigner,” various (and sometimes overlapping) terms have been used throughout this report.

When referring to government documents or statistics, policy-related pronouns, and direct quotes, terms such as “foreigner” or “foreign resident” are used because they reflect the terminology used in official translations.

However, unless otherwise stated:

Migrants” and “migrant workers” are used to refer to old and newcomer[1] residents of non-Japanese nationalities and/or minority ethnic backgrounds, with the latter emphasizing the engagement in remunerative activities – both de facto and de jure – and including short-term or temporary workers of non-Japanese nationalities who are commonly referred to in government documents as “foreign workers.”

The following two terms are used in contexts where one’s nationality is emphasized.  “Non-Japanese national” refers to anyone who does not possess Japanese nationality, regardless of the individual’s length of stay in Japan.  In contrast, the term “non-Japanese national residents” refers to non-Japanese nationals who have set roots or grounds for basic livelihood in Japan.

Additionally, with regard to non-Japanese national ethnic Koreans in Japan, “Korean residents” refers to both old and newcomer individuals of Korean ethnic background.  However, “Resident Koreans” refers specifically to oldcomers and their descendants.  Ethnic Koreans with Japanese nationality residing in Japan are referred to as “Korean Japanese.”

CHAPTER 1

Introduction:

Migrants, Migrant Workers, Refugees and Japan’s Immigration Policy

Kaoru KOYAMA

(Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

Masataka OKAMOTO

(Vice Secretary-General, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

Introduction

As of the end of 2008, the number of registered non-Japanese national residents in Japan totaled 2,217,000 (1.7% of Japan’s total population) – a 30% (531,000) increase from 1,686,444 in 2000, right before the Japanese government’s previous CERD review in March 2001 (see table below).  There are also an additional 110,000 “overstayers” and other undocumented residents.

In tandem with this trend, 121,000 non-Japanese national residents acquired Japanese nationality between 2001 and 2008 (76,500 Korean residents and 35,500 Chinese residents; the total number of Korean and Chinese resident naturalizations between 1952 and 2008 were 320,000 and 88,000, respectively).  Additionally, between 1985 and 2006, the percentage of marriages between Japanese and non-Japanese nationals increased from 0.93% to 6.1%, and with the birth of 225,000 children born between parents through international marriages in the 10 years between 1999 and 2008, there has been a rapid increase in ethnic minorities with Japanese nationality.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s May 2008 estimates, there were 925,000 (2006 figure) migrant workers working in Japan.  Since the 1980s, the number of migrant workers has increased, and with the 1990 revision to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, it became possible for non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent from South America and the families of returnees from China[2] to migrate to Japan.  However, despite these realities, the government has pushed through with its stance of not recruiting “low-skilled” migrant workers, and has not attempted to implement policies to protect the rights of migrants and migrant workers.

Registered Non-Japanese National Residents in Japan (end of 2008 figures)

Total China Korea Brazil Philippines Peru U.S.A. Thailand Vietnam Indonesia Others
2,217,426

100%

655,377

29.6%

589,239

26.6%

312,582

14.1%

210,617

9.5%

59,723

2.7%

52,683

2.4%

42,609

1.9%

41,136

1.9%

27,250

1.2%

226,210

10.2%

Increase in the Number of Refugees, Migrant Workers, and Their Families

  1. 1. Indochinese Refugees and Convention Refugees

Due to shifts in political regimes and civil war within Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, an exodus of two million Indochinese refugees flowed into the neighboring countries.  Initially, the Japanese government took a stance of only allowing the temporary entry of refugees and not settlement.  However, this was criticized by the G7 countries among others, so in 1978, the government announced that it would allow the settlement of Indochinese refugees.  Despite this concession, the designated number of refugees allowed to settle was small (the designated number was 500 refugees in 1979, and this was subsequently expanded to 10,000) while refugee recognition was strict, and many refugees eventually moved on to the U.S. and Canada, thinking that no matter how hard they tried, ethnic and racial discrimination would foreclose their success in Japan.  Due to such reasons, as of the end of 2005, Japan had only accepted 11,319 Indochinese refugees for settlement (of which 76% were Vietnamese).

Additionally, in adherence to its obligations stemming from the ratification of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the Japanese government implemented the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act in 1982.  However, the government has been passive in its recognition of Convention refugees, and between 1982 and the end of 2008, only 508 of the 7,297 individuals who applied for refugee status have been recognized as refugees (see table below).

Numbers of Refugee Status Recognition Applicants and Recognized Persons in Japan (2001–2008)

Year 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Applicants 353 250 336 426 384 954 816 1,599
Recognized Persons 26 14 10 15 46 34 41 57

These Indochinese refugees and Convention refugees have encountered various forms of ethnic and racial discrimination within Japanese society, and their children have had to cope with identity conflicts and crises (i.e. cultural and linguistic gaps between parents who can only speak their native tongues and children who can only speak Japanese).  However, ethnic and racial discrimination against refugees rarely surface because given their status as refugees, it is difficult for them to raise a unified critical voice against Japanese society.

  1. 2. Migrant Workers and Their Families

As stated in paragraph 17 of its report[3] to the Committee, the Japanese government maintains its stance that “the acceptance of foreign workers in professional and technical fields should be more actively promoted,” and that “with respect to the matter of accepting workers for so-called unskilled labor,” there are some “concerns.”  This stance remains unchanged, even in the Basic Policy on Employment that the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare established in February 2008.

However, in tandem with the upturn of the Japanese economy in the late 1980s, labor “inflow pressures” surged from neighboring countries, while “recruitment pressures” for migrant workers strengthened as small and medium sized domestic companies – many of which were labeled as 3D (Dirty, Dangerous, and Demanding) companies – were having difficulty securing Japanese workers.  As a result, the number of migrant workers entering Japan increased.  Various structural changes within Japanese society – increasing wage disparities between Japan and neighboring Asian countries, an aging domestic society, the decline in the population of youth, shifts in work values, etc. – paints the backdrop for these changes.  However, because the government strictly held on to its aforementioned stance, many migrant workers could not secure working visas, and by entering Japan on short-term visas (e.g. tourist visas) to work, many continued to reside in Japan even after their visas expired and became “illegal foreign workers” and “overstay foreigners.”  Some of these individuals have come to live and settle in Japan and many have married and have children who attend Japanese elementary and secondary schools.

In response to these circumstances, in 1989, the Japanese government revised the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act[4] and implemented the following measures:

(a)   The establishment of new regulations to punish employers who hire non-Japanese nationals that do not possess residence statuses that permit work (up to 3 years of imprisonment and up to 2 million yen in fines; approximately $20,000 USD) in aim to strengthen measures to prevent the entry of unauthorized workers;

(b)  The provision of permission for entry to non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent (as well as their descendants and those individuals who have previously renounced their Japanese nationality) by issuing “long-term resident” residence statuses that have no restrictions on type of work – skilled or unskilled – so that they can be utilized as labor; and

(c)   The establishment of the “industrial trainee and technical intern system” that mixes training with employment, so that trainees and technical interns can be utilized as labor.  It is important to note that as trainees are not workers and are therefore not protected under the Labor Standards Law, many cases have been reported where they have been forced into de facto slave labor.

As a result of these policy changes, between 1990 and 2008, the number or “Nikkeijin” (i.e. non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent) – mostly from Brazil and Peru – increased from 71,000 to 370,000, and individuals with “training” and “designated activities” residence statuses, including “trainees” and “technical interns,” increased from 3,000 to 121,000.  These individuals became the de facto “unskilled foreign workers” in Japan.  During the same period, the total number of migrant workers increased from 260,000 to 900,000, and came to compose 1.4% of Japan’s total working population of 66,500,000.

With regard to “overstay foreigners,” the number peaked in 1993 at 296,000, and since then has declined to 113,000 by 2009.  The following measures underlie this trend:

(a)    With the 1998 revision to the Immigration Control Act, the Japanese government newly established the “illegal (over)stay crime,” which made staying in Japan upon illegal entry/landing and/or overstaying, a crime that is subject to punishment.  Furthermore, for those deported, the landing denial period (for re-entry) was extended from one year to five years (effective as of February 2002).

(b)    In its 2004 “Action Plan for the Realization of a Society Resistant to Crime” the government set a goal to halve the number of “illegal foreigners” within 5 years.  Additionally, in order to reach this goal, the government revised the Immigration Control Act by (1) steeply increasing fines for “illegal entry” (from 300,000 yen to 3,000,000 yen, or $3,000 USD to $30,000 USD); (2) extending the landing denial period for individuals with a history of deportation to 10 years; (3) establishing the “Departure Order System” where the landing denial period for qualifying individuals[5] would be shortened to one year; and 4) establishing the “Residence Status Revocation System.”[6]

(c)    Under the name of terrorism prevention, in 2008, the government revised the Immigration Control Act and established obligatory measures for non-Japanese nationals entering Japan to provide biometric personally-identifying information (i.e. fingerprints and face images).  Additional measures were also made for the deportation of non-Japanese national terrorists and the establishment of obligations for captains of in-bound aircraft and maritime vessels to report passenger and crewmember registries to immigration inspectors in advance.

Furthermore, to supplement these measures, a “foreigner crime” campaign that utilizes select (and convenient) data to “prove” the “increase in heinous crimes by foreigners” has been carried out by the National Police Agency.

Through the combination of these government measures to tighten control over non-Japanese national residents and the campaigns carried out by the National Police Agency, a push has been made for schemes attempting to encourage ordinary Japanese citizens into assuming “monitoring roles” to weed out “illegal” non-Japanese national residents from local communities.  In contrast, nowhere can measures and attempts to “prevent racial discrimination” be glimpsed from these extant policies.

Various Problems and Challenges that Migrants and Migrant Workers Face

In Japan, there is a substantial number of people who hold discriminatory sentiments and feelings of superiority towards other Asian people.  In the 19th century, when most countries in the Asia region were colonized by Western powers, Japan, following the semantical scheme of “leaving Asia and entering the West” after the Meiji Restoration, joined the ranks of Western countries.  Through the colonization of Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula, and entry into the League of Nations as a member state, a sense of superiority for having developed into a military superpower that invaded China and Southeast Asia emerged.  After World War II, another sense of superiority – one premised on the “industriousness” of the Japanese people that catapulted Japan into an economic superpower – formed the foundation for a mentality that viewed “the weak, poor, and backward Asia” as an object of scorn.

In March 2003, the Ministry of Justice announced the “Third Basic Plan for Immigration Control,” but even in this, there is no change in the government’s basic stance regarding the national interest-based recruitment of and increased control over non-Japanese nationals in Japan.

Furthermore, due to the global recession that swept throughout the world after fall of 2008, there has been a sudden increase in the number of unemployed.  Many of those who lost their jobs were “contingent workers” – or temporary employees with one-year employment contracts and dispatched workers who worked for small manufacturing contractors.  Already, by 2008, one in three (non-executive-level) employees was a contingent worker.  The fact that they only earned roughly the same amount as what one would receive on livelihood assistance made it impossible for them to engage in savings, and their livelihoods took a nosedive once they lost their jobs.  Many migrant workers worked as “contingent workers” even before the economic crisis, and given the government’s restrictions on the eligibility of non-Japanese nationals for social insurance and livelihood assistance, their lives were hit especially hard by unemployment.
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CHAPTER 2

Race and Nationality-based Entrance Refusals at

Private and Quasi-Public Establishments

Debito ARUDOU

(Chair, NGO Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA))

Introduction

Despite the recommendation to the Japanese government by the CERD in 2001 (CERD/C/304/Add.114, C.10) stating, “it is necessary to adopt specific legislation to outlaw racial discrimination, in particular legislation in conformity with the provisions of articles 4 and 5 of the Convention,” eight years later the Japanese Civil or Criminal Code still has no law specifically outlawing Racial Discrimination (hereinafter RD).

Repercussions of the Absence of an Anti-RD Law

Sign up at a public bathhouse in Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan; 1998-2001 (from the below-mentioned Otaru Onsens Case) Standardized signs around Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; 2008 to present day
Sign up at a women’s boutique on Aoyama Douri (Street), Minato-ku, Tokyo; 2005 to present day Standardized signs around Hamanasu Douri, Monbetsu, Hokkaido; saying in Russian, “Store Only For Japanese”; 1999 to present day

A lack of an Anti-RD law enables clear and present discriminatory practices in Japan, including refusals at businesses and establishments open to the general public.  Many places, including stores, restaurants, hotels, family public bathhouses, bars, discos, an eyeglass outlet, a ballet school, an internet café, a billiards hall, a women’s boutique, and a newspaper subscription service, have signs out front explicitly saying “Japanese Only,” or using a milder exclusionary equivalent clarifying that people who are not Japanese nationals, do not look “Japanese,” or do not speak Japanese, are barred from entry and service.[7] For example:

Although pressure from mostly civil society groups has resulted in some of the exclusionary signs being removed, many are still extant.  More recently, in the case of hotels: Local government agencies[8] and internet booking companies[9] are even promoting establishments that explicitly “refuse foreign customers,” or expressly deny bookings to people who “cannot speak Japanese” etc. – even though this practice is unlawful under the Hotel Management Law (ryokan gyouhou) in the Civil Code governing public accommodations.

Regarding redress for RD, in March 2001 the Japanese government replied to the CERD report (CERD A/56/18 (2001)) that the “Japanese judicial system is […] functioning sufficiently at present” (Paragraph 20.2), therefore a formalized Anti-RD law is unnecessary.  However, judicial precedent does not support this claim.  The Otaru Onsens Case[10], where several non-Japanese customers (including Japanese nationals who “looked foreign”) were refused entry to public bathhouses displaying “Japanese Only” signs, demonstrated that both the current legal situation in Japan was powerless to outlaw this practice, and that Japanese authorities were unable or unwilling to mediate effectively to stop this form of RD.  The Otaru City Government was taken to court under the ICERD in 2001, but the case was summarily denied review by the Japanese Supreme Court (April 7, 2005) for “lacking any Constitutional issues,” refusing to consider the validity of the ICERD.  Sapporo District and High Court decisions (November 11, 2002 and September 16, 2004, respectively) also ruled that RD was not the illegal activity in question in this case, therefore the ICERD is immaterial.  They also ruled that forcing the Otaru City Government to pass any local ordinance against RD would be a “violation of the separation of powers.”  A separate civil lawsuit[11] in Daito City, Osaka, where an African-American was denied entry in 2004 to an eyeglass store explicitly because the manager “dislikes black people,” found the Osaka District Court ruling against the African-American plaintiff (January 30, 2006).  Court cases take years, cost victims money, do not result in criminal penalties enforceable by police agencies, may result in civil court rulings that expressly ignore the ICERD, and otherwise absolve the government of any responsibility of systematically eliminating RD on a national level.

Although some local governments have taken measures to deal with discrimination in housing and rentals, legislation connected with RD has resulted in failure.  The first local government (Tottori Prefecture, 2005) to pass a local ordinance that explicitly criminalized and punished behavior tantamount to RD, found itself in the rare situation of repealing the ordinance in 2006[12], due to a public and media panic that too much power was being consolidated in human rights enforcement organs.  A similar bill guaranteeing human rights (the jinken yougo houan), first proposed at the national level in 2002, was shelved in 2003 and again in 2006 due in part to alarmist counterarguments and publications[13] that giving human rights to non-Japanese would enable them to abuse their power over Japanese people.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the situation is that in Japan, racial discrimination remains unconstitutional and unlawful under the ICERD, yet not illegal.  Japan has had more than a decade since 1996 to pass a criminal law against RD.  Its failure to do so can only be interpreted as a clear violation of ICERD Article 2(1): “States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay [emphasis added] a policy of eliminating racial discrimination.”  We urge the Committee to make the appropriate advisements to the Japanese government to pass a law against racial discrimination without any further delay.

CHAPTER 3

Anti-Korean and Chinese Remarks Made by Public Officials

Nobuyuki SATO

(Research Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan (RAIK))

Introduction

In the previous concluding observations adopted by the Committee (paragraph 13), the Committee addressed the “Sangokujin remark”[14] made in April 2000 by Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Shintaro Ishihara as being racially discriminatory, and expressed its concern over “the lack of administrative or legal action taken by the authorities.”  However, Governor Ishihara has repeatedly made discriminatory remarks in May 2001, August 2003, and September 2006.

The “Sangokujin” Remark

On April 9, 2000, Governor Ishihara conducted a speech before members of the Japan Self-Defense Force:

“Looking at the present Tokyo, many Sangokujin and foreigners who have illegally entered the country have repeated very heinous crimes. […] Under such circumstances, if an extremely catastrophic disaster were to occur, we cannot discount the possibility that a huge, huge rioting incident could occur. […] This is precisely why, when dispatched in such times, I would like all of you [Self-Defense Force personnel] to consider the maintenance of public security to be one of your important purposes in addition to the provision of emergency help.”[15]

Governor Ishihara has specifically stressed “crimes committed by foreigners” (which only compose a very small proportion of the total crimes committed in Japan), and by intentionally using the “Sangokujin” term – which was formerly used to discriminate against and drive out Resident Koreans and Taiwanese residents who were liberated from Japanese colonial rule in 1945 – and creating the false threat that “we cannot discount the possibility that a huge, huge rioting incident could occur,” he has tried to arouse prejudice and animosity among Japanese against non-Japanese nationals so that the dispatch of Self-Defense Force personnel for public security maintenance purposes could be realized.

Furthermore, Governor Ishihara’s statement, “We need to break [China] up.  No matter how small the contribution, Japan should assist in this process and should also take initiatives both before and after the break up,”[16] violates Article 7.  However, Tokyo residents reelected him in 2003.

Remarks on “Chinese DNA”

In a Japanese newspaper (Sankei Shimbun) article titled “A Message to Japan: The Necessity of Internal Defense” dated May 8, 2001, Governor Ishihara groundlessly asserted that “[e]very year, there are about 10,000 illegal entrants, and Chinese compose 40% of these numbers.  Because they are illegal entrants, they cannot land regular jobs and are inevitable criminal factors.”  Additionally, after raising the example of a brutal murder case between Chinese nationals involving the scalping of facial skin, he wrote the following:

“We cannot deny the possibility that the quality of Japanese society as a whole might change as a result of the proliferation of crimes that indicate such ethnic DNA.  To avoid turning a blind eye to future trouble, we have no choice but to do what we can do now to expel such impending threats.”

This statement spread prejudiced sentiments that associated Chinese ethnic DNA (Governor Ishihara implicitly meant the Han people) to the execution of savage crimes.

Two years later, in an August 4, 2003 Sankei Shimbun (newspaper) article, Governor Ishihara wrote:

“The extremely pragmatic DNA of Chinese, who do not trust any sort of politics whatsoever, takes the improvement of one’s own economic situation as an absolute purpose, and while bearing in mind the [economic] disparities [between China and Japan], invades Japan in large numbers, and openly commits theft to satisfy one’s own desires.”

This is an attitude meant to thoroughly demean individuals of a specific ethnicity/nationality.

In January 2006, a report on Japan written by the UN Commission on Human Rights-appointed Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance Doudou Diène was released.  The following quote was made in paragraph 62 of the report:

“Most worryingly, elected public officials make xenophobic and racial statements against foreigners in total impunity, and affected groups cannot denounce such statements.”

However, by stating, “The Special Rapporteur doesn’t understand the governor’s real meaning in the whole context of his statement,” the Japanese government responded that his remarks were not discriminatory.[17]

Conclusion

These statements may act to instill groundless fears about “the rampant spread of crime by Asian foreigners” throughout the Japanese public and may also incite discriminatory stereotypes against particular ethnic minority groups in Japan.  As such, by not attempting to take any corrective actions against Governor Ishihara’s remarks, the Japanese government has not fulfilled its State Party obligation to uphold ICERD Article 4(c).

CHAPTER 4

Nationality Acquisition and Name Changes:

The Denial of Han and Korean Ethnic Surnames through Limitations in Kanji Characters Designated for Personal Names

Masataka OKAMOTO

(Vice Secretary-General, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

Background

In the concluding observations adopted on March 20, 2001 (CERD/C/58/Misc.17/Rev.3), CERD stated:

“Noting that although there are no longer any administrative or legal requirements for Koreans applying for Japanese nationality 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.”

In the Upper House Judicial Affairs Committee that immediately followed this statement, when asked to remark on the concerns and recommendations of CERD’s concluding observations, Minister of Justice Masahiko Koumura replied:

“If the authorities have continued to demand applicants to change their names, this would be something outrageous, and since 1983, we have decided that such requests should not and will not be made, so if those types of cases actually do exist, we would like to take the appropriate measures.”[18]

Unfortunately, “those types of cases” abound.

Cases

Even in 2003, a case was reported by a Resident Korean from the Kanto area, that when he went to the Legal Affairs Bureau and received an “Information on Naturalization Application Procedures” leaflet and attended the briefing session, in response to his question, “Am I not allowed to continue using my current name after I naturalize?” the counseling staff replied, “Since you will become a Japanese, it is necessary that you change your name to one that is Japanese.”[19]

The Ministry of Justice itself has also revealed in different forms that with regard to post-naturalization “names,” instead of “instructing” the applicants, it has given “advice” and has also urged them to “consider” the implications of which type of name they choose to have.  During the 1991 Upper House Judicial Affairs Committee, the Director-General of the Civil Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Justice Atsushi Shimizu stated, “Considering that it is acceptable for individuals to decide that they would like to retain and pass on last names such as ‘朴’ [Pak] and ‘金’ [Kim] for the next two or three generations, we have made it a point to advise applicants to carefully decide whether they would like to have such names after naturalization.”[20] Under the auspices of such government stances, the “instructing” and “coaxing” of Japanese name acquisition has occurred in practice.  For example, a woman from Cambodia who acquired Japanese nationality in late 1990 testified that when she applied for naturalization, the office representative insistently encouraged her to acquire a Japanese-like name like “Suzuki” for the “benefit of her children.”[21] Very recently, on January 7, 2010, a Thai woman who went to the Chiba Legal Affairs Office to apply for Japanese nationality was also told by the office representative that “Japanese names are more convenient,” so “[n]ext time, come back with a Japanese name in mind for when you acquire Japanese nationality.”[22]

In tandem with the aforementioned incidents, even in 2005, an administrative scrivener accounted that, through his experiences handling naturalization applications, among applicants who decide on Japanese names as their naturalized names, many actually “prefer to apply with their Korean ethnic names,” but many Korean residents think that “the Legal Affairs Bureau and the Ministry of Justice implicitly demand the use of Japanese names,” and if they do not use such Japanese names when they apply, “they would be at a disadvantage in the naturalization application process.”[23] A guidebook published by a different administrative scrivener in the same year also states that for “post-naturalization names,” one must choose a “Japanese-like name” (i.e. a name that is “appropriately” Japanese).  This is the reality of the issue in Japan.

Even the Ministry of Justice’s most recent (2009) “Guidebook for Naturalization Procedures” uses language that persuades name changes by stating that “one may freely choose […] what name he/she would like to use after naturalization,” and in addition to this, limitations are placed by stating, “In principle, names for use after naturalization cannot contain characters other than hiragana and katakana letters and those characters listed in the National List of Chinese Characters in Common Use and the List of Kanji Officially for Use in Names.”  Because characters such as “崔” (Cuī/Choi), “姜” (Jiāng/Kang), “趙” (Zhào/Cho), and “尹” (Yǐn/Yoon) that are frequently used in Korean and Han ethnic surnames are not even listed in these two lists, there are still many ethnic Korean and Han applicants who have no choice but to renounce their ethnic surnames.

In a magazine interview, a third generation Chinese man in Japan who applied for naturalization in 1997 was asked, “Were you forced to take a Japanese name?”  In response, the man replied “no,” but said, “I was told that my name after naturalization must include characters in the List of Kanji Officially for Use in Names, and my surname character was not in the list.”[24] A former Chinese national who acquired Japanese nationality in 1998-99 claimed, “I really like the name that my parents gave me, so it was painful to have to change it to get naturalized.  I wish I could have retained my name, even after becoming a Japanese national.”[25] If we consider the fact that the majority of applicants for naturalization are Korean and Chinese/Taiwanese nationals, it is likely that since 1983, a substantial number of people were forced to renounce their ethnic names, due to the limitations imposed by the List of Kanji Officially for Use in Names.

Given the fact that the aforementioned characters for common ethnic Korean and Han surnames are commonly used on the computer and are also entered into the system during “foreign resident registration” procedures, there is nothing logical about not allowing their use in names for the family register in Japan.

Conclusion

In its 2004 General Recommendation 30, CERD recommended that State Parties should “[t]ake the necessary measures to prevent practices that deny non-citizens their cultural identity, such as legal or de facto requirements that non-citizens change their name in order to obtain citizenship, and to take measures to enable non-citizens to preserve and develop their culture” (paragraph 37).

Therefore, the Japanese government should first eliminate the limitations imposed by the List of Kanji Officially for Use in Names, and allow ethnic Korean and Han applicants to retain their original Chinese character surnames when acquiring Japanese nationality.  The “Guidebook for Naturalization Procedures” should also refrain from using language that persuades applicants to change their names when naturalizing.  Additionally, on the application form, there should not be a column for “name after naturalization.”  Even under the current law, Japanese nationals wishing to change their names are required by Article 107 of the Family Registration Law to file a request to a family court.  Nationality acquisition and name changes are intrinsically unrelated issues.

CHAPTER 5

The Education of the Children of Migrants and Ethnic Minorities

Yasuko MOROOKA

(Japanese Network for the Institutionalization of Schools for

Non-Japanese Nationals and Ethnic Minorities)

Education of Non-Japanese National Children

1. Despite the recommendation made in paragraph 7 of the Committee’s previous concluding observations, the central government has not conducted a nationwide survey on non-Japanese national and/or ethnic minority children.  According to the various surveys carried out by the local governments,[26] 60% of the children of migrants and migrant workers such as Nikkei-Brazilians, Nikkei-Peruvians, and Filipinos among others (mostly with non-Japanese nationalities) are reported to be attending Japanese public schools, while 20% attend schools for non-Japanese national children (gaikokujin gakkou), and the remaining 20% are estimated not to be attending school at all.  On the other hand, among the children of the 600,000 non-Japanese national Korean residents, 80 to 90% are reported to be attending Japanese schools and the rest attend schools for non-Japanese national or ethnic minority children, such as North Korean and South Korean schools.  The majority of the children of the 500,000 Korean Japanese (i.e. Japanese national ethnic Koreans) are reported to be attending Japanese schools.

2. Regardless of the statement made in paragraph 15 of the Committee’s previous concluding observations, non-Japanese national children living in Japan are still excluded from the compulsory education system, and in violation of Article 5(e)(v) of the Convention, the right to education is not equally ensured at the same level as that of Japanese children.  In its “Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Combined Periodic Report,”[27] the Japanese government announced that “Japanese public schools at the compulsory education level guarantee foreign nationals the opportunity to receive education if they wish to attend such [a] school by accepting them without charge, just as they do with Japanese school children” (paragraph 24), but this simply means that “permission” will be given if the non-Japanese national “wishes” to enroll.  However, the school/administration does not have the legal obligation to accept such students, and for non-Japanese nationals, education is not “secured” as a legal “right.”  This is the actual situation regarding the government’s contention.[28] For example, the annual “Survey on Children of School Age Who Do Not Attend School” carried out by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), clearly states that “foreigners are excluded from the survey.”

The extent to which information is adequately disseminated – including translation of information into the non-Japanese nationals’ languages – for those “wishing” to enter Japanese schools varies among local governments.

As for the percentage of students continuing on to higher education, according to the 2001 survey conducted by the Council for Cities of Non-Japanese Residents (where many Brazilians and non-Japanese nationals live), the average of the 14 local government areas in which non-Japanese national children were enrolled in Japanese schools was 51.6%.  Though there is no data on student enrollment rates into Japanese high schools from schools for non-Japanese national or ethnic minority children, since there are almost no considerations in the high school entrance examination system that cater to the needs of students whose first language is not Japanese, it is clear that such enrollments are extremely difficult.  Consequently, the percentage of children of migrants and migrant workers who go on to high school is estimated to be below 30%.  This figure is less than one-third of 97% high school enrollment rate of Japanese nationals in 2008.

3. In paragraph 24 of the government’s report[29], the government states:

“Furthermore, when these foreign children enter school, maximum attention is given to ensure that they can receive, without undue difficulty, the education in Japanese normally taught to Japanese children.  Toward this end, they are provided with, among other things, guidance in learning Japanese and are supported by their regular teachers as well as by others who can speak their native language.”

However, this contradicts reality.  Even according to the survey conducted by MEXT, as of September 2008, there were 28,500 students enrolled in Japanese elementary, junior high, and high schools that needed Japanese language instruction, and this number has continued to increase annually.  Compared to the previous year, there was an increase of 12.5%.  Furthermore, due to the fact that measures to accommodate Japanese language instruction are not taken unless there are 5 or more students who need such instruction, 15.1% of these students are not receiving any Japanese language instruction.  Besides, in the aforementioned MEXT-commissioned survey on children of school age who do not attend school, 12.6% of the children not attending school answered that they did not attend because they “did not understand Japanese.”  It is evident from this that there is not enough Japanese language instruction.[30]

4. In response to the Committee’s recommendation to “ensure access to education in minority languages in public Japanese schools” in paragraph 16 of its previous concluding observations, the government claimed that “a school subject called sogo-gakushu (general learning) […] allows […] children of foreign nationalities [to] receive education in their native tongues (minority languages) and learn about their native cultures”[31] (paragraph 24).  However, the government has not established any specific education policies for minority children, and within MEXT’s curriculum guidelines for this “general learning” subject, there is neither any mention of minority language and culture education nor any financial support for such classroom activities.  As the choice over the content of the “general learning” subject/class period is left to the discretion of each school, the government’s claim simply means that this class period could, in theory, be used for minority language and culture education.

The public schools that do provide minority language and culture classes are those that have been established in specific areas in Osaka prefecture and Kyoto City with “ethnic classrooms.”  Because these classes are not recognized as accredited classes by the central government’s educational curriculum policy, they are taught as once-a-week extracurricular classes that include Korean language and culture education.  However, the salaries of the lecturers/instructors of these “ethnic classrooms” are paid fully by the local municipalities, and compared to regular full-time teachers, their pay is very low.  In addition to these schools, there are only a few schools that offer mother tongue language education in “special support” classes for Chinese and Brazilian children.

Over 80% of the children of Korean residents who attend Japanese schools use Japanese names instead of their real names,[32] and are placed in situations in which they have no other option but to conceal their own identities.  From this, it is obvious how deficient the current education system is in terms of the provision of a curriculum that not only respects the identities of minority children, but enables them to hold pride in their ancestral roots.

Schools for Non-Japanese National and Ethnic Minority Children

1. Today, there are about 200 schools for non-Japanese national and ethnic minority children that offer general education in languages other than Japanese.  These include 100 national and international schools such as North Korean, South Korean, and Chinese schools that were established before the war or during the early years after the war.  Brazilian, Peruvian, and Filipino schools that were established as the numbers of migrant workers and migrants started to rapidly increase in the 1990s number about 100 as well.[33]

2. According to the School Education Act, for a school to become recognized as an accredited school, it must implement the designated subjects set forth in the curriculum guidelines created by MEXT (for the purpose of educating Japanese nationals), and must use MEXT-approved Japanese textbooks.  Due to this, it is impossible to adequately teach languages other than Japanese and English in regular classes.  Therefore, such schools are not recognized as accredited schools.  Even if a student were to graduate from one of these schools, his/her graduation credential would not be recognized as an accredited one.  As a result, such students encounter various disadvantages when they try to enroll in Japanese schools or take national examinations.

3. In 2003, the college entrance qualification system was revised.  With this, for (1) individuals graduating from twelve-year curriculum schools for non-Japanese national children (e.g. international schools) that have been accredited by international evaluation associations (WASC, ACSI, and ECIS); and (2) individuals graduating from schools for non-Japanese national children (South Korean, Chinese, Brazilian schools, etc.) that have been recognized by the Japanese government as schools that carry out curriculums that are equivalent to high school curriculums in each respective country, eligibility to take the entrance examinations and apply for Japanese universities and technical/vocational schools was granted.  However, graduates of North Korean schools were not included, and because their eligibility is either dependent on the individual decisions of each university or conditional on passing the Senior High School Graduate Equivalence Qualifying Examination, they experience disadvantages.

4. Most schools established before the 1990s for non-Japanese national and ethnic minority children, such as North and South Korean schools and Chinese schools, have been recognized as “miscellaneous category schools” (kakushu gakkou).  But these schools are not “official” or “accredited” ordinary schools under the Japanese Educational School System whose aim is to provide general or regular education, and are therefore, educational institutions that are institutionally treated no differently from vocational driving or cooking schools.  Because they are not “officially accredited” schools, the central government has provided no subsidies for these schools for non-Japanese national children.  Instead, it is only from the subsidies provided by certain portions of the local municipalities’ budgets that these schools are funded.  However, these subsidies from local municipalities only amount to one-tenth to several fractions of the funding received by Japanese private schools.  Due to the absence of state subsidies, these schools are supported by tuition fees paid by the parents, donations from co-ethnics, and subsidies from local municipalities.

As for donations made to schools, “official” or “accredited” general schools can unconditionally receive special tax breaks, but “miscellaneous category schools” are in principle, ineligible.  On March 31, 2003, MEXT approved tax exemption measures for donations that were specific to a portion of European/American “miscellaneous category schools” with English curriculums.  In response to this, concrete recommendations for the equal treatment of North Korean and Chinese schools were made to the Japanese government by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) in March 2007 and by the UN Human Rights Committee in October 2008.[34]

5. Among the Brazilian and Peruvian schools that have increased after 1995, only 5 schools have been approved as “miscellaneous category schools” and the majority are only treated as mere “private preparatory schools.”  Due to this, (1) there are no subsidies from local municipalities, (2) consumption tax is placed on tuition, (3) students are ineligible for discounted student commuter passes, (4) students cannot participate in inter-school sports events and activities, etc.  Such schools experience great difficulties in operating the school itself.

Above all, because the schools’ running costs are almost completely secured by tuition fees paid by the parents, monthly tuition fees are inevitably expensive and range from 30,000 to 50,000 yen (approximately $300 to $500 USD).  Furthermore, in addition to tuition, the parents must also pay for textbooks, school lunch fees, school bus passes and/or non-discounted adult-rate commuter passes, etc.

Strict requirements, such as the private possession of school grounds and buildings, are enforced by local municipalities for the approval of “miscellaneous category schools.”  It is very difficult for newly established Brazilian and Peruvian schools to pass such criteria.

Most of the parents of students who attend these schools are contingent/dispatch workers, and have been hit extremely hard by the Lehman Shock of September 2008.  For example, in half a year, approximately 60% of Brazilian migrant workers lost their jobs, and as a result, in one year, 16 Brazilian schools closed down because parents were no longer able to pay the expensive tuition and had to withdraw approximately half of the students from school.  Half of the students who withdrew from school returned to Brazil, but 22% still remain completely out of school in Japan.

Recommendations

1. The government should confirm that it has an international legal obligation to ensure the right to education regardless of residence status and nationality.

2. The government should establish an education policy to secure the right to education for non-Japanese national and ethnic minority children in Japan.  The content of the policy should first and foremost, respect the children’s identities and ensure the right to learn minority languages and cultures; and secondly, it should ensure the right to learn Japanese if a child’s first language is not Japanese.  Additionally, in order to establish a concrete education policy, the voices of non-Japanese national and ethnic minority residents themselves should be directly sought, and a detailed nationwide survey should be carried out on the realities of language development, rates of non-attendance, acceptance rates into top tier schools, costs of educational fees, economic situations of the parents, etc., and disaggregated by nationality, ethnicity, sex, and age.

3. In order to ensure the right to education for non-Japanese national and ethnic minority children, and in particular, the right to learn one’s language and culture, the government should allow these children to actually exercise choice between Japanese schools and schools for non-Japanese national and ethnic minority children by recognizing these schools as a type of “officially accredited” ordinary school (and not as “miscellaneous category schools”) and allowing the recognition of these schools’ graduation credentials as ones that are equivalent to those of Japanese schools while providing these schools with at least the same amount of government funding that Japanese private schools receive.  Additionally, until such fundamental policy reforms are established, the government should immediately amend the unfair policies extant within the current “miscellaneous category schools” framework with regard to tax exemption measures on donations and the differential recognition of college entrance eligibility between different schools for non-Japanese national and ethnic minority children.  Finally, the government should take immediate actions to bail out schools that are not even recognized as “miscellaneous category schools,” and in particular, Brazilian and Peruvian schools that are at risk of closing down.

CHAPTER 6

Discriminatory Administrative Government Procedures in

Residence Status Application Approval Procedures and Employment

Satoru FURUYA

(Rights of Immigrants Network in Kansai (RINK))

Kaoru KOYAMA

(Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

  1. 1. The Requirement to Present Proof of a Clean Criminal Record for Residence Status Approval: The Additional “Good Behavior and Conduct” Criterion for Third Generation Non-Japanese Nationals of Japanese Descent and Their Families

Introduction

In November 2005, there was an incident where a Japanese girl was murdered in Hiroshima.  One week later, a Peruvian man – who had a “long-term resident” residence status (i.e. visa) as a third generation non-Japanese national of Japanese descent – was arrested.  On March 29, 2006, as a measure to both deal with this incident and maintain general public security, the Ministry of Justice added a “good behavior and conduct” requirement – a requirement stating that one must prove not to have a criminal record for the approval of “long-term resident” residence statuses.

In other words, instead of taking measures to mitigate racial prejudices that could have resulted from the media’s excessive reports on crimes committed by non-Japanese nationals, the Ministry of Justice – which should be protecting human rights – did the opposite by enforcing a measure that was predicated on the linkage of crime to non-Japanese nationals with certain attributes.  As a result of this, members of minority groups became targets of racial discrimination, and stereotypes against them were widely spread throughout Japanese society.

Therefore, this measure violates Articles 2(1(a)) and 4(c) of the ICERD.  Additionally, in lawsuits related to this, the defendant (the Japanese government) has argued that this new requirement does not violate the ICERD, and a district court verdict has supported this claim.

Background

With the 1989 revision to the Immigration Control Act, non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent and their families were issued “long-term resident” residence statuses that allowed one to engage in remunerative activities.  To second generation non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent, there was the “spouse or child of a Japanese national” residence status, and for the spouses of second generation non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent and third generation non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent and their spouses and/or unmarried minor children, there was the “long-term resident” residence status.  According to statistics on the number of “registered foreigners” in Japan, in 2008, there were 258,000 individuals with “long-term resident” residence statuses of which 137,000 were Brazilian and 19,000 were Peruvian.

On the other hand, with regard to public security policy, a trend toward “penal populism” has recently become salient in Japan, and non-Japanese national residents have been the first to be targeted.  Discourse claiming that crimes have increased in number and level of atrocity thereby leading to the critical deterioration of public security throughout society at large, has circulated among the media, police, and Diet, and took a turn for the worse, creating a dangerous situation which peaked in 2003 but continued to exist as several murder incidents were extensively broadcasted in 2005.  The aforementioned incident in Hiroshima where a non-Japanese national was said to have “murdered a Japanese girl for sexual motivations” was one of those extensively broadcasted incidents.

Under these circumstances, by stating that (1) due to this incident, there is “heightened anxiety among the Japanese people,” and (2) there are many foreigners[35] with “long-term resident” residence statuses who have been arrested for criminal offenses,[36] the Ministry of Justice announced the amendment to the “Official Gazette Regarding ‘Long-term Residents’” that will be discussed in this chapter.  Subsequently, this amendment and the reasons behind it were picked up and broadcasted by the media.

The Content of the “Official Gazette” Amendment

The amendment to the Ministry of Justice’s “official gazette” (announced in March 2006) regarding “long-term residents” contains the following criteria:

(a)   “Good behavior and conduct” was added as an additional criterion for qualifying as a “long-term resident.”  In concrete terms, possession of a criminal record of imprisonment (with or without hard labor) and/or pecuniary offenses (i.e. fines; but excluding fines from violations of the Road Traffic Law) within or outside of Japan reflects negatively on one’s application.  Probation under the Juvenile Law and having a record of “repeated violations of the law throughout one’s everyday life” are also evaluated negatively.

(b)  To verify “good behavior and conduct,” when applying for landing permission or residence status, applicants are asked to present background records issued by the police in their respective home countries.

(c)   This new “good behavior and conduct” criterion is applied to third generation non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent and their families, mainly from South America.  In other words, of all the non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent and their families, second generation non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent and their spouses are exempt.  From the differential treatment here, it is obvious that there is a standard of judgment with racist motivations borne from distrust and public security anxieties toward individuals that are “less akin” to Japanese nationals.  Additionally, among those who qualify as “long-term resident” applicants, the “Japanese war orphans left behind in China” and Indochinese refugees were exempt from this new criterion due to policy considerations.

Possession of a criminal record is a criterion that forecloses the possibility of residence status approval in general, and can also be used as a reason for deportation (under the Immigration Control Act).  For such instances, being sentenced to “a year or more” of imprisonment or a crime involving drugs become reasons for adverse disposition for disapproval of residence status.  In contrast to this, in the case of this amendment to the “official gazette” regarding “long-term residents,” all criminal punishments as well as minor punishments and juvenile probation become reasons for rejection.  Although the presentation of background records issued by the police of the applicant’s home country is not required in regular screenings for residence status approval, the amended “official gazette” demands the presentation of such documentation for the aforementioned “long-term resident” applicants, and therefore, even background activities that fall short of criminal record offenses[37] are also available for consideration and could work against the applicants.

The Discriminatory Effects and Cultivation of Stereotypes Caused by the “Official Gazette” Amendment

All of the following cases occurred after the amendment to the “official gazette” was made, and involve “long-term resident” residence status extension applications that were rejected because the applicant had been punished for a prior offense.

(a)   Third generation male Peruvian national of Japanese descent, A, caused a traffic accident, and in a 2002 summary court ruling, was charged with professional negligence resulting in bodily injury and was fined on a summary order.  The following year, his residence status extension was approved, and the next year, his license was approved.  However, after the “official gazette” amendment, in August 2006 his residence status extension was rejected on the grounds of the aforementioned offense.  Furthermore, A’s wife, who was also living in Japan with a “long-term resident” residence status also had her extension application rejected.

(b)  A male Bolivian national, B, who is married to a third generation Bolivian woman of Japanese descent, caused a traffic accident, and his residence status extension application was rejected on the grounds that he was charged with a pecuniary offense for professional negligence resulting in bodily injury.[38]

There are also cases in which the possession of a spouse or minor child has been considered, ultimately resulting in the approval of residence status extension applications despite the fact that one has a prior criminal record.  However, in the two aforementioned cases, such considerations were not adequately made.[39]

(c)   In October 2002, a third generation male Peruvian national of Japanese descent, C, dumped a refrigerator in an empty lot, and in January 2003, was fined 200,000 yen (approximately $2,000 USD) on a summary order by the summary court for “a violation of the Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law.”  In August 2003, his residence status extension was approved.  However, in August 2006, after the “official gazette” amendment, his extension was rejected on the grounds of the same pecuniary offense, and since his “period of preparation to leave Japan” ended in October of the same year, he has remained in Japan without legal documentation.

In August 2007, C brought charges claiming the invalidity of his residence status extension rejection, but lost the case in the district court.  He is currently residing in Japan without legal documentation, and no remedies have been sought.

In court, the plaintiff claimed that the “official gazette” amendment not only “poses a significantly grave discriminatory effect on the entire Nikkeijin [non-Japanese nationals of Japanese descent] population as a group that has been categorized on the basis of race and other attributes,” but also embodies the racial discrimination stipulated in ICERD Article 1(1) while violating Articles 2(1(a)) and 4(c).

Additionally, this “official gazette” amendment has promoted the entrenchment of media-instigated stereotypes that link non-Japanese nationals to crime.  Wide-scale coverage and explanations that linked the amendment to the murder incident in Hiroshima and other crime statistics were made by the Minster of Justice in a press conference the day before the “official gazette” was amended, as well as on the Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau’s homepage (since April 2006), the official announcement in the aforementioned Immigration Control Report (footnote 1), and the media.

Conclusion

Therefore, this measure violates ICERD Articles 2(1(a)) and 4(c).

  1. 2. Employer Obligations to Report the Employment Status of “Foreign Workers” and the Use of “Ordinary Powers of Attention” to Ascertain Who is a “Foreign National”

The Problem

With the recent revision of the Employment Measures Act, since October 2007, the government made it mandatory for employers when hiring non-Japanese nationals to confirm and notify the head of the local public employment security office of their names, residence statuses, and lengths of stay.  A punishment of up to 300,000 yen (approximately $3,000 USD) for violating employers was also established.

When hiring, employers are required to ascertain whether a job applicant is a “foreign national” by means of using one’s “ordinary powers of attention” to make judgments based on the applicant’s “name or native language.”[40]

As mentioned in Chapter 1 of this report (p.3), there has been a rapid increase in Japanese nationals who have ethnic roots in other parts of the world.  To require employers to judge applicants by their names is predicated on the assumption that Japanese nationals all have Japanese-like names, but this assumption contradicts the Ministry of Justice’s claim that it does not demand that non-Japanese nationals change their names upon naturalization (for more details, see Chapter 4).  In reality, there are also many Japanese nationals whose native language is not Japanese.

Instead of providing employers with a means for differentiation between Japanese nationals and non-Japanese nationals, this new guideline poses the risk of facilitating segregation as well as arbitrary judgment and discrimination on the basis of race, skin color, and ethnic/tribal origins.

Conclusion

Therefore, this measure violates ICERD Articles 2(1) and 4(c).

CHAPTER 7

Migrant Women in Japan: Victims of Multiple Forms of Discrimination and Violence and the Government’s Lack of Concern

Leny TOLENTINO

(KALAKASAN Migrant Women Empowerment Center)

Introduction

Japan has continuously needed migrant women for its sex industry, shortage of wives for its male nationals, and replacement unskilled labor for its service and manufacturing industries.  In response to these needs, migrant women – mostly from Asia and Latin America – have come or have been brought to Japan on tourist, entertainer, spouse or relative of a Japanese national (Nikkeijin), and trainee visas since the 1980s.

However, even after nearly three decades, many migrant women are still treated as the “other” and excluded from Japanese society and its social safety nets.  Widespread discriminatory attitudes and prejudices on the basis of appearance, speech, customs, and cultures, as well as feelings of indifference toward migrant women among government officials and the populace continue to exist and are also codified in extant policies and legislation.  Many migrant women survive with minimal protection under the law, have limited access to basic information and opportunities for training, empowerment, and development, and are also almost completely deprived of opportunities to participate in decision-making processes.  Most vulnerable are those migrant women who are victims of DV and/or trafficking.

Multiple Forms of Discrimination and Disadvantages That Migrant Women Face

  1. 1. In Trafficking

(a)   Recent Developments in Policy

The government adopted the Comprehensive Action Plan of Measures to Combat Trafficking in Persons (2004), which was followed by amendments to the penal code (2005) and the Immigration Standard Ministerial Ordinance (2006) – regarding the cut down of “entertainer” visa issuances – and an amendment to the Entertainment Business Law (2005).

Yet, in response to stricter regulations, trafficking operations have simply become more invisible, coercive, and controlling, and there has been a tangential increase in migrant women who are lured to come to Japan with non-entertainer visa statuses – such as tourist, trainee, and marriage visas – and are later forced to go into prostitution by their husbands or brokers.  In some instances, if they enter into fake marriages, they are forced to pay both the broker and the husband for 2 to 3 years, or as long as the fake marriage lasts.  A typical case in point would be a Filipino woman who wanted to end her marriage with her abusive Japanese husband.  He had assured her legal stay in Japan as his wife for a monthly fee of 50,000 yen (approximately $500 USD) but refused her divorce request because she had not finished paying the 3 million yen ($30,000 USD) she had agreed to pay him.[41]

2.  In Domestic Violence

(a)   Examples of DV in International Marriages

International marriages in Japan have been increasing since the 1980s,[42] and domestic violence remains a major problem for non-Japanese women in such marriages where they are six times more likely to be abused than Japanese women (Table 1).  DV often originates from their partners’ prejudices against migrant women and from their low regard for people from developing countries.  Aside from life endangering physical and sexual abuse, threats and derogatory judgmental insults inflict psychological damage and lower self-esteem and confidence.  Threats like, “You cannot live in Japan without me,” “I will not extend your visa,” and “This is Japan, and custody over the child will always be mine [husband] – if you leave, I will report it to the immigration authorities and they will not believe what you say,” are examples of such derogatory treatment that have been reported to KALAKASAN over the past 7 years.  Their lives are sometimes circumscribed by their spouses’ intent to force them to “become Japanese” by being over-critical of the way they rear and discipline their children, and by prohibiting them from speaking their own language inside the house and associating with co-ethnics.

Table 1. Percentage of DV Victims per 100,000 People[43]

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Non-Japanese women 28.9 33.8 36.0 34.8 35.4
Japanese women 6.2 6.5 6.3 6.5 6.4

(b)  Current Policy Limitations

There is a dire need for gender- and multiculturalism-sensitive training programs for government staff and interpreters at all levels of the government to assume responsibility for supporting migrant women victims so that victimization is not repeated.

In 2007, 8.95% of women in protective custody at women’s counseling centers were non-Japanese women.[44] Though the DV Law guarantees protection to all women victims, undocumented migrant women and their children are minimally protected, and are only eligible to stay in a shelter for two weeks, and are excluded from long-term support and particularly access to livelihood assistance and other support services.  At the same time, it takes months or years before undocumented DV victims and their children are granted residence permits in Japan.  Relegated to an even lower social existence are undocumented migrant women without children or those who have children who are in the custody of the abusive partner.  Such women are frequently forced to go back to their country of origin.  For such reasons, a significant number of undocumented migrant women and children choose to bear abuses, or if they are already in a shelter, to return to their violent partners or become homeless.[45] Many of these women do not have understandable and accessible information about support services and details about their legal and human rights.  It is therefore paramount that the government effectively disseminates such information in a systematic and culturally sensitive way.

3.  Migrant Single Mother Families

(a)   Lack of Support and Information Services

Every year, the number of migrant single mother families is increasing as international marriage divorce rates increase.  In 2007, 7.15% of all divorces in Japan were international marriage divorces.[46] Migrant single mother families face many difficulties and are marginalized due to the government’s lack of interest to provide them with adequate protection.  Migrant single mothers have often experienced discrimination and abuse or abandonment from their partners and/or in-laws, and report such experiences as the main reasons for the divorce or separation.[47]

4.  Discriminatory Policy and Unfair Court Procedures

(a)   Repercussions of the Revised Immigration Control Act (July 2009) on the Livelihoods of Migrant Women

The fact that visa extensions for migrant women often depend on the will and discretion of their Japanese husbands and whether or not the woman has Japanese children, makes their legal standing and livelihood stability in Japan very precarious and vulnerable to the whims of their spouses and the government.  Unfortunately, the government passed an amendment to the Immigration Control Act in July 2009, specifying that migrant women must report any changes to their livelihood situations like changes in address and workplace.  Individuals who fail to do this within 14 days are subject to a fine, and failure to do anything for 3 months could result in visa cancellation.  This revision could escalate fear among migrant women – especially those who are married to or living with an abusive Japanese partner – and would allow Japanese husbands to take advantage of their vulnerabilities thereby putting them in more risk of being abused, while making it more difficult for DV victims to seek rescue and protection.

(b)  Indifference Among Government and Court Officials

A migrant woman who escaped from the abuse and maltreatment of her husband and in-laws who is presently undergoing court procedures for the custody of her child and divorce, was denied a visa extension even with a note from her lawyer stating that she was in the middle of settling a divorce case.  When she verbally appealed to the immigration officer, she was called a liar.  It was not until her lawyer accompanied her that she was considered.[48] From this example, we can see that the court also uses the unstable visa statuses of migrant women as bases for giving custody of the child to the Japanese spouse, thereby denying the woman of the same right to custody, simply because she is “non-Japanese.”  There are many other migrant women who experience similar situations.

(c)   Lack of Means to Claim Rights and Obtain Public Assistance

Furthermore, under the revised immigration law, undocumented residents can no longer claim any public services and assistance through the local municipality offices in the areas in which they live.  Before a local municipal office assumes the responsibilities of accepting a registrant’s child into a local school, extending public assistance to migrant women, etc., it requires one to prove his/her residence in the area.  Proving and registering one’s residence is possible if one obtains a Resident Card from the immigration authorities, but these cards are only issued to “legal” migrants.  The exclusion from local municipal registration therefore means the denial of rights and exclusion from public assistance.  Many undocumented migrants are women who are former wives of Japanese nationals, and are pregnant with or live with children who were born between them and their Japanese partners but have not received official recognition from the father, due to the father’s failure or refusal to do so.  It is these people who are put at risk the most by the revised law.

NGO Recommendations: Summary of Overarching Problems, How They Violate ICERD, and How They are Relevant to the Committee’s List of Issues

Though migrant DV victims, trafficked victims, and single mothers each experience distinct hardships and require policy improvements that are tailored to eradicate the relevant forms of discrimination and disadvantages that they face, five common sources for these problems exist:

  1. The lack of a comprehensive policy that protects the social, economic, cultural, and human rights of migrants, and in particular, migrant women

In violation of Article 2, and in cross-reference to paragraphs 2, 6, 9, and 14 in the Committee’s List of Issues:

l  Currently, within the Basic Law for a Gender-equal Society (which is the national gender equality policy), there is no clause that refers to the considerations that must be made to ensure gender equality for migrant women.  We recommend that within the current deliberations over the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality, there should be an independent clause that addresses measures to be taken to ensure gender equality for migrant and minority women in Japan so that they can possess peace of mind, freedom, and dignity in employment, livelihood, and social participation without being subject to violence, discrimination, and prejudice.  In addition to measures to eradicate DV and trafficking, specific measures for the protection, empowerment, and relief of DV and trafficked victims should be clearly stated in this clause.  Additionally, the government should guarantee permission for NGOs and civil society groups to participate in these deliberations and processes.

  1. Existence of discriminatory policies or policies that disadvantage migrant women in practice

In violation of Articles 2 and 5, and in cross-reference to paragraphs 6, 7, 9, and 14 in the Committee’s List of Issues:

l  The revised Immigration Control Act newly states that status of residence can be revoked for “[f]ailing to continue to engage in activities as a spouse while residing in Japan for more than 6 months,” and for “[f]ailing to register the place of residence within 90 days after newly entering or leaving a former place of residence in Japan.”[49] Such obligations endanger the safety and legal standings of DV victims and their children who intend to flee or have fled from abusive spouses to live separately, and must therefore be eliminated.

l  Before the revision, non-Japanese national residents – regardless of the type or legality of their residence status – were entitled to receiving a local municipality-issued Alien Registration Card if they could provide proof of residence within that local municipality.  This entitled non-Japanese national residents to receive national health insurance and livelihood support services.  However, the new revision abolishes the Alien Registration Card, replacing it with the Residence Card issued and managed by the central government.  Changes in address and workplace must now be reported to local immigration control offices, and failure to do so could result in fines or the revocation of one’s residence status.  Residence Cards are issued to “proper foreign residents” at the discretion of the Minister of Justice, and therefore, undocumented residents and asylum seekers are ineligible.  To receive health and livelihood support in the new system, one must be registered in the newly created Basic Register for Foreign Residents, but registration for this basic registry is contingent on possessing a Residence Card.  In sum, the new revision works as a catch-22 to exclude the most vulnerable migrants – undocumented (women) migrants (many of whom are DV and trafficked victims) – from social services, and must be reevaluated and immediately revised.

  1. Indifference and discriminatory attitudes among public officials (e.g. at immigration control offices, police offices, courts, etc.)

In violation of Articles 2, 4, 6, and 7, and in cross-reference to paragraph 20 in the Committee’s List of Issues:

l  Given the multiple reoccurrences of insensitive, discriminatory, and disadvantageous comments, actions, and attitudes of public officials, sensitivity training on human rights, diversity, and multiculturalism should be more strictly implemented.

  1. Lack of government efforts to establish services to assist, educate, empower, and protect migrant women and their families

In violation of Articles 2 and 5, and in cross-reference to paragraphs 15 and 22 in the Committee’s List of Issues:

l  Although some social and medical services exist for migrant and minority women as well as DV and trafficked victims, they are inadequate (e.g. understaffed and lacking in personnel who possess the necessary professional, linguistic, and cultural knowledge to adequately assist migrant women).  Furthermore, information on support services and the rights that migrant women are entitled to are not adequately disseminated and often do not reach migrant women.  Even if they do, many forms of information are either not detailed enough, or are presented in Japanese.  These inadequacies must be addressed.

  1. Limited government collection and disclosure of crucial statistics concerning migrant women

In violation of Article 7, and in cross-reference to paragraphs 12 and 13 in the Committee’s List of Issues:

l  The government neither collects nor discloses adequate vital statistics that are necessary for the government and the public to assess the current situation of the wellbeing of migrant women in Japan.  For example, the government collects statistics on non-Japanese nationals and residents, but not on individuals who have naturalized (i.e. ethnic minorities with Japanese nationality).  It is possible that such individuals also encounter disadvantages and discrimination, but as of now, there is no systematic way to find out if they do.  In order to develop a more comprehensive and sensitive plan or policy for the protection, integration, and empowerment of migrant women, the Gender Equality Bureau should conduct an in-depth study on the situation and causes of difficulties migrant women face, based on more detailed disaggregated data and in consultation with migrant women support groups.


CHAPTER 8

Racial Discrimination within the Refugee Recognition System

Kenji IWATA

(Rights of Immigrants Network in Kansai (RINK))

Introduction

The Japanese government’s long-standing reluctance to give protection to asylum seekers has been criticized domestically and internationally.[50] The “refugee recognition system” is at best, only ostensibly racism-neutral, and in violation of Articles 2(1(a)) and 5(a), it suffers from unfairness caused by systematic racism that stems from the discriminatory dispositions of the decision makers involved.  More specifically, the government lacks in its efforts to:

  1. adequately disseminate information regarding the refugee recognition process;
  2. provide adequate language assistance during the application and appeals processes;
  3. provide adequate human rights training to its staff; and
  4. implement effective measures to monitor racially discriminatory biases within the system so that the individual racial prejudices of immigration officials and government appointed actors in the refugee recognition process will not be systematically reflected in the outcomes of such procedures.

In addition to paragraphs 2, 3, 6, 7, and 22, and in specific relation to paragraphs 10[51], 15, and 20 in the Committee’s List of Issues (CERD/C/JPN/Q/3-6), we would like to bring to the Committee’s attention, several defining examples of the aforementioned violations to the Convention.

Specific Cases of Procedural Malpractices and Negligence

Case 1 (July 7, 2009):

In 2009, a refugee examination counselor[52] reviewed the testimonies of a Tamil asylum seeker who claimed that he had fled Sri Lanka after his house was shot by suspected LTTE members.  In response to this, and to the surprise of the asylum seeker and his lawyer, the counselor concluded that the attack to the asylum seeker’s house did not constitute a direct threat to his life.  It is disconcerting that the counselor was an honorary professor of a prestigious university in Osaka, Japan, and although many wonder why he was selected as a refugee examination counselor, there is no way to find out because the government does not disclose information on the selection criteria for examination counselors.

Case 2 (November 20, 2006):

The following statement made in 2009 by another Tamil asylum seeker from Baticaloa, Sri Lanka, was documented by an immigration official, but even a cursory glance through the statement reveals blatant contradictions and inconsistencies resulting from communication difficulties between the official and the asylum seeker and the official’s indifference to the asylum seeker’s claims:

“I intended to flee [Sri Lanka] and go to Canada, where my elder brother stayed for asylum because the hostilities between the military and the LTTE have been exacerbated. […] I did not flee the country because I was targeted due to my political opinion, ethnicity, food practices, or religion, and I am not a Convention refugee.  I would like to go back to Sri Lanka without applying for refugee status here.”[53]

The asylum seeker is still having great difficulties communicating in English, and it is likely that in the interview, the asylum seeker could only randomly juxtapose the limited English vocabulary that he had.  In the conversation between the asylum seeker and the official, it is highly unlikely that there was any interaction in English about the applicability of the Convention’s definition for refugees to his case.  This is apparent in the blatant contradictions in the testimonial of this asylum seeker who claimed that he spent a great sum of money to go to Canada for asylum, only to instantly confess that he was not a refugee, abandon his attempt to claim refugee status, and return to the battlefields of Baticaloa.  Of course, the official did not and will not confess his indifference or any underlying racist sentiments he may have had.  Additionally, during the interview, it is unlikely that he used any racist language.  However, his apparent negligence of his duty to accurately communicate with a potential refugee in a language that is well understood by the asylum seeker, and his complete indifference to the highly apparent and inconsistent content of the interview illuminates the racist tendencies he may have had.

Case 3 (May 16, 2006):

Another Sri Lankan man, who could not speak Japanese, was surprised to find out that his interview record stated that he had said in Japanese, that he had overstayed in Japan to earn the necessary money to pay back his debts.  The interview records prepared in advance by the immigration officials as a part of the deportation procedures often serve as convenient excuses for denying the credibility of the claims of asylum seekers.  For example, immigration officials will claim that the asylum seeker initially did not report that he/she was a refugee, and that only later was a claim made for fear of persecution in the home country.

These kinds of procedural malpractices have never been questioned by the refugee counselors.  Regrettably, some refugee counselors also harbor similar racist sentiments, prejudices, and preconceptions – as demonstrated by the counselor in Case 1.  Prejudiced assumptions that asylum seekers are disguised economic migrants often override their ability to make fair judgments and pay serious attention to the provision of due process to the claims presented before them.

The Passive Stance of the Japanese Government

Although the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees requests signatory states, including Japan, to provide protection to refugees and asylum seekers, the Japanese government has long neglected efforts to make the interview process comply with the due process requirements concerning adequate communication and the verification over whether the examiners’ decisions are made in the “spirit of justice and understanding” consistent with the UNHCR’s established guidelines.

The Japanese refugee recognition system is formalized by law.  But in reality, there are many informal and clandestine “traps” for making refugee status claims fail.  For example, the Ministry of Justice has yet to publish detailed information on the refugee recognition process on its website,[54] and the Immigration Bureau (which is part of the Ministry of Justice) has never spent a fraction of its billion yen budget to directly inform potential asylum seekers of the system to encourage them to voluntarily apply for refugee status.  Therefore, many asylum seekers only come to understand the recognition system only after having lived in Japan for many years.  This delay serves as another excuse for denying the seriousness of the asylum seekers’ applications.  As such, without the dissemination of such information, many asylum seekers are being subject to deportation procedures and are being misled into giving up their untold rights before they come to understand the system.  Additionally, their contradictory behavior and statements before immigration officials that arise from the lack of information or communication difficulties are conveniently used to defame and delegitimize their refugee claims.  In sum, the de facto “no information policy” embodies the “informality” of Japan’s refugee recognition system.

Disproportionate Recognitions as a Sign of Non-methodological Recognition Methods

The unreasonably disproportionate recognition of Burmese asylum seekers as refugees is also a reflection of the whimsical nature of Japan’s current refugee recognition process.  In 2008, 1,599 individuals applied for refugee status, of which 954 were Burmese nationals, accounting for 61% of the total.  However, in the same calendar year, 417 individuals were granted refugee status or visas on humanitarian grounds, and the overwhelming majority, or 382, were Burmese asylum seekers, accounting for 92% of all applicants recognized.[55] Of course, from these statistics alone, we cannot deduce whether immigration officials prefer Burmese asylum seekers over others, but with little doubt, we can see the systematic disregard that both the current refugee recognition and appeals process as well as the immigration officials and refugee examination counselors have of the methodologically established procedures that are stated in the UNHCR handbook on criteria for determining refugee status (HCR/IP/4/Eng/REV.1).[56] Given this disregard, the system risks lacking the impartiality of a fair recognition process that does not discriminate on the basis of race.

Conclusion and NGO Recommendations

In sum, in addition to being victims of racist prejudices held by individuals within the Japanese populace, non-Japanese nationals including refugees and asylum seekers in Japan are also vulnerable to systematic and structural racism that is embedded within various institutional and legal frameworks such as the refugee recognition and appeals system.  In addition to making the system more transparent by passing legislation that will allow the videotaping of all interviews during refugee recognition and deportation processes and providing the right for all stakeholders to retrospectively verify all procedures to determine their sincere compliance with the internationally established refugee review procedures, the Japanese government must also be held responsible for the provision of:

  1. language considerations that ensure accurate communication between asylum seekers and immigration officials;
  2. the dissemination of information regarding the refugee recognition and appeals process and one’s rights through posters, brochures, and websites;
  3. comprehensive human rights training programs for government staff/officials; and
  4. more stringent initiatives to monitor, detect, and rectify unlawful and racially discriminatory acts within detention facilities and review/court procedures.

CREDITS

Report contributors (member organizations):

FOREWORD

Ralph Hosoki

(Division of International Human Rights, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

CHAPTER 1

Kaoru Koyama

(Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

Masataka Okamoto

(Vice Secretary-General, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

CHAPTER 2

Debito Arudou

(Chair, NGO Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA))

CHAPTER 3

Nobuyuki Sato

(Research Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan (RAIK))

CHAPTER 4

Masataka Okamoto

(Vice Secretary-General, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

CHAPTER 5

Yasuko Morooka

(Japanese Network for the Institutionalization of Schools for Non-Japanese Nationals and Ethnic Minorities)

CHAPTER 6

Satoru Furuya

(Rights of Immigrants Network in Kansai (RINK))

Kaoru Koyama

(Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

CHAPTER 7

Leny Tolentino

(KALAKASAN Migrant Women Empowerment Center)

CHAPTER 8

Kenji Iwata

(Rights of Immigrants Network in Kansai (RINK))

Editors:

Ralph Hosoki

(Division of International Human Rights, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

Nobuyuki Sato

(Research Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan (RAIK))

Masataka Okamoto

(Vice Secretary-General, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))

Translator:

Ralph Hosoki

(Division of International Human Rights, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ))


[1] “Oldcomer” refers mainly to the Koreans and Chinese (and their descendants) who came (in many cases by means of force) to Japan prior to the end of the war, and remained in Japan.  In contrast, “newcomer” refers to more recent non-Japanese nationals who have come to Japan and settled in and after the 1980s.

[2] “Returnees from China” refer to war-displaced people left behind in China by their Japanese relatives after World War II who returned to Japan in the 1980s.

[3] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2008). Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Combined Periodic Report on the Implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Japan. Retrieved January 18, 2010, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/human/race_rep3.pdf

[4] The Act was passed in 1989 and came into effect on June 1, 1990.

[5] An “overstayer” qualifies if he/she voluntarily turns him/herself in to one of the immigration offices for deportation, and does not have prior records of deportation/use of the Departure Order System and/or imprisonment after entry into Japan.

[6] This new rule stipulates that one’s residence status may be revoked if the individual is found to have submitted false statements or documents and/or if the individual has not engaged in the activities corresponding to those of the residence status issued for three or more months without justifiable reason.

[7] Primary source materials archived at www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html

[8] For example, Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Information Association listed “No Foreigner” hotels on their official website; 2007-2010 (see http://www.tif.ne.jp/).

[9] Arudou, D. (2009). “Japanese Speakers Only” Kyoto Exclusionary Hotel Stands by its Rules. Retrieved November 10, 2009, from Debito.org website: www.debito.org/?p=4879

[10] Arudou, D. (2006). “Japanese Only”: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan. Tokyo: Akashi Shoten.

[11] The Japan Times. (2006, 2 7). Twisted Logic Deals Rights Blow to Foreigners. The Japan Times .

[12] The Japan Times. (2006, 5 2). How to Kill a Bill: Tottori’s Human Rights Ordinance is a Case Study in Alarmism. The Japan Times.

[13] For example: Jinken Yougo Houan wo Kangaeru Shimin no Kai (Citizens’ Group for Thinking about the Human Rights Protection Bill). (2006). Abunai! Jinken Yougo Houan: Semarikuru Senshinkokukei Zentai Shugi no Kyoufu (Danger! The Human Rights Protection Bill and the Impending Threat of the Totalitarianism of the Developed Countries). Tokyo: Tendensha.

[14] “Sangokujin” literally means “third-country nationals,” and is a term which came into use after the war and often connotes derogation and prejudice against individuals – such as Resident Koreans and Taiwanese residents and their descendants – from former Japanese colonies.

[15] Quote taken from an April 11, 2000 Mainichi Daily News article

[16] Bungeishunju. (2003). Shokun! Tokyo: Bungeishunju.

[17] Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva. (2006). Comments on the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Mr. Doudou Diène. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from the IMADR website: http://www.imadr.org/en/pdf/Noteverbale.pdf

[18] In a “comment” made by the government in August 2001 in response to CERD’s recommendations, the government claimed, “[T]here is no fact in the claim that the authorities are urging individuals applying for Japanese nationality to change their names, but instead, the authorities are extensively informing applicants that they can freely determine their post-naturalization names.”

[19] Hangetsujou. (2003). Gendaiban no Soushi-kaimei (The Modern Soshi-kaimei Policy). Hangetsujou Tsuushin, 97.

[20] Ijichi, N. (1994). Zainichi Chosenjin no Namae (The Names of Resident Koreans in Japan). Tokyo: Akashi Shoten.; Also, the following source states in its section on “Names after Naturalization” that, “Newly established names from naturalization will be passed on to one’s descendants, and it is necessary for applicants to take serious consideration of this.” (Ministry of Justice Bureau of Ethnography Fifth Division Research Committee for Nationality Matters (Houmushou Minzokukyoku Dai Go Ka Kokuseki Jitsumu Kenkyuukai) (Ed.). (1990). Shintei Kokuseki/Kika no Jitsumu Soudan (New and Revised Edition: Nationality and Naturalization Consultations). Tokyo: Nihon Kajo Shuppan.)

[21] Yoon, C. (n.d.). Yi Chojya no Sawayaka Intabyuu: Pen Setarin San (Yi Chojya’s Fresh Interview with Penn Setharin). Niji no You Ni , 1.

[22] Input from Toako Matsushiro (member of hand-in-hand Chiba (Chiba Group for Holding Hands with Foreign Residents in Japan))

[23] Tazawa International Administrative Scrivener Office. (2005). Kikago no Shimei ni tsuite Omou Koto: Zainichi Korian no Katagata no Kika Shinsei wo Otetsudai Shiteite (Thoughts about “Name Changes after Naturalization”: Through Helping Resident Koreans with Their Naturalization Applications). Retrieved February 2005, from Tazawa International Administrative Scrivener Office website: http://www.tazawa-jp.com/office/kikago-shimei.htm

[24] Zheng, Y. (1998). Kikasha he no Intabyuu (1) “Zainichi Chuugokujin 3 Sei” (Interviews with Individuals Who have Naturalized (1) “A Third-generation Resident Chinese”). Retrieved December 2009, from Nihonseki Korian Mainoriti no Hiroba (Plaza for Japanese National Korean Minorities): http://www.geocities.jp/yonamugun/intabyu1.htm

[25] Asakawa, A. (2003). Zainichi Gaikokujin to Kika Seido (Resident Foreigerns in Japan and the Naturalization Process). Tokyo: Shinkan Sha.

[26] According to a 2007 MEXT-commissioned survey on non-Japanese national children conducted by 13 cities and 1 prefecture with high percentages of newcomer non-Japanese national residents, 61% of non-Japanese national children attended Japanese schools, 21% attended schools for non-Japanese national children, 1.1% did not attend school at all, and 17.5% were “unknown.”  It is estimated that a large portion of these “unknown” respondents are also not attending school.  However, according to this study, even Kani City in Gifu prefecture, which has taken the most progressive measures to leave no non-Japanese national child behind, had a non-attendance rate of 7% in 2006.

[27] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2008). Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Combined Periodic Report on the Implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Japan. Retrieved January 18, 2010, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/human/race_rep3.pdf

[28] “With regard to the implementation of compulsory education for foreigners, no such imperative exists in the Constitution and Basic Education Law. […] As long as the individual is a foreigner, no obligation arises to send the child to elementary or junior high school.” (Suzuki, I. (Ed.). (2006). Chikujyou Gakkou Kyouiku Hou (Clause-by-Clause Review of the School Education Act). Tokyo: Gakuyo Shobo.)

[29] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2008). Ibid.

[30] Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. (2007). Gaikokujin no Kodomo no Fushuugaku Jittai Chousa no Kekka ni Tsuite (On the Results of the Study on the Situation of Non-attendance Among Foreign Children). Retrieved January 10, 2010, from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology website: http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/shotou/clarinet/003/001/012.htm

[31] Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2008). Ibid.

[32] Kyoto City Foreigner Education Project and Kyoto City Education Board (Kyoutoshi Gaikokujin Kyouiku Purojekuto and Kyoutoshi Kyouiku Iinkai). (2008). Gaikokuseki oyobi Gaikoku ni Ruutsu wo Motsu Jidou Seito ni Kansuru Jittai Chousa no Matome (Summary of the Study on the Situation of Foreign National Students and Students with Foreign Roots). Retrieved September 19, 2008, from the Kyoto City website: http://www.city.kyoto.lg.jp/kyoiku/cmsfiles/contents/0000059/59348/zittait.pdf

[33] As of October 2007, there were 96 Brazilian schools, 5 Chinese/Taiwanese schools, 73 North Korean schools, 4 South Korean schools, 2 Peruvian schools, 2 German schools, 1 Indian school, 1 Indonesian school, 1 Turkish school, 1 Filipino school, 1 Amerasian school, 1 French school, and 24 international schools in Japan. (2007 Forum for Multiethnic Co-existence Education in Tokyo Executive Committee (Taminzoku Kyousei Kyouiku Foramu 2007 Toukyou Jikkou Iinkai). (2007). 2007 Forum for Multiethnic Co-existence Education in Tokyo Information Packet. 2007 Forum for Multiethnic Co-existence Education in Tokyo Executive Committee.)

[34] On March 24, 2007, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations submitted a recommendation to the Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology “concerning the human rights redress petition for discriminatory treatment regarding the application of designated donations to Chinese and North Korean schools.” (Japan Federation of Bar Associations. (2008). Kankokusho (Recommendation). Retrieved January 10, 2010, from the Japan Federation of Bar Associations website: http://www.nichibenren.or.jp/ja/opinion/hr_case/data/080324.pdf);

Additionally, in paragraph 31 of its concluding observations, the Human Rights Committee also issued a recommendation of the same nature to the Japanese government in October 2008. (United Nations Human Rights Committee. (2008). Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 40 of the Covenant: Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee (Japan). Retrieved January 10, 2010, from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/co/CCPR-C-JPN-CO.5.doc)

[35] Besides claiming that there are “many” who were arrested, no further analyses have been conducted.  Such comments only serve to create vague impressions and are misleading.

[36] From a press conference with the Minister of Justice (March 28, 2006), Internet official government announcements, the 2006 Immigration Control Report, etc.  However, the English version of the 2006 Immigration Control Report does not make reference to point (1). (Ministry of Justice. (2006, 3 28). Daijin Kakugigo Kisha Kaiken no Gaiyou (Summary of the Post-cabinet Meeting Minister News Conference). Retrieved November 24, 2009, from the Ministry of Justice website: http://www.moj.go.jp/kaiken/point/sp060328-01.html; Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau. (2006). 2006 Immigration Control Report. Retrieved November 24, 2009, from the Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau website: http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan54-3.pdf)

[37] This refers to crimes that have been recorded in police records, but not recorded in legal criminal records.

[38] The Yomiuri Shimbun (The Yomiuri Newspaper). (2007, 6 23). “Teijyuusha” Biza Koushin wo Keishou Jiko Riyuu ni Fukyoka: Nikkei Kazoku “Sabetsu” to Teiso/Toukyou Chisai (Minor Injury Accident as Reason for “Long-term Resident” Visa Extension Rejection: “Discrimination” Against a Nikkei Family and Lawsuit/Tokyo District Court). The Yomiuri Shimbun.

[39] However, in both cases, by claiming changes to their personal (or spousal) relationships to Japanese nationals or reapplying, both individuals were eventually able to obtain residence statuses.

[40] Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. (2008). For Foreign Nationals Wishing to Work in Japan (Nihon de Hatarakou to suru Gaikokujin no Minasama he). Retrieved January 3, 2010, from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare website: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/bunya/koyou/gaikokujin12/pdf/english.pdf

[41] From an informal sharing with a victim by a KALAKASAN staff member (2009)

[42] Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. (2009). Annual Number of Marriages by Nationality of Husband and Wife. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from the Portal Site of Official Statistics of Japan: http://www.e-stat.go.jp/SG1/estat/List.do?lid=000001057779

[43] Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. (2009). Population by Year and Sex. Retrieved January 21, 2010, from the Portal Site of Official Statistics of Japan: http://www.e-stat.go.jp/SG1/estat/List.do?lid=000001057781;

Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau. (2004-2008). Number or Registered Foreigners. Retrieved January 21, 2010, from the Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau website: http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/toukei/index.html

[44] Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. (2008). 2008 Government Information Session for the National Research Commitee for Counselors at Facilities for the Protection of Women. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from the Welfare and Medical Service Network System: http://www3.wam.go.jp/wamappl/bb16GS70.nsf/0/806448c690707b914925750500052b90/$FILE/20081117_2shiryou1.pdf

[45] Experiences from cases handled by KALAKASAN

[46] Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. (2009). Annual Number and Percentages of Divorces by Nationality of Husband and Wife. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from the Portal Site of Official Statistics of Japan:

http://www.e-stat.go.jp/SG1/estat/List.do?lid=000001057780

[47] Experiences from cases handled by KALAKASAN

[48] This is one of the cases that KALAKASAN started handling in 2009.

[49] Immigration Bureau of Japan. (2009). Changes to the Immigration Control Act. Retrieved January 10, 2010, from the Immigration Bureau website: http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact/pdf/leaflet_english.pdf

[50] Isozaki, Y. (2002). Questioning Japan’s “Closed Country” Policy on Refugees. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from the Iwanami Shoten website: http://www.iwanami.co.jp/jpworld/text/ClosedCountry01.html; Japan Federation of Bar Associations. (2002). Toward the Reform of the Refugee Recognition System. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from the Japan Federation of Bar Associations website: http://www.nichibenren.or.jp/en/activities/meetings/20021201.html

[51] No financial assistance is granted to persons with refugee status, although some refugee applicants receive under 100,000 yen (about $1,000 USD) per month for a limited period during their administrative refugee review process.

[52] Refugee examination counselors are third-party part-time public servants (on two year contracts) who serve as observers/advisors during appeals to refugee recognition denials. (also see: Ministry of Justice. (2006). Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from the Ministry of Justice website: http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/information/icrr-20.html)

[53] Interview document disclosed by the Immigration Bureau in 2007

[54] Ministry of Justice. (n.d.). Ministry of Justice Home Page. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from the Ministry of Justice website: http://www.moj.go.jp/ENGLISH/

[55] Ministry of Justice Immigration Bureau. (2009). Press Release on the Number of Recognized Refugees in 2008. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from the Ministry of Justice website: http://www.moj.go.jp/PRESS/090130-1.html

[56] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (1992). Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. Retrieved November 1, 2009, from the UNHCR website: http://www.unhcr.org/publ/PUBL/3d58e13b4.pdf

ENDS

Calling all Debito.org readers: “Japanese Only” signs in Kansai, Nagoya, and Kanto areas? For March 2010 UN inspection.

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Japan is coming under review this month at the OHCHR CERD Committee again (it happens every two years), and I have submitted chapter to them in as part of an NGO group effort (more on that later).

I have just heard that the United Nations will be coming to visit Japan again in late March to see how she’s doing regarding keeping her promise to eliminate with racial discrimination.  (Information about previous UN visits here.)

I know for a fact that “Japanese Only” etc. signs and rules are up around Japan in various guises and places of visit.  After all, there’s no law against it.  So I have been asked to help out giving a tour of these places in the Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and/or Tokyo areas.

So let me ask Debito.org readers:  Do you know of any places open to the public in these areas that explicitly refuse NJ (or those who look like NJ) entry and service?  The best places actually have a sign up saying so.  If so, please send me (to debito@debito.org) 1) a snap photo (cellphone ok) of the sign, 2) a snap of the storefront with the sign visible, 3) the name and approximate address of the place and date of photos.  I’ll do the rest.

(Please say “Japanese Only sign submission for UN” in the submission’s subject line?)

Thanks for helping out.  Arudou Debito in Banff.

Saturday Tangent: Word from Copenhagen Summit, Eric Johnston blog

mytest

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Hi Blog.  A reporter I really respect, Eric Johnston of the Japan Times, is currently over in Copenhagen covering the COP15 UN Conference on Climate Change.  He is maintaining a daily blog on what it’s like to be a scribe in the thick of it.  Interesting reading (especially the entry on a day in the life — I’d burn out at that pace long before the conference ended).  A nice diversion on a Saturday morning, have a read.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

http://blog.japantimes.co.jp/cop15/category/behind-the-scenes/

UN News: “Ending complacency key to fighting discrimination worldwide”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I put this up on the heels of yesterday’s blog entry, where we had a couple people seriously arguing that an exchange student, who felt victimized by her unsupported status in the Japanese education system, was in some way herself to blame — in that she was being culturally ignorant or insensitive (since coping strategies for foreigners in Japan apparently shouldn’t involve complaining, or trying to change people’s hearts re discrimination).

I asserted that the UN wouldn’t agree with those sentiments.  Just letting discriminatory activities slide is precisely part of the problem, sez below.  Let’s bear that in mind when we see somebody trying to do something about people treating other people badly, and give them the benefit of the doubt that they are acting in good faith to improve the lot for everyone in Japan.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

////////////////////////////////////////////////

ENDING COMPLACENCY KEY TO FIGHTING DISCRIMINATION, UN HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF SAYS
UN News, New York, Dec 8 2009 4:05PM
The United Nations human rights chief today called on individuals everywhere to consider how they can fight discrimination beginning in their own homes and workplaces, stressing the need to overcome complacency which only contributes to the scourge.

“You cannot defeat discrimination by shutting your eyes to it and hoping that it will go away. Complacency is discrimination’s best friend,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told a news conference in Geneva, ahead of this year’s Human Rights Day.

The theme of this year’s Day, observed annually on 10 December, is “Embrace Diversity: End Discrimination,” and Ms. Pillay shared how she confronted her own prejudices in an earlier stage of her life shaped by the fact that she grew up in apartheid-era South Africa.

“We all, and here I include myself, have a tendency to hold ingrained prejudices against certain people because of the group they belong to rather than because of who they actually are as individuals.

“It is my hope that starting on this Human Rights Day, people will begin making an extra effort to think about these issues, and about how they as individuals can take action in their own homes, in the workplace and in society at large to first of all identify discrimination, and then tackle it, wherever it raises its ugly head,” said the High Commissioner.

As part of the commemoration of the Day, Ms. Pillay will be in South Africa to preside over a panel of high-level judges sitting in the first ever World Human Rights Moot Court competition at the University of Pretoria. Students worldwide will argue a fictional human rights case on the principle of non-discrimination at the event organized by the university and supported by the UN human rights office.

Then on 10 December she will speak, along with representatives from the Government, civil society and academia, at a public celebration planned for Freedom Park, which will also feature a performance from South African singer Yvonne Chaka-Chaka.

The Day, which commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly in 1948, will be marked with numerous other events worldwide.
________________

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

http://www.un.org/news/dh/latest/subscribe.shtml

ENDS

Post #1500!: Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Dec 1 2009 on making Japan more attractive to immigrants (with links to sources)

mytest

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Hi Blog. Indulge me a sec: I’m pleased to announce that this marks my 1500th post since the Debito.org blog first began its daily updates in June 2006. Because 365 days times the 3.5 years since 2006 equals 1278 posts, that means we’ve been posting an average of more than one blog entry a day, consistently, for a third of a decade. Not bad. Carrying on — with my latest column today in the JT. Enjoy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
justbecauseicon.jpg

A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD FOR IMMIGRANTS
Policy suggestions to make Japan more attractive to newcomers
By Arudou Debito
JUST BE CAUSE Column 22 / ZEIT GIST Column 51
Published in the Japan Times Tues Dec 1, 2009

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20091201ad.html
DRAFT ELEVEN, as submitted post revisions to the Japan Times
Version with links to sources

For the first time in Japan’s postwar history, we have a viable opposition party in power, one that might stick around long enough to make some new policies stick. In my last column for 2009, let me suggest how the Democratic Party of Japan could make life easier for Japan’s residents — regardless of nationality.

My proposals can be grouped into four categories: immigration, policing, human rights protections and public relations. Each in turn:

I) Immigration. Despite Japan’s looming demographic disaster — you know, the aging society and population drop due to low birthrates and record-long life spans — we still have no immigration policy. No wonder: The people charged with dealing with Non-Japanese (NJ) — i.e. the Ministry of Justice’s Immigration Bureau and sundry business-sector organizations — just police NJ while leeching off their labor. Essentially, their goal is to protect Japan from the outside world: keep refugees out, relegate migrant workers to revolving-door contracted labor conditions, and leash NJ to one- to three-year visas. For NJ who do want to settle, the Justice Ministry’s petty and arbitrary rules can make Permanent Residency (PR) and naturalization procedures borderline masochistic.

This cannot continue, because Japan is at a competitive disadvantage in the global labor market. Any immigrant with ambitions to progress beyond Japan’s glass ceiling (that of either factory cog or perpetual corporate flunky) is going to stay away. Why bother learning Japanese when there are other societies that use, say, English, that moreover offer better lifetime opportunities? It’s time we lost our facile arrogance, and stopped assuming that the offer of a subordinate and tenuous life in a peaceful, rich and orderly society is attractive enough to make bright people stay. We also have to be welcoming and help migrants to settle.

Suggestions: 1) We need a new immigration ministry, independent of the Ministry of Justice, to supplant the Immigration Bureau. It would decide clear and public standards for:

● what kinds of immigrants we want

● how we can give immigrants what they want, and

● how to make immigrants into Japanese, both in law and in spirit.

2) We need to loosen up a little. This would mean implementing policies often standard in countries with successful records of assimilating immigrants, such as:

● less time-consuming and arbitrary standards for awarding PR and citizenship

● faster-track PR and job-finding assistance for graduates of our schools and universities

dual (or multiple) nationality

citizenship granted by birth in Japan (not just blood)

● equal registration as “residents” (not merely as foreigners on separate rosters to police and track)

● equal access by merit to credit and loans (most credit agencies will not lend to NJ without PR)

● stable jobs not segregated by nationality (and that includes administrative-level positions in the civil service)

● qualifying examinations that allow for non-natives’ linguistic handicaps, including simplified Japanese and furigana above kanji characters

visa programs that do not split families up

● periodic amnesties for long-term overstayers who have been contributing to Japan in good faith, and

● minority schools funded by the state that teach children about their bicultural heritage, and teach their parents the Japanese language

It’s not all that hard to understand what immigrants need. Most want to work, to get ahead, to make a better life for their children — just like any Japanese. Recognize that, and enforce equal access to the fruits of society — just like we would for any Japanese.

II) Policing. As in any society, police are here to maintain law and order. The problem is that our National Police Agency has an explicit policy mandate to see internationalization itself as a threat to public order. As discussed here previously, NPA policy rhetoric talks about protecting “citizens” (kokumin) from crimes caused by outsiders (even though statistics show that the insiders, both in terms of numbers and percentages, commit a disproportionate amount of crime). This perpetual public “othering and criminalizing” of the alien must stop, because police trained to see Japan as a fortress to defend will only further alienate NJ.

Suggestions: To make the NPA citadel more open and accountable, we must:

● create clear guidelines for the NPA to stop racial profiling in basic interactions, and create an agency for complaints about police that is not managed by the police

● amend laws (particularly the Foreign Registry Law; NJ should also be covered by the Police Execution of Duties Law, which forbids searches without probable cause) so that NJ are no longer more vulnerable than Japanese vis-a-vis random street investigations

● make NPA manuals public (to see how police are being trained to deal with NJ), then revise and retrain so that police see their mandate as protecting everyone (not just citizens)

● hire non-native speakers as police to work as interlocutors in investigations

● create “whistleblower status” to protect and shelter NJ who provide evidence of being employed illegally (currently, overstayers reporting their exploitative employers to the police are simply arrested, then deported to face reprisal overseas)

● take refugee issues away from the Justice Ministry and give them to a more flexible immigration ministry — one able to judge asylum seekers by conditions in their countries of origin, and by what they can offer Japan

III) Human rights protections. Once immigrants become minorities here, they must be protected from the xenophobes found in any society.

Suggestions:

● Grant the Bureau of Human Rights (or an independent human rights bureau within the proposed immigration ministry) enforcement and punitive powers (not to mention create an obligation to make the results of their investigations public).

● Strengthen labor laws so that, for example, abusive and unlawful contracts are punished under criminal law (currently, labor disputes are generally dealt with by time-consuming civil courts or ineffectual labor tribunals).

● Create and enforce laws upholding the spirit of pertinent United Nations treaties, including the Conventions on Civil and Political Rights, the Rights of the Child, and the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

● Most importantly — and this underpins everything — create a criminal law against racial discrimination. Include criminal penalties to stop all those places we know so well (businesses, hotels, landlords etc.) enforcing “Japanese Only” rules with impunity.

Of course, some of these proposals are practically impossible to adopt now, but we had better get the public softened up to them soon. The smart migrants won’t come if they know they will remain forever second-class residents, even if they naturalize. Their rights are better protected in other countries, so that’s where they’ll head instead of our fine shores.

IV) Public relations. This is the easiest task, because it won’t involve much tax outlay. The government must make clear statements, as Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama did last month at an APEC summit, indicating that immigration is a good thing for Japan, and stress the positive contributions that NJ have made so far. The media have focused too heavily on how NJ can’t sort their garbage. Now it’s time to show the public how NJ will sort us out for the future.

We are about to start a new decade. This past one has been pretty rotten for NJ residents. Recall the campaigns: Kicked off by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s “Sankokujin Speech” in 2000, where he called upon the Self-Defense Forces to round up foreigners in the event of a natural disaster, we have had periodic public panics (al-Qaida, SARS, H1N1, the G8 Summits and the World Cup), politicians, police and media bashing foreigners as criminals and terrorists, the reinstitution of fingerprinting, and increased NJ tracking through hotels, workplaces and RFID (radio-frequency identification) “gaijin cards”. In other words, the 2000s saw the public image of NJ converted from “misunderstood outsider” to “social destabilizer”; government surveys even showed that an increasing majority of Japanese think NJ deserve fewer human rights!

Let’s change course. If Hatoyama is as serious as he says he is about putting legislation back in the hands of elected officials, it’s high time to countermand the elite bureaucratic xenophobes that pass for policymakers in Japan. Grant some concessions to non-citizens to make immigration to Japan more attractive.

Otherwise, potential immigrants will just go someplace else. Japan, which will soon drop to third place in the ranking of world economies, will be all the poorer for it.

ENDS

1381 WORDS

Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” This article with links to sources at www.debito.org/?p=5295. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments on this issue and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp

UN CERD Questions to GOJ re elimination of racial discrim (CERD/C/JPN/Q/3-6 Nov 17 2009, Advance Unedited Version)

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Hi Blog. Here’s the United Nations CERD Committee giving the Japanese Government its due for its Third through Sixth Report (Japan is supposed to submit a report, on what it’s doing to eliminate domestic racial discrimination, every two years since it became a Signatory in 1996.  That should be a total of six times by now; however, it has only submitted twice so far, lumping them together.  Hazukashii).  These are questions the UN wants answered before its periodic review of Japan in February of next year.   Have a look.

We activists have already readied our counterreports for submission to the UN (I was asked some weeks ago to cover refusals of NJ by businesses; I handed in an 800-worder, which I’ll have up here in due course).  Let’s see how the GOJ tries to squirm out of it this time (see last time and the time before that here).  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UNITED NATIONS ADVANCE UNEDITED VERSION

CERD

International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination Distr.

GENERAL

CERD/C/JPN/Q/3-6

17 November 2009

Original:  ENGLISH

COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION

OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

Seventy- sixth session

15 February – 12 March 2010

Courtesy http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/docs/AdvanceVersions/CERD-C-JPN-6-Add1.doc

QUESTIONS BY THE RAPPORTEUR

IN CONNECTION WITH THE CONSIDERATION OF

THE THIRD TO SIXTH PERIODIC REPORTS OF

JAPAN (CERD/C/JPN/3-6)

Composition of the population

1.                 As follow-up to the Committee’s previous concluding observations, [1] please provide full details on the composition of the population, including on economic and social indicators reflecting the situation of all groups covered by the Convention, including resident Koreans, returnees from China, the Buraku and Okinawa communities as well as immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

General information and institutional framework

2.                 Please indicate whether and to what extent non-governmental organizations were consulted in the preparation of the State party’s third to sixth periodic reports to the Committee.

Article 1

3.                 Please clarify the relationship between the Convention and domestic law, citing, where possible, examples of cases where the Convention was used by domestic courts for interpretative purposes.

4.                 Reiterating the Committee’s previous concluding observations[2]as well as the Committee’s General Recommendation No. 29 on “descent”, please indicate how the State party has integrated the concept of descent-based discrimination in its laws and regulations in order to ensure the full enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights by persons belonging to or descending from the Buraku community.

5.                 Please comment on reports according to which resident Koreans applying for Japanese nationality are still urged to change their Korean names to Japanese names, and that they often feel obliged to do so for fear of discrimination in the context of education, employment and marriage.

Article 2

6.                 With regard to the Committee’s previous concluding observations,[3] please indicate whether the State party intends to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law in line with the provisions of the Convention.

7.                 Please indicate whether any independent body specifically appointed to respond to complaints with regard to discrimination faced by, among others, persons from the Buraku, Ainu, Okinawa and resident Korean communities exists in the State party or whether there are any plans for the establishment of such body. More generally, please indicate whether the State party intends to establish a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles (General Assembly resolution 48/134, annex).

8.                 Please comment on allegations that some professionals and local civil servants with access to confidential family registration databases use their authority to create and update lists known as “Buraku Lists” and to sell information on ancestry, birth place and domicile to credit services and private investigators conducting background investigations to determine if a potential employee or marriage partner comes from a Buraku community. Please indicate what measures have been taken by the central administrative authority to ensure respect for privacy and to address violations and abuse in this regard. Also please indicate if there are any plans to modify the existing family registration system based on ancestry and to introduce a requirement by which access to personal information would be permitted only with the informed consent of the person concerned.

9.                 Please explain why the State party has not endorsed the Human Rights Protection Bill, provide an update on its current status and indicate the measures that will be included under its revised version (State party report, CERD/C/JPN/3-6, para. 34).

10.              Please provide more detailed information on the current refugee determination procedures and the provision that financial assistance to persons with refugee status is usually granted for four months only, even though the average time required to process an application is two years (State party report, CERD/C/JPN/3-6, para. 28).

Article 4

11.              While noting that a number of measures have been adopted to guarantee  uses of the Internet which do not infringe the rights of others, the Committee nonetheless  invites comments on reports stating that instances of intolerance and discriminatory attacks through the Internet continue and include posting of anonymous hateful messages and threats against certain communities, including in particular the Buraku and resident Koreans, as well as the use of internet maps and search engines to obtain and share personal information on family names and housing location of members or descendants from these communities. Please indicate to what extent the Provider Liability Limitation Law of 2004 has been applied to counter such abuse of the Internet or what other actions have been taken.  Further, please indicate which of the findings of the “Study Group on Actions against Illegal and Harmful Information on the Internet” established in 2005 have been implemented so far (State party report, CERD/C/JPN/3-6, para. 42).

Article 5

12.              Please provide information on measures taken to recruit more members of the Ainu and Okinawa communities into the public administration of the State party, including the law enforcement agencies. Please provide additional statistical information on employment rates of members of the groups covered by the Convention in the civil service. Please also comment on reports that discrimination often occurs with regards to recruitment and employment and the fact that members of communities or their descendants, including the Ainu, Buraku and migrants of Japanese descent, are highly overrepresented in unstable, ‘blue collar’ work in small- and medium-size companies,  and underrepresented in management positions.

13.              Please provide additional disaggregated data and information on the Program to accelerate Foreigners’ Adaptation to the Life Environment established since 2007 and on the scope of recipients targeted by this programme (State party report, CERD/C/JPN/3-6, para. 55). Please indicate whether this program also covers foreign spouses of Japanese citizens and children of intercultural marriages, or whether any other programmes exist to facilitate their integration in society.

14.              Please provide detailed information on measures adopted to protect the rights of migrant workers.

15.              Please indicate the measures taken to address disadvantages faced by communities such as the Ainu, Okinawan, Buraku, resident Korean, Chinese permanent residents as well as non-nationals in their access to education, employment, adequate standards of living and healthcare. By what means are these measures monitored and what specific indicators are used to monitor progress?

16.              Please provide information on measures taken to provide remedies for resident Korean retirees who have no access to pension benefits because of the National Pension Act.[4]

17.              Please clarify the indicators and targets underlying the statement that “the decrease in public assistance ratio shows the positive effects of the Hokkaido Utari measures” (CERD/C/JPN/3-6, paras. 10-14). Please mention what the concrete effects of these measures were on higher education, stable employment, skill training and annual average household income as compared to the national average. How does the State party ensure full participation of Ainu people in the establishment of a comprehensive development policy? Further, please indicate the timeframe for the enactment of legislation on Ainu issues and the establishment of an advisory or consultative body on Ainu affairs as per the final report of the Government’s Expert Panel on Ainu Policy.

18.              Please explain why the Ryūkyūan/Okinawan Japanese are not considered an indigenous people or national minority by the State party, and state whether there are measures in place to protect, preserve and promote their cultural heritage and ways of life and recognize their land rights. Please clarify the State party’s understanding of the concept of “indigenous people”.

19.              According to information received, children of foreign origin, including South Americans of Japanese descent, children of migrant workers and resident Korean minorities, often attend parallel schools or “miscellaneous schools” whose accreditation depends on prefectural governments, and which are not always acknowledged as official schools. In this context, please indicate the disaggregated enrolment rates in compulsory education, rates of children advancing into higher education, and enrolment rates in university of children of migrant workers, resident Koreans and other minorities.  What institutional and financial measures exist to guarantee the rights of all children to receive an education, including access to education in minority languages as previously recommended by the Committee? Please specify the measures taken to prevent and counteract the harassment of resident Korean children attending North and South Korean schools (State party report, CERD/C/JPN/3-6, para. 26).

Article 7

20.              In addition to information presented in the State party report (CERD/C/JPN/3-6, paras. 35 and 46-49), please provide further information on specific human rights training programmes and courses that have been provided to members of the judiciary, law enforcement officials, teachers, social workers and other public officials. Please include information on the course contents and follow-up.

21.              With regard to the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on racism following his visit to Japan,[5] please provide information on measures taken concerning the process of writing and teaching of history objectively and accurately.

22.              Please provide further information on the awareness-raising activities and human rights education activities directed at the public at large at the prefectural level and throughout the country. Please provide information on the evaluation of the impact of awareness-raising campaigns, training and education programmes on entrenched attitudes and behaviour relating to issues which fall within the scope of the Convention.

– – – – –


[1] CERD/C/304/Add.114, paras. 7, 22.

[2] CERD/C/304/Add.114, para. 8.

[3] CERD/C/304/Add.114, para. 10.

[4] In this regard, see also the relevant recommendation of the Special Rapporteur on racism following his visit to Japan in July 2005, E/CN.4/2006/16/Add.2, para. 91.

[5] E/CN.4/2006/16/Add.2 para. 82.

ENDS

Speaking tomorrow, Thurs Nov 5, Sapporo Gakuin Dai 「法の下の平等と在住外国人」

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Speaking in Japanese tomorrow, FYI, at Sapporo Gakuin.
Thursday November 5, 2009 1PM. 札幌学院大学法学部公開講座リレー講義「人権・共生・人間の尊重 あらためてその理念と現実を考える」第7回「法の下の平等と在住外国人」。札幌学院大学D202教室にて。
http://www.sgu.ac.jp/other/do050b0000000bdm-att/j09tjo0000000aes.pdf

Powerpoint here.
http://www.debito.org/sgu110509.ppt

Have a look! Or come see. Debito

UN Refugee Film Festival Oct 1-8 in Tokyo Shibuya-ku

mytest

UNHCR Refugee Film Festival in Tokyo (October 1-8, 2009), bringing 20 feature and
documentary films from around the globe, including several Oscar-nominated movies
about refugees. More info to come on: http://unhcr.refugeefilm.org
Several international and Japanese filmmakers are attending the event.

Kirill Konin
Refugee Film Festival in Tokyo
Oct 1-8, 2009
http://unhcr.refugeefilm.org/index-e.php

UN Refugee Agency
Tokyo Office
6th floor, UN House
5-53-70 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo,
150-0001, Japan
Cell +81 (0)90-923-555-77
Tel: +81-3-3499-2308
Fax: +81-3-3499-2272
ENDS

Otaru Onsens Case 10th Anniv.#1: News Station Oct 12, 1999 on Ana Bortz Verdict YouTubed

mytest

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OTARU ONSENS TAPE (1999-2003) PART ONE

All TV shows in Japanese (no subtitles or dubbing) with amateur editing

By Arudou Debito (www.debito.org, debito@debito.org)

Total time:  2 hours 20 minutes.  Recorded on one VHS tape in 3X format.

CONTENTS WITH TEACHING NOTES

1) TV ASAHI NEWS STATION on ANA BORTZ DECISION (Nationally broadcast October 12, 1999) (10 minutes).  National broadcast.  Describes the first court decision regarding racial discrimination in Japan, citing the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the fact that Japan has no law against racial discrimination.

Imbedded video follows.  If you would like to download and watch this broadcast in mp4 format on your iPod, click here:  http://www.debito.org/video/anabortz101299.mp4 (NB:  if you want it to download as a file, not open up in a different browser:  right-click for Windows users, or Control + Click for Macs)

COMMENT:  What’s remarkable about this broadcast is how thoroughly it describes the Bortz Case and the UN CERD.  Also the videotape, from Sebido Jewelry Store security cameras in Hamamatsu, showing the owner refusing Ana quite forcefully.  It is the most sympathetic broadcast to come out during the Otaru Onsens Case, and unfortunately it would come at the very beginning, before the media really lost the point.

(Shortly after being YouTubed, there was a complaint from a viewer in Japanese that this report wasn’t balanced because it didn’t give the store’s perspective.  Actually, the store refused to comment for this broadcast.)

The Ana Bortz Lawsuit would inject new energy into the Otaru Onsens Case (which first started in earnest on September 19, 1999, about a month before), offering positive legal precedent for the onsens to take their signs down.  Shortly afterwards, one did (Onsen Panorama).  The other two, Onsen Osupa, would take until March 2000 and a lot of beers and making friends with the owner.  The last one (in Otaru, at least), Onsen Yunohana would take until January 2001, nearly fifteen months and a lot of events later, on the day that we announced that we would be suing them.  Then, and only then, and Yunohana only replaced it with a new set of exclusionary rules.  It would take several years to prove this, but these moves would be a losing formula for them in court.  More in my book JAPANESE ONLY.

Next up, the broadcasts which painted this issue as a matter of “cultural misunderstandings” and lost the point — that this discrimination is a matter of race, not culture.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

THE OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT, TEN YEARS ON: Article for Japonesia Review

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Today is the tenth anniversary of our visit, on September 19, 1999,  to “Japanese Only” Yunohana Onsen et al in Otaru, a life-changing event that to this day has not been fully resolved — mainly because we still don’t have a law against racial discrimination in Japan.  This situation remains more than 13 years after Japan effecting of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, where it promised to take “all measures, including legislation” to effectively eliminate all forms of RD.  And it deserves comment and reflection after years of protests, two books, countless articles, and successful lawsuits against the onsen (albeit not against the negligent City of Otaru).

I wrote this article by invitation for the Japonesia Review last January and submitted it in February.  After more than seven months’ wait, I see no reason not to publish it here in advance on Debito.org on this auspicious occasion.  Written in a simpler style for a non-native audience, there are some anachronisms within (such as regarding FRANCA’s founding).  Enjoy.

My thoughts on this day are bittersweet.  I know we did the right thing (as Olaf noted, when I called him today, people are still talking about the case), and we had a good outcome in court.  But I judge things like this based upon whether or not they could ever happen again.  The answer is, unfortunately, yes.  After all, all Yunohana Onsen has to do is put up another “Japanese Only” sign and we’d have to take them to court all over again just to get it down.  There is no law to stop it, nothing for authorities to enforce.  Ten years later, it feels more overdue now than in 1999.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

ARTICLE BEGINS:

======================================

THE OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT:  TEN YEARS ON

What has and has not changed regarding human rights for Non-Japanese in Japan.

ARUDOU DEBITO

DebitoYunohana5

Photo Caption:  The author in front of Yunohana Onsen, Otaru.

(Photo courtesy Shouya Grigg of Kookan.com)

For publication in Japonesia Review 2009, Submitted February 3, 2009 and still not published.

DRAFT ONE

PREFACE:  BACKGROUND ON THE OTARU ONSENS CASE

On September 19, 1999, a group of seventeen people went to take a bath at a “super sento” (public bathhouse) named Yunohana Onsen (www.yunohana.org) in Otaru, Hokkaido.  All seventeen were Japanese, except for three Caucasian males (including the author) from America and Germany, and one Chinese woman from Shanghai.  She, like the non-Japanese (NJ) men, was married to a Japanese and came to Yunohana as an international family.  We had heard over the Internet that Yunohana, Otaru’s largest bathhouse, was not only refusing entry to NJ, they were even openly displaying a “JAPANESE ONLY” sign on their front door in three languages (Japanese, English, and Russian).

onsenyunohanasign.jpg

Caption:  Yunohana Onsen’s exclusionary sign, 1999

As soon as everyone had entered and bought tickets, we were told that the three Caucasian males in our group (your author included) were not allowed inside.

Consulting with the manager on duty, we heard Yunohana’s justification:  Russian sailors (who at the time were frequent visitors to and traders with Otaru) had a history of not following bathhouse rules, therefore were not allowed in because they might cause trouble and inconvenience Japanese customers.  When we made it clear that we were neither Russian sailors nor troublemakers, Yunohana said it did not matter:  “Refusing only Russians would be discrimination.  So we refuse all foreigners equally.”

All foreigners?  All.  “How about our Chinese friend you allowed in?”  As soon as they realized their mistake, management showed her the door.  We asked them further about their criteria for determining who was “Japanese”, since it was clear by this example that it was whether somebody looked “Asian” enough.  So my wife at the time asked about our daughters, both of whom were born and raised in Japan, spoke Japanese as their first language, and have Japanese citizenship.

Amy

One looks more Asian, with black hair and brown eyes, while one looks more Western, with brown hair and bluish eyes.  How would they be treated under Yunohana’s rules?

“The Japanese-looking one can come in.  But the younger one who looks like a gaijin will be refused entry.”

This made it clear to everyone, nationwide, that “Japanese Only” signs and rules would affect Japanese citizens too.

TEN YEARS LATER:  WHAT HAS CHANGED?

If you want to know more about what happened next in the Otaru Case, please read (in English or Japanese) Arudou Debito, “JAPANESE ONLY” — The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan[1] (Akashi Shoten Inc, 2003 and 2004, both books revised 2006).  The books describe the worldwide debate on the issue; the months of extralegal efforts made to get “Japanese Only” signs down at Yunohana, at other onsens, in other business sectors, and in other cities around Japan; and the successful lawsuit filed against Yunohana Onsen and the City of Otaru that went all the way up to the Supreme Court.

September 19, 2009 marks ten years since we visited Yunohana.  Here is a survey of how things have changed, or not changed, in the past decade regarding human rights for NJ in Japan:

1) A spread of “Japanese Only” signs and rules around Japan.[2]

A website devoted to businesses with exclusionary signs and rules called “The Rogues’ Gallery” (www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html), coordinated by the author, has collected photographic evidence on over 150 places, in 29 cities and towns across Japan, with “Japanese Only” signs and rules.  Some places (such as Yuransen bathhouse in Wakkanai, Hokkaido, and bars in Misawa, Aomori Prefecture) directly copied the very substance and style of Otaru’s “Japanese Only” signs.

osupasign1300close

Bathhouse “Osupa”, Otaru, 2000.   Hands holding up newspaper substantiating the date are the author’s.

globesign

Bar “Globe”, Misawa, Aomori Prefecture, 2002.  Note capital “J”, small “o”, font style of “a”, and “y” with a tail.

The language of “Japanese Only” has clearly become established as a “meme” (learned cultural behavior), as a concise and comprehensive way of saying “stay out” to undesirable customers — who just happen to lack (or look like they lack) Japanese citizenship.[AD1]

tsubakuroesign072103

Hotel “Tsubakuro”, Hyakunincho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 2003.

dragonbozsign

Internet café “Dragon BOZ”, Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, 2006.

bballbilliardssign051306

B-Ball billiards hall, Uruma, Okinawa, 2006

santamonicarefusal

Bar “Santa Monica”, Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture 2004.  Manager confirming author’s Japanese passport before telling him to leave the premises, as the bar is “Japanese Only”.

Cause:  Despite signing the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 1995 (effected 1996), and despite Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution banning discrimination by “race, creed, sex, social status, or family origin”, Japan still has no law against discrimination by race.  This means that if a “Japanese Only” sign goes up, there is no law in the Civil or Criminal Code for police or authorities to enforce, demanding that signs come down and rules change.  To the present day, as in 1999, there are no legal means, outside of a courtroom, for people who are discriminated against to stop it.

Effect:  If there are no means to stop this kind of discrimination, it spreads, because it is a “quick fix”.  It is convenient for vigilantes (who dislike, fear, or do not want to be bothered with NJ) to put a sign barring them.  A “Japanese Only” sign up in public lends legitimacy to the exclusion, and encourages copycatting.  Numerous interviews carried out by the author of exclusionary establishments have demonstrated a theme of, “We’re not the only ones with the sign up, so why pick on us?”  Like any “tipping point”, enough occurrences can lead to a threshold where isolated instances become legitimized by numbers and precedent, leading to an established practice.  That is how discrimination spreads:  strength in numbers.

2) The rubric of “Japanese Only” is still based upon physical appearance.

The author of this essay is a naturalized Japanese citizen.  However, as the reader can see from his photo at the very beginning, a change of passport has not led to a change from Caucasian to Asian.  In the majority of interviews I have had with exclusionary businesses, they have said that even after seeing proof of my Japanese citizenship (my passport or driver license), I would still be excluded from the premises.  “You don’t look Japanese.  It’ll cause misunderstandings,” was the standard reason.

Cause:  Japan still makes a strong association with face/race and nationality, i.e. Japanese people look “Japanese”.  Indubitably part of the reason is that Japanese society and media have had limited exposure to “non-Asian Japanese”, such as soccer star Ramos Rui, tarento Konda Bobbi (ne Bobby Ologun), and Dietmember Tsurunen Marutei, to name but a few.  There has, however, been copious exposure to international Japanese children Miyazawa Rie, Umemiya Anna, Rebecca Eri RayVaughan (aka “Bekkii”), and also to naturalized citizens with more Asian faces like sumo wrestlers Konishiki and Akebono.  However, it is unclear that the public eye has done a complete connect between “Japanese citizenship through roots” and “Japanese citizenship by legal application”, which would mean that “Japaneseness is a legal status”, not a blood status.  Reinforcing this disconnect are Japan’s nationality laws, currently under consideration for revision, which explicitly say that Japanese status is something inherited.  The laws are jus sanguinis, meaning you must have a Japanese blood relative in order to automatically get Japanese citizenship.

Effect:  Many Japanese citizens who do not “look Japanese” will be treated as NJ — not only this author, but also many hundreds of thousands of children of international marriages.  Japan’s international marriages are currently about 40,000 per year, up substantially from about 30,000 in 2000, and the number of “mixed children” born annually to be about 21,000[3].  Like the “tipping point” mentioned above that encourages the spread of “Japanese Only” signs, I anticipate that there will be a similar “tipping point” where people realize that racial admixtures are still Japanese.  “Conditional Japanese” (as in “half”, “quarter”, “double”, “mix”) have been in the lexicon for quite some time.  I think the qualifiers will fade as the numbers increase.  Accepting naturalized “non-blood Japanese” will take longer.  However, without laws against racial discrimination, one’s face will still not save many “people of mixture” from capricious or ignorant treatment as apparent NJ.

3) “Monocultural, monoethnic Japan” is officially no longer.

Japan’s public policy is also surprisingly exclusionary.  Postwar Japan has had public speech at the highest levels (most famously former Prime Minister Nakasone in 1986) extolling “ethnic homogeneity” and “racial purity” as a strength.  The Japanese government has repeatedly reported to the UN that the CERD treaty was not applicable to Japan.  Japan apparently has no racial minorities (moreover that all people who were in fact racially different were not citizens, therefore also not covered)[4].  This is reinforced in public policymaking.  When one reads white papers and laws, the rubric is that the policy is for the benefit of “citizens” (kokumin)[5], as opposed to “taxpayers” (nouzeisha) or “residents” (juumin).  Thanks to the vagaries of the Residency Certificate (juuminhyou) system[6], NJ are still not officially listed or counted as “juumin“.  Local governments (such as Tokyo Nerima-ku[7]) also do not include NJ in their tally of “residents”.  Nor does the National Census (kokusei chousa) survey residents for ethnicity (minzoku) — only nationality (kokuseki).  Nor does the Ministry of Health always include NJ (or even newly-naturalized citizens) in its tally of population growth or shrinkage:  preferring to use a simple calculation of “births minus deaths”[8].

That said, in June 6, 2008, the Diet for the first time unanimously passed a resolution stating that the Ainu aboriginal people of Hokkaido were a “indigenous people with a distinct language, religion, and culture”.  For the first time, Japan’s government did not ignore an ethnic minority in its public policy, and in fact had set up a government panel to study remedial actions.

Cause:  It was good timing.  As was discussed in this forum (Ota Masakuni, Japonesia Review No. 5, 2008), both the confluence of a UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review on Japan in May, and the Hokkaido G8 Summit (where Hokkaido minority issues were gaining attention and traction) in July that same year, contributed to a push the Fukuda Administration to offer this showcase for human rights.  A multi-partisan “Concerned Diet Members’ Group for the Rights of the Ainu” spearheaded the drive.

Effect:  On September 28, 2008, new Transport Minister Nakayama Nariaki resigned over various gaffes (including calling Nikkyouso schoolteacher union “a cancer”) that reflected older-school thinking:  Speaking on behalf of Japan’s new tourism agency, he mentioned that Japan was “ethnically homogeneous” and in general “Japanese don’t like foreigners”.  He was roundly criticized, notably by Social Democratic Party leader Fukushima Mizuho, who said, “Is he ignorant of a Diet resolution which all the members (of both houses of the Diet) supported?”[9] Thus began an ignominious start to the 2008 Aso Cabinet, which helped set the tone for the rest of his unpopular administration.  This is the first time a resignation has resulted from a “homogeneous” remark, a far cry from the days of Nakasone.

That said, Ota notes that without a supplemental change in historical perspective in the Japanese public, the consequences for Ainu and other (unrecognized) minority rights may be “inconclusive” (the abovementioned government panel, after all, only has one Ainu member).  Similarly, it is probably too early to draw conclusions or show undue pessimism at this time.  Wait and see.

4) Japan’s economics and demographics are making immigration inevitable.

Japan is still the second-largest economy by GDP and by most measures larger than all other Asian economies combined.  The current worldwide economic downturn notwithstanding, Japan has for three decades had a labor shortage.  The government recognized this in 1990 and, at the behest of the industrial lobby, inaugurated a backdoor “Trainee”, “Researcher”, and “Returnee” (teijuusha for overseas Nikkei) working visa program.  This regime brought over millions of cheap Asian and South American laborers, more than doubled the NJ population of 1990 from one million to two, and fundamentally shifted the top three NJ ethnicities from 1) Korea (North and South), 2) China, and 3) The Philippines[10] to 1) China, 2) Korea, and 3) Brazil.  Industrial towns in Shizuoka, Gifu, and Aichi Prefectures showed NJ population percentages in the double digits, and for the first time mayors of these towns were demanding the national government secure equal rights and enhanced access to social services for their NJ residents[11].  NJ were coming to Japan, being welcomed, and put to work.

They were filling a gap.  Thanks to the low birthrate and long life expectancies of the Japanese public, the UN and the Obuchi Administration in 2000 jointly recognized that the Japanese population was aging, and would decrease by the late 2000s if Japan did not import 600,000 NJ per annum[12].  Japan has, on average this decade, imported a net total of 50,000 NJ per annum.  Sure enough, by 2007, Japan’s population was first officially announced as dropping.  If trends continue, by 2050, according to Shuukan Ekonomisuto (January 15, 2008, pg 16), the percentage of Japanese over retirement age (65) is projected to be more than half of the entire population.  Who will man the factories, pay in taxes, and maintain social security pension payments?  NJ keep Japanese society young and the birthrate from falling further.  The government is currently deliberating scrapping the current backdoor-labor visa regime, and establishing an official immigration policy.

EPILOGUE:  TEN YEARS LATER, WHAT HAPPENED IN THE OTARU ONSENS CASE?

The author and two other plaintiffs sued both Yunohana Onsen and the City of Otaru for racial discrimination and negligence under the CERD.  Yunohana lost both in Sapporo District and High Court, and was ordered to pay plaintiffs one million yen each for “unrational discrimination”.  The City of Otaru won in Sapporo District Court, High Court, and the Supreme Court; the District and High Courts grounded their arguments in “separation of powers” arguments (as in, the judiciary cannot force a government body to pass laws against discrimination, and cannot hold one accountable for not doing so).  The Supreme Court ruled that this contravention of Article 14 was “not a Constitutional issue”[13].

Yunohana Onsen took their “Japanese Only” sign down shortly before the lawsuit began, but never apologized for its action.  It took advantage of the publicity from the lawsuit to open new branches.  Yunohana is now a chain with outlets in Otaru Temiya, Otaru Asari, Sapporo Jozankei, and Ebetsu.  Other places and business sectors around Hokkaido and Japan still have their “Japanese Only” signs up.

The Japanese government made it clear to the UN again in March 2008 that it has no intention of creating a law against racial discrimination, reiterating that it has an active judiciary for grievances, therefore no laws are necessary.  It stressed in the indicatively-named “Third, fourth, fifth, and sixth combined periodic report to the UN HRC”[14] that it had taken “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination” (begging the question why passing a law is “inconceivable”).  Several draft bills have been submitted to the Diet and to the Otaru City Government, but all have died in deliberation.

Author and plaintiff Arudou Debito still works as a university educator at Hokkaido Information University in Ebetsu.  Author of two books on the Otaru Onsens Case, Arudou, 44, has recently co-authored another book to help NJ make more secure lives in Japan:  Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan (Akashi Shoten Inc. 2008, English and Japanese).  He also is setting up an NPO called FRANCA[15] to better lobby for rights of NJ in the political sphere.  He sees the Ebetsu branch of Yunohana every day on his drive to work.

ENDS

2600 WORDS


[1] www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html

[2] More information on this in Japanese in「『外国人』入店禁止という人種差別」(有道 出人 著)、単行本『日本の民族差別 人種差別撤廃条約からみた課題)』p218ー229、岡本雅享先生監修・編著、明石書店(株)2005年6月出版

[3] “Japanese youth help compatriots embrace diversity”, Christian Science Monitor, January 18, 2008, www.debito.org/?p=933

[4] The text of the debate between Japan and the United Nations may be found at www.debito.org/japanvsun.html

[5] See example at “Forensic Science Fiction:  Bad science and racism underpin police policy.”  Japan Times, January 13, 2004, at www.debito.org/japantimes011304.html, particularly sidebar at bottom.

[6] www.debito.org/activistspage.html#juuminhyou

[7] www.debito.org/?p=1972

[8] “Japan sees biggest population fall”, Associated Press, printed in the Manchester Guardian, January 2, 2009, www.debito.org/?p=2117

[9] www.debito.org/index.php/?s=Ainu+resolution+June

[10] www.stat.go.jp/data/chouki/02.htm

[11] See for example the Hamamatsu Sengen at www.debito.org/hamamatsusengen.html

[12] Arudou, Debito, “The Coming Internationalization:  Can Japan assimilate its immigrants”.  Japan Focus, January 12, 2006, www.japanfocus.org/products/details/2078

[13] www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html

[14] www.debito.org/?p=1927

[15] www.francajapan.org


[AD1]To Hikaru:  Play with the layout and put these signs around the article as you like.  More at www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html

Yomiuri: UN set to criticize Japan for lack of gender equality and flawed marriage law (read: child abductions after divorce)

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatarUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  A bit of a tangent, as it doesn’t talk about human rights for NJ in specific, but it shows how in other areas the GOJ plays the same old game of bait and switch with the UN and human rights groups, and refuses to come to terms with trends and pressures one finds in other fellow modern, industrialized countries.

Comment from submitter:  Excellent Yomiuri article on gender inequality in Japan – While this article doesn’t directly touch on child abduction issues it does discuss issues that might lead to and allow forced retention. A very good read.

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Gender equality long overdue / U.N. set to rap govt stance on women’s rights, marriage law, education
By Mihoko Tsukino / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer

Daily Yomiuri Jul. 30, 2009
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20090730TDY04302.htm

The U.N. watchdog panel on gender equality is poised to issue recommendations to Japan in which it will address this nation’s delay in implementing policies to bring about equality between men and women.

The government should humbly accept the findings of the expert U.N. panel known as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and lawmakers are urged to buckle down and begin implementing a wide range of gender equality measures.

The pact that sets out the principles covering equality of the sexes– officially called the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women–was adopted by a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in 1979. Japan ratified the convention in 1985.

Known as the women’s rights version of the Bill of Rights, the convention stipulates the equality of women and men in political and public activities, calls for the prohibition of sexual exploitation of women and inequality in access to education and employment, as well as discrimination on the basis of sex in marital and family relations.

Signatory countries to the convention, now numbering 186, are required to periodically undergo monitoring by CEDAW by submitting reports to the panel on measures taken to comply with their obligations under the treaty.

CEDAW tracks the progress of parties to the treaty in rectifying inequalities and draws up recommendations to address shortcomings, prodding nations to take legislative and other remedial actions, including changing their social systems.

===

Japan severely criticized

Last Thursday, CEDAW screened a report presented by the Japanese government at the U.N. headquarters in New York.

The screening of Japan’s records on elimination efforts of discrimination against women was the first in six years. Japan had previously been screened three times.

CEDAW singled out various areas in which efforts by the Japanese government were considered to have fallen short of addressing problems linked to gender discrimination. Among them were a failure to conduct in-depth discussions on the need to revise the Civil Code–which leads to discriminatory treatment of children born outside of marriage in inheritance procedures–and a provision that stipulates married couples should have the same surname.

The U.N. committee also took note of what it regards as Japan’s retrogressive gender equality education and sex education, as well as a slow pace of improvement in women’s social participation.

The Japanese officials who replied to questioning at the CEDAW screening session were drawn from the Cabinet Office, the Justice Ministry and the Education, Science and Technology Ministry.

Some of them were reportedly subject to such warnings from panel members as “not to repeat replies to the same effect” as those given by previous Japanese officials, or asked sternly to “provide explanations in more concrete terms.”

Yoko Osawa, a member of a Japanese nongovernmental body called mNet- Information Network for Amending the Civil Code, who sat in on the committee session, said, “Most members of the Japanese government delegation made a point of repeating prepared, boilerplate explanations of systems and laws in response to the various questions posed by the CEDAW members.

“Several CEDAW members pulled the translation headphones out of their ears, apparently because they were so disgusted,” Osawa said.

As lawyer Mikiko Otani, an expert in international human rights law, put it, “The way the Japanese officials responded to the panel members should be considered a reflection of their lack of knowledge of the U.N. treaty and also Japan’s lack of a sense of responsibility as a signatory country to the treaty.”

“I think Japan, a country that seeks to hold a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, should be ashamed of being subject to such criticism from the gender equality panel,” she added.

The pact for abolishing discrimination against women has led Japan to enact a number of laws, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Law in 1985 and laws requiring both boys and girls to take a homemaking course in middle school and high school, enacted in 1993 and 1994, respectively.

Although CEDAW recommendations have no binding power, they nonetheless have been a catalyst for advancing gender equality, such as spurring this nation’s legislation to bring about the Basic Law for a Gender- Equal Society in 1999 and the Domestic Violence Prevention Law in 2001.

However, a mountain of issues remain unaddressed.

Japan ranked 58th among 108 countries on the most recent U.N. index on women’s social participation, one of the the lowest among industrially advanced nations.

Highlighting the disparity between women and men in this nation, women account for less than 10 percent of the members of the House of Representatives, while women section chiefs in private sector companies stand at a mere 6.6 percent.

===

Optional Protocol left unratified

Every one of this nation’s lawmakers should be held responsible for failing to pay due attention to the international gender equality treaty and related U.N. recommendations that have resulted in delays in ending the disparities that disadvantage women.

A legislator-sponsored bill calling for a revision of the Civil Code in response to CEDAW recommendations has been repeatedly presented to the Diet. But the bill that would delete provisions that discriminate against women has been scrapped every time without in-depth deliberation.

Japan’s failure to ratify the Optional Protocol on the convention on the elimination of discrimination against women also is being questioned by the international community.

The protocol stipulates that a mechanism should be put in place that would allow individual women who have exhausted legal and other avenues available within Japan to report directly to CEDAW to ask them to inquire into alleged human rights violations against them.

As Japan has been repeatedly urged to ratify the protocol, government ministries and agencies concerned have been studying the wisdom of doing so.

However, with many politicians expressing wariness about signing a protocol they say might come into conflict with the principle of independence of the nation’s judiciary, no earnest discussions have yet to take place in the political arena.

Following the latest screening by CEDAW, a new set of recommendations will be issued as early as late August, around the time new members of the lower house have been elected in the coming general election.

Judging from the way CEDAW carried out the screening of the Japanese government-submitted report, its recommendations will most likely be pretty tough.

This country should be humble in accepting the forthcoming recommendations and both the government and legislature should be ready to tackle the task of adopting and enforcing gender equality policies in a way considered worthy of a full member of the international community.

(Jul. 30, 2009)
ENDS

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

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatarUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

UN NEWS 17 JULY 2009

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=31500&Cr=human+trafficking&Cr1=

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

Background information:

***************************************************************************************************************************************
United Nation Information Centre, Tokyo
UNIC

*************************************************************************************************************************************

(FOR USE OF INFORMATION MEDIA – NOT AN OFFICIAL RECORD)
Press Release 09-033-E
21 July 2009

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

12-18 July 2009

Related PR: http://unic.or.jp/unic/press_release/1211

Outline and Purpose of the visit:

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

Scope of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On 13 May 2009, the United Nations General Assembly held an Interactive Thematic Dialogue on “Taking Collective Action to End Human Trafficking,” at which the Special Rapporteur participated. (Please see:
http://www.un.org/ga/president/63/interactive/humantrafficking.shtml)

Biography of the Special Rapporteur

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

The Special Rapporteur’s annual report to the Human Rights Council (presented in March 2009) can be found at
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/trafficking/docs/HRC-10-16.pdf.

For more information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on
trafficking in persons, especially women and children, please visit our
website: Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in
women and children.
(Please see:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/trafficking/standards.htm)

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

For more information, please contact Valentina Milano
Phone: +41 79 444 6129, e-mail: vmilano@ohchr.org

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

For inquiries and media requests: press-info@ohchr.org

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

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

////////////////////////////////////////////

(重複投稿すみません)7月12日(日)から17日(金)にかけて、人身売買に関する国連特別報告者が日本を公式訪問して、日本における状況を調査していましたが、昨日17日に東京都内で、日本での調査を振り返って記者会見を行いました。

下記は、NHKニュースのウェブサイトと、国連のウェブサイトの国連ニュースセンターでの報告です。

日本はたくさんの人身売買の被害者の目的地国になっており、性的搾取だけでなく、労働搾取(研修生・技能実習生制度)に関しても大きな懸念事項である、と述べています。

今回の調査では、日本政府関係者への聞き取りだけでなく、被害者当事者をはじめ、外国人研修生権利ネットワークやJNATIP(人身売買禁止ネットワーク)などのNGOセクターの支援者などが、情報提供を行ったり、意見交換を行っています。

おそらく、2010年初頭に開かれる会期の国連人権理事会で、正式な報告書が提出される見通しです。

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/k10014344811000.html#
7月17日 19時57分
海外から日本に来て強制的に働かされるなど、人身取引の日本での現状を調査した国連の担当者は、被害がいっそう深刻化しているとして懸念を示したうえで、日本政府に被害者の保護対策を強化するよう求めたことを明らかにしました。

人身取引をめぐる各国の状況を調査するため、国連から任命されたジョイ・ヌゴジ・エゼイロ氏は今月12日から日本を訪れ、政府当局者やNGOの関係者などと面会したりして調査を行ってきました。

エゼイロ氏は17日、都内で開いた記者会見の中で、日本では周辺のアジアの国々から多くの人たちが連れてこられ、性的な仕事を強要されたり、きわめて安い賃金で重労働を強いられたりするなど、深刻な人身取引が起きていると指摘し、「日本は人身取引の多くの被害者たちがたどり着く国だ」と述べ、日本の現状に懸念を示しました。

さらに最近は技能実習といった政府の奨励する制度に基づいて来た人たちが強制的に安い賃金で働かされる事例が増えており、被害は水面下でいっそう深刻化していると指摘しました。

またエゼイロ氏は日本政府に対し、多言語で対応する保護施設をつくったり、人身取引を防ぐ法律の整備を急いだりして被害者の保護対策を強化するよう求めたことを明らかにしました。今回エゼイロ氏が行った調査は、来年の国連の人権理事会に報告されることになっています。

ENDS

Sunday Tangent: Economist on UN racism conference fiasco, April 2009

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog.  Here’s what happened some weeks ago, regarding how the April UN conference on racism, the Olympics for human rights worldwide, turned into a bit of a fiasco, what with competing interests hijiacking the event.  Again.  A bit old, but still worth blogging on Debito.org nonetheless, because it shows that what goes on in Japan is comparatively small potatoes, and how our issues are probably not going to get the attention from outside that they should.  Pity.  Racism is one hard mother to define, unite against, and defeat.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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UN conference on racism

Avoiding the worst
Apr 23rd 2009 | GENEVA
From The Economist print edition

http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13527953

Despite the indignation caused by an Iranian tirade, some gallant souls were accentuating the positive after a UN deliberation on race

IN ONE of the more dramatic scenes in modern diplomacy, a resolution describing Zionism as a form of racism, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1975, was excoriated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, America’s UN ambassador, as an “infamous act” and a “terrible lie”. Then in 1991, the resolution was reversed and (to quote another senior American diplomat) consigned “to the dustbin of history”.

In both votes, the outcome matched the times: the first resolution was promoted by a Soviet-Muslim coalition in a spirit of cold-war antagonism; the second reflected expectations of a “new world order” with America at the helm. To judge by the disorderly scenes that unfolded in Geneva this week, at a UN conference on racism, today’s international climate is far more rancorous than it was 18 years ago, and not too far from the poisonous mood that prevailed in 1975.

At this week’s gathering, expectations were cautious, to put it mildly. A legion of critics (in governments and elsewhere) said the affair would just be a hatefest directed at Israel and the Jews: no better, they said, than the UN’s anti-racism conference in 2001. Fear of a repetition had persuaded Australia, Canada, Israel and four European countries to stay away. So, at the last minute, did America, dashing hopes that a black president would warm to a discussion, however flawed, on racism.

The sceptics’ case received a huge fillip from Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who railed not only against Israel but the Western countries which helped found the Jewish state, and “under the pretext of protecting the Jews…made a nation homeless with military expeditions and invasion.” Although in his public remarks he dropped an earlier formula which directly called in question the Holocaust, the speech led to a walkout by 23 European delegations. The governments that walked out (or stayed away) got notes of thanks from Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister.

That scene is undoubtedly the thing that the world will remember most about the week’s proceedings. Yet only a day later, supporters of the conference (including some sane-ish governments and NGOs) were speaking of success: the adoption of a resolution that might just be a landmark in the battle for tolerance and free speech.

Most of the European countries that walked out of Mr Ahmadinejad’s speech made clear soon after that they were not quitting the whole conference. (Only the Czech Republic did; it now holds the European-Union presidency, but on this matter it was not acting for the EU.)

For those who walked back in, another source of relief was the fact that few were inclined to follow the lead of Mr Ahmadinejad (the only head of government who was present) and focus mainly on Israel and the Middle East. This change of tone, plus the fact that a carefully drafted resolution was adopted by consensus, led some Western governments to claim that the sharp-tongued visitor had been neutralised. It all “showed just how out of step the Iranian government is,” said Peter Gooderham, Britain’s envoy to the UN in Geneva.

For diehard optimists in the human-rights world, Mr Ahmadinejad’s intervention was only a hiccup in the process of crafting a charter setting out principles that could guide national legislation and other efforts to combat racism.

It is true that some hard work went into making the final resolution easier for Western governments to sign. In early drafts, Islamic countries had sought to introduce a clause making defamation of religion a breach of human rights, with disturbing implications for freedom of expression. Iran, alone, had also sought to exclude any reference to the Holocaust.

The document finally adopted makes no explicit reference to Israel and the Middle East. Its chief flaw, in the eyes of critics, is that it reaffirms the outcome of the 2001 conference, where the Jewish state had come in for much criticism. Despite that, Western human-rights groups hailed the new text’s exclusion of illiberal language deploring the “defamation” of faith; instead, it deplores the “derogatory stereotyping and stigmatisation of persons based on their religion or belief”. Thus “it recognises the primacy of individuals, not the primacy of religions or ideologies,” noted Agnes Callamard of the London-based free-speech group, Article 19.

For B’nai B’rith, one of a raft of Jewish groups which came to Geneva to voice alarm over the UN proceedings, the final text was still “fatally flawed” because of its allusion to the 2001 meeting in Durban. “The adoption of this document shows nothing has changed since 2001, no lessons have been learnt—and the hope for a unified approach to fighting racism and intolerance around the world will again go unfulfilled,” B’nai B’rith said.

But several human-rights groups concurred with Mr Gooderham’s view that the final statement “covers the ground pretty well”. It avoids some of the unwelcome language (from a Western standpoint) that was initially mooted.

“It’s a breakthrough because it overcomes the polarisation that existed between the Islamic countries and the Western world. It shows they can find common ground on issues that had caused this polarisation,” said Julie de Rivero, Geneva representative of Human Rights Watch (HRW), a global civil-liberties group.

For HRW, the outcome added weight to its contention that liberal-minded governments should stay in the room and argue rather than storming out and leaving the ground to noisy extremists. Perhaps so—but it might be a tad too optimistic to say that polarisation between the West, the Islamic world and other ideological and regional blocks has been overcome. In any case, some fresh evidence on that question will emerge next month—when the United States stands for election to the UN Human Rights Council in the hope of changing that body and making it less inclined to direct all its fire at Israel.
ENDS

UN News: US among 18 nations elected to UN Human Rights Council

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog.  Let’s do some catching up with UN stuff for the weekend.  Some of this stuff regarding membership on the UN Human Rights Council is pretty rich, especially given the US’s record on torture during the Bush II Admin.  But again, it’s time to see the back of that dark era.  And let’s hope the HRC actually becomes a meaningful organization that can pressure Japan to pass laws against racial discrimination.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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US AMONG 18 NATIONS ELECTED TO UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
UN News, New York, May 12 2009 3:00PM

The General Assembly today <“http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2009/ga10826.doc.htm“>elected 18 countries to serve on the Geneva-based United Nations <“http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/”>Human Rights Council for three-year terms starting next month, including – for the first time – Belgium, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Norway and the United States.

The 47-member Council replaced the Human Rights Commission – which faced increasing criticism over the years as being ineffective and not accountable – in 2006.

The Assembly also re-elected Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Jordan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Uruguay. All 18 members elected today will begin their terms on 19 June.

In March, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had welcomed the announcement by the US that it would seek a seat on the Council, saying it embodies the country’s commitment to a “new era of engagement.”
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MEMBERSHIP IN UN RIGHTS COUNCIL BRINGS GREATER RESPONSIBILITY, SCRUTINY – PILLAY
UN News New York, May 14 2009  7:00PM

In becoming a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, a country not only takes on greater responsibility for tackling abuses worldwide, but also lays bear its own record for the scrutiny of others, the world body’s top rights official said today. 

“Council membership is not a reward for good behaviour. It is a responsibility, one that exposes members to increased accountability before their peers,” High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay wrote in an <“http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/opinion/14iht-edpillay.html?_r=1“>opinion piece published today in the International Herald Tribune. 

She noted that critics of the Council point to the fact that among its 47 members are countries with “less-than-pristine” human rights records. 

“To those critics I say two things: Is there any country that has a blemish-free record? Human rights violations are not the bane of any particular country or region. And even if such a thing were possible, what impact would a club of the virtuous have on those outside?” 

Ms. Pillay called the Universal Periodic Review – by which the human rights record of every country in the world, including its own members, is examined – one of the “true innovations” of the three-year-old body. Almost 80 countries have already been scrutinized. 

This week the United States became one of five countries – along with Belgium, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan and Norway – elected to the Council for the first time. “President [Barack] Obama’s decision to seek membership is a welcome step to restoring international trust in US support for human rights,” noted the High Commissioner.

She added that participation in the Council is indispensable if States wish to influence how it develops, and also crucial to confront global human rights challenges and threats.

On terrorism, Ms. Pillay said that, in their countermeasures, the US and other governments have expanded executive power at the expense of the legislature and the courts, and eroded many of the most basic human rights guarantees of the modern era. “Experience shows that if checks and balances are not adequate, the margin of abuse is high.

“Although much more needs to be done, President Obama’s determination to resolve the untenable situation of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, ban CIA prisons and implement the prohibition on torture in compliance with international standards is highly welcome,” she wrote. 

“The US should also shed light into the still opaque areas that surround capture, interrogation methods, rendition and detention conditions of those alleged to have been involved in terrorism, and ensure that perpetrators of torture and abuse are held to account,” Ms. Pillay added. 

The Geneva-based Council replaced the Human Rights Commission – which faced increasing criticism over the years as being ineffective and not accountable – in 2006.
________________

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

ENDS

UN News posts on Durban Review Conference on human rights, Geneva Apr 20 2009

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog. Expanding the scope of the fight for human rights beyond Japan’s borders, here’s what’s happening on a macro scale: The UN “Olympics” on human rights (held quite infrequently) has become a right mess, from what I saw of Ahmadinejad’s speech live on CNN Monday night (there was nasty invective marbling whatever salient points he was there to make; generated more heat than light). Here is the UN’s point of view. Doesn’t give me a lot of hope for seeing Japan’s issues as all that urgent. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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UN RIGHTS CHIEF ‘SHOCKED’ AT US WITHDRAWAL FROM ANTI-RACISM CONFERENCE
UN News, New York, Apr 19 2009 1:00PM

Sent directly to debito.org

Expressing her deep regret that the United States has decided to not attend the global anti-racism gathering beginning tomorrow, the top United Nations human rights official has called on States shift their priorities to prohibiting racism over politics.

The US withdrawal from the Durban Review Conference in Geneva comes on the heels of nations agreeing on a draft outcome document just last Friday, said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

“I am shocked and deeply disappointed by the United States decision not to attend a conference that aims to combat racism, xenophobia, racial discrimination and other forms of intolerance worldwide,” she said.

Several states have permitted one or two issues to dominate their approaches to the entire issue of racism, Ms. Pillay said, “allowing them to outweigh the concerns of numerous groups of people that suffer racism and similar forms of intolerance to a pernicious and life-damaging degree on a daily basis all across the world, in both developed and developing countries.”

She stressed that no matter how sensitive and difficult they are, these issues must be discussed on a global level.

The statement by the US announcing that it will not be attending the Conference nonetheless praised the significant progress made in recent weeks, culminating in nations attending the Preparatory Committee agreeing on a 16-page document last week.

The main stumbling block for the US is the current text’s reaffirmation of the landmark Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) agreed by consensus at the end of the 2001 World Summit against Racism in Durban, South Africa.

The US, along with Israel, had withdrawn from the 2001 conference citing concerns the forum was being used by some to push an anti-Israel agenda. Israel has already declared that it will not be taking part in the Review Conference.

Ms. Pillay stressed that that the US’ objections could have been overcome.

“It would have been possible to make it clear in a footnote that the US had not affirmed the original document and therefore is not in a position to reaffirm it, which is a routine practice in multilateral negotiations to enable consensus-building while allowing for individual positions to be expressed,” she noted. “And then we could have all moved on together, and put the problems of 2001 behind us.”

According to the US statement, the nation also finds the draft outcome’s reference to incitement to hatred as problematic, even though it is a well-established concept under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

That pact, the High Commissioner highlighted, was “intended to ensure that the type of incitement to hatred employed by the Nazi propaganda machine in the 1930s and 40s would be prohibited by law.”

The need for such an agreement, she said, was underscored by the creation of an environ
ment by the media and politicians in which the Rwandan genocide occurred 15 years ago this month, when 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderates died, mostly by machete, during a period of less than 100 days.

“We should not underestimate the power of incitement to hatred to fuel violence, conflict and even genocide,” the High Commissioner maintained. “I therefore believe it is very relevant to include this concept in a conference designed to tackle racism and xenophobia.”

According to some media reports, the US’ withdrawal centres around the continued use of language on defamation of religion and anti-Semitism in the outcome document, but she pointed out that no such language exists in the text adopted last week.

Further, it clearly calls for the Holocaust to “never be forgotten” and also deplores all forms of racism, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, Ms. Pillay noted.

“I fail to see why, given that the Middle East is not mentioned in this document, that politics relate
d to the Middle East continue to intrude into the process,” she said.

Hailing the flexibility of member States in the difficult negotiations that ended with agreement on a revised text last week, the High Commissioner said that the draft document “still provides us with a meaningful outcome.”

Nearly 4,000 people — including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — have registered to participate in the week-long gathering, including more than 100 heads of delegation from Member States and over 2,500 representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
_______________

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

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DIVISIVENESS PERPETUATES RACISM, SECRETARY-GENERAL WARNS

UN News, New York, Apr 20 2009 2:00PM

Sent directly to debito.org

Unity is essential to moving past intolerance, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored today, lamenting the decision by several nations not to attend the United Nations anti-racism conference which kicked off today and deploring remarks made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“Some nations, who by rights should be helping to forge a path to a better future, are not here,” Mr. Ban <“http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocus/sgspeeches/statments_full.asp?statID=467“>said at the start of the <“http://www.un.org/durbanreview2009/“>Durban Review Conference in Geneva, referring to countries such as the United States and Israel which have refused to attend the five-day gathering.

He also spoke out against the comments made by Mr. Ahmadinejad at today’s session which he said were intended to “accuse, divide and even incite,” calling them a roadblock to tackling the scourge of racism.

“This is the opposite of what this Conference seeks to achieve,” noted the Secretary-General in a <“http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocus/sgspeeches/statments_full.asp?statID=466“>statement, who, at an earlier meeting with the Iranian official, emphasized the importance of the gathering to galvanize global will to fight intolerance.

During their talks, Mr. Ban said that he also underlined the need to look ahead to the future, not to the past of divisiveness, reminding Mr. Ahmadinejad that the UN General Assembly has adopted resolutions rejecting the equation of Zionism with racism and reaffirming the Holocaust’s historical facts.

In a statement directed at the Iranian President’s subsequent remarks, however, he said “we must all turn away from such a message in both form and substance.”

In his address to the Geneva gathering today, he called for nations to move beyond old divisions and form a united front against racism.

“Let us recognize the difference between honest disagreement and mere divisiveness – or worse, sheer obstructionism,” the Secretary-General said.

If left unchecked, he warned that racism could spiral into social unrest and violence, especially during the current economic crisis.

“If ever there were a cause in which we can all believe, this is it – a truly great and noble cause that binds [us] as human beings,” Mr. Ban maintained, calling on nations to seize the moment to work together to combat racism in all its manifestations.

Nearly 4,000 people have registered to take part in the Conference, including more than 100 heads of delegation from Member States and over 2,500 representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The event seeks to assess progress and implementation thus far of the landmark Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) agreed on by States eight years ago.

“The hopes of millions of victims are pinned on the implementation of this document, but the noblest charter is reduced to empty rhetoric if the commitments it enshrines are given no practical effect,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in <“http://www.un.org/durbanreview2009/stmt20-04-09_pillay.shtml“>remarks to the Conference today.

She pointed out that “a failure to agree on the way forward would negatively reverberate on the human rights agenda for years to come,” stressing that “each and every one of us has a stake in the fight against racism.”

Participants at the Conference are expected to consider and adopt a 16-page draft outcome, agreed on last Friday by States attending the Preparatory Committee.

Drafting the text was not an “easy process, but it is excellent that delegates have agreed on the key issues,” the High Commissioner said in welcoming agreement on the outcome document, voicing hope that this week’s Conference will send an unequivocal message that “we are, indeed, united against racism.”
________________

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

Japan ‘regrets’ US boycott of UN racism conference

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan said Monday that it would attend a UN conference on racism and regretted a US boycott of the event, which has been overshadowed by fears of a Western walkout and a verbal onsault on Israel.

“I regret that the United States cannot participate in the conference,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told reporters. “Japan will send our delegation led by Ambassador to Geneva (Shinichi) Kitajima.”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon was due to open the anti-racism conference in Geneva later Monday amid fears Iran’s president will attack Israel.

The US government decided Saturday to join Canada and Israel in staying away from the Geneva meeting. The boycott has snowballed as Australia, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have also followed suit.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — who has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and described the Holocaust as a “myth” — arrived in Geneva late Sunday as one of the few heads of state attending the conference.

Before setting off for Switzerland, Ahmadinejad — who is seeking re-election in June — was quoted by Iran’s state broadcaster as saying that “the Zionist ideology and regime are the flag-bearers of racism”.

Similar sentiments expressed by some Arab and African countries eight years ago prompted a US and Israeli walkout during the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, and the five-day Geneva follow-up this week has descended into what Israel called a “tragic farce” even before it starts.

In a rare break with its Western allies, Japan has historically enjoyed warm relations with Iran, although ties have recently soured somewhat as Tokyo has backed international efforts to stop Tehran’s nuclear drive. (AFP)

ENDS

UN News on upcoming Durban human rights summit and Gitmo

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  Two posts from UN NEWS that are tangental but within the pale of Debito.org.

First up is news about the next big human rights summit in Durban, South Africa.  The last one was at the beginning of this decade.  Those interested in attending (I would, but again, no money) might want to start making plans.

Second, I was asked recently by a friend, “What do you want to see Obama do immediately after taking office?”  I answered back with a question, “You mean personally, or big-picture?”  Both.  “Okay, personally, state publicly that the USA will not support any application by Japan to the UN Security Council until it honors its treaty promises, including passing an enforceable law against racial discrimination.”  But that’s easily backburnerable.  “But big-picture, I want to see Obama close Guantanamo, that running sore of human-rights abuses that is arguably doing more to encourage anti-American sentiment worldwide than anything else.”

Well, the big-picture was precisely what Obama took steps to do his first working day in office.  Bravo.  And the UN recognizes it as such.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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MEMBER STATES BEGIN PREPARATORY TALKS FOR UPCOMING UN ANTI-RACISM CONFERENCE
UN NEWS New York, Jan 20 2009 3:00PM

A working group made up of United Nations Member States has begun formal negotiations on a draft outcome document for the so-called Durban Review Conference later this year, which will examine the progress made worldwide since the 2001 global anti-racism summit held in the South African city.

The review conference will be held in Geneva in April to monitor and accelerate progress towards the implementation of measures adopted at the landmark 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

Members of the working group have agreed to use a 38-page draft document as the basis for their negotiations, which will take place during its formal session ending on Friday and continue afterwards in informal meetings.

The group has two further formal meetings before the Review Conference is held from 20 to 24 April, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has launched a website dedicated to the Conference and its preparatory process.

The website is online in English at www.un.org/durbanreview2009 and will soon be available in the other official UN languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.
________________

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

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US DECISION TO CLOSE GUANTÁNAMO BAY DETENTION CENTRE HAILED BY UN RIGHTS CHIEF
UN NEWS New York, Jan 22 2009 3:00PM

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has welcomed today’s decision by the new United States administration to close the detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, as well as the decision to ban methods of interrogation that contravene international law.

Navi Pillay also called for a review of the US approach to detaining individuals abroad, in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the practice of ‘rendition,’ in order to ensure conformity with international law.

“The fact that President [Barack] Obama has placed such a high priority on closing Guantánamo and set in motion a system to safeguard the fundamental rights of the detainees there is extremely encouraging,” she stated.

“The United States has in the past been a staunch supporter of international human rights law, and this is one of the reasons that the regime that was established in Guantánamo has been viewed as so damaging,” the High Commissioner added.

“Water-boarding and other forms of interrogation that may amount to torture, detention for prolonged periods without trial or proper judicial review, and what became known as ‘extraordinary rendition’ – these are all aberrations that should never have happened,” stated Ms. Pillay.

The UN’s human rights chief also welcomed the fact that President Obama’s Executive Order issued today sets a framework for regularizing the situation of the remaining detainees in Guantánamo.

She also raised the issue of compensation for those judged to be innocent and called for a thorough investigation into allegations of torture at the Guantánamo centre.

“Under international law, there is an absolute prohibition against torture, and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” she said. “There must be accountability for those who have ordered such practices or carried them out, and victims should receive recompense.”

Ms. Pillay saluted Mr. Obama for taking such an important step so swiftly upon taking office. “This is a good day for the rule of law,” she noted.
________________

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

ENDS

Excerpts and critique of the Japanese Govt’s “Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Combined Periodic Report” to UN HRC

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog. I last reported on this issue in a blog entry last August 30, when the Japan Times covered it.  Sorry to have taken so long to get around to digging deeper.

Long-time readers may find the following entry guffaw-worthy, from it’s very title: “The third, fourth, fifth and sixth combined periodic report” to the United Nations Human Rights Council” [Japanese pdf, English pdf] — indicating just how late the GOJ is filing a report, on what it’s doing towards the promotion of human rights in Japan, that is actually due every two years.

Then get a load of the bunkum the GOJ reports with a straight face. More on the rather antigonistic relationship the GOJ has with the UN here. To me, it’s indicative — when you have a government “seeking input from human rights groups”, but not really (when they allowed right-wingers to shout down a meeting last year), you aren’t going to get a report that reflects what’s going on amongst the shomin.

Finally, just a point of logic: If the GOJ had taken “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”, as it claims below, that would naturally include a law against it, wouldn’t it?  Like South Korea did in 2007.  But no. And look what happens as a result. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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EXCERPTS FOLLOW FROM THE THIRD, FOURTH, FIFTH, AND SIXTH COMBINED PERIODIC REPORT TO THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ON HOW WHAT IT’S DOING TO PROMOTE HUMAN RIGHTS IN JAPAN:  Commentary and links follow paragraphs with spurious claims.

Full text here:  [Japanese pdfEnglish pdf]

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International Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination

(Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Combined Periodic Report)

MARCH 2008  Submitted by the Government of Japan

I. Introduction

1. Based on the provisions of Article 9 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (hereinafter referred to as the “Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination”), the Government of Japan hereby submits its Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Combined Periodic Report on the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This is the updated version of the Initial and Second Periodic Report (CERD/C350/Add. 2) submitted in January 2000. This report also describes the measures that the Government of Japan has taken to eliminate racial discrimination from the time when the Initial and Second Periodic Report was submitted to March 2008.

2. Japan has taken every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination. The Constitution of Japan, the supreme law of Japan, guarantees equality under the law without any form of discrimination, as is evidenced by the provision laid down in Paragraph 1 of Article 14 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’. Based on this principle of the Constitution, Japan has striven to realize a society without any form of racial or ethnic discrimination, and will continue to make efforts to achieve a society in which each person is treated without any discrimination and respected as an individual and can fully develop his or her own personality….

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COMMENT:  Just suck on the opening admissions.  Six years overdue on a report due in 2002, updating one that was already two years overdue to begin with.  And does “taking every conceivable measure” include an anti-discrimination law?  South Korea passed one in 2007.  For Japan, the answer is no, the GOJ once again will not pass a law, for justifications we shall see below.

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17. The ‘Ninth Basic Plan of Employment Measures’ was adopted by the Cabinet in August 1999. The plan espouses the following principle regarding the acceptance of foreign workers: “From the perspective of further promoting the rejuvenation and internationalization of the Japanese economy and society, the acceptance of foreign workers in professional and technical fields should be more actively promoted. On the other hand, with respect to the matter of accepting workers for so-called unskilled labor, there is a concern that the Japanese economy and society as well as people’s livelihood may be adversely affected by such an action. For example, problems may break out in the domestic labor market as a result of accepting unskilled workers. At the same time, accepting unskilled foreign workers may also adversely affect themselves as well as their countries of origin. For these reasons, the idea of accepting unskilled workers requires careful consideration, while taking into account of a consensus among the Japanese people”.

COMMENT:  Gotta love the logic.  Migration hurts Japan (even though the GOJ has a had a visa regime for nearly 20 years, bringing in unskilled labor with a backdoor system and doubling the registered NJ population, at the very behest of the Keidanren business lobby to prevent the “hollowing out” (kuudouka) of Japanese industry with a labor shortage)?.  It’s what factories wanted.  Now we’re claiming it hurts us, and might even hurt workers and their home countries!  Please don’t make such policy that hurts everyone, including yourself, GOJ.

And to finish up, we’ll appeal to a phantom “Japanese public consensus”.  Have your cake and eat it too.  Just don’t give Trainee Visa workers any Japanese labor law rights protections and the cake has icing.  Who’s hurting whom?

=============================

20. The Basic Plan for Promotion of Human Rights Education and Encouragement (See Part VII (Article 7) of this Report) takes up the problems concerning the human rights of foreigners as one of the human rights issues to be addressed. The human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice expands and strengthens their promotion activities to disseminate and enhance the idea of respect for human rights with the view to fostering a human rights awareness as appropriate for the age of globalisation by eliminating prejudice and discrimination against foreigners, holding an attitude of tolerance towards and respect for diverse cultures, religions, lifestyles and customs that people of different origins practice.

COMMENT:  The Bureau of Human Rights (Jinken Yougobu) organ of the Ministry of Justice is a pretty much useless organization, with no sanction or enforcement powers.  It exists merely to be wheeled out at opportune times like this for window dressing.

=============================

24. Japanese public schools at the compulsory education level guarantee foreign nationals the opportunity to receive education if they wish to attend such school by accepting them without charge, just as they do with Japanese school children.

COMMENT:  Oh?  In fact, compulsory education only applies to citizens, under the Kyouiku Kihon Hou.  And there are cases of students being refused entry to schools.  “We have no facilities” (setsubi ga nai), is the reported excuse.

The GOJ is, in a word, lying.

In addition, a school subject called “sogo-gakushu” (general learning), which primarily aims at developing children’s learning ability beyond the borders of conventional subjects, allows conversational foreign language classes and opportunities to study traditional cultures, to be provided as part of the education for cultivating international understanding. In the case of children of foreign nationalities, they can even receive education in their native tongues (minority languages) and learn about their native cultures, according to local circumstances and situation of school children such as the number of children of a particular nationality and their command of Japanese.

COMMENT:  Gosh, I’d like to know where those schools are and how widespread this subject is. I’ve never even heard of it.  Instead, we hear of 20-40% of all Brazilian children are not attending school at all because they find it so hard to fit in. I smell Potemkin system.

Furthermore, when these foreign children enter school, maximum attention is given to ensure that they can receive, without undue difficulty, the education in Japanese normally taught to Japanese children. Toward this end, they are provided with, among other things, guidance in learning Japanese and are supported by their regular teachers as well as by others who can speak their native language….

COMMENT:  See above two comments.  Again, “setsubi ga nai”…  And little to no support for ethnic schools in Japan, either. “Maximum attention”??  Hogwash!

=============================

55. Regarding the treatment of foreign children in Japan in relation to their education in public schools at the compulsory education level (elementary schools and lower secondary schools) and upper secondary schools in Japan, see Paragraphs 138 to 140 of the Initial and Second Periodic Report.

Those foreigners who wish to attend public schools for compulsory education may do so free of class fee , including the free supply of textbooks and school expense subsidies, thus guaranteeing the same educational opportunities as for Japanese citizens. In addition, Japanese language teachers are dispatched to schools, providing parents with a guidebook on schooling, and conducting meetings with experts on policies to enhance education for foreigners.

Also, in order for foreigners to become accustomed to the living environment in Japan and to be able to receive the same residential services as members of Japanese society, a Program to Accelerate Foreigners’ Adaptation to the Life Environment in Japan was formed in 2007.

This program covers the establishment of language classes for foreigners of Japanese descent, teacher training for foreigners who speak Japanese, consultations with the governments of the children’s country of origin, as well as model programs to support the school enrollment of foreign children and to set up a Japanese language instruction system.

Some schools for foreigners, such as international schools, are approved as miscellaneous schools by prefectural governors, and their independence is respected.

COMMENT:  Just saying they can attend doesn’t mean they can under the same circumstances, see comments in previous section, particularly the question regarding the programs’ widespreadness.  As for that 2007 program, this is a local-level initiative, not a national one, something demanded by the Hamamatsu and Yokkaichi Sengens for nearly a decade now (and duly ignored by the national govt; how nice of them to claim it as their own).

Finally, “their independence is respected” is another way of saying, “They’re on their own.  We don’t even officially recognize them as schools, and we won’t fund them with public money” like “real Japanese schools”. Students (often from low-income families, such as Brazilian workers) don’t even qualify for student discounts for bus passes!

=============================

25. Most of the Korean residents who do not wish to be educated in Japanese schools attend North/South Korean schools established in Japan. Most of these schools have been approved by prefectural governors as ‘miscellaneous schools’.

COMMENT:  And again, they don’t get Ministry of Education funding, meaning they pay a heck of a lot more in tuition etc. just for the privilege.  Miscellaneous means separate but unequal.

=============================

28… Data on the refugee recognition administration from 1982 to the end of December 2007 are as follows:

Applications accepted 5,698
Results Approved 451
Denied 3,608
Withdrawn and others 584

COMMENT:  This is a pretty shameful ratio, don’t you think?  Look at the timeline — a total of 451 people granted refugee status over 25 years!  More than 90% of a pretty negligible number to begin with rejected or withdrawn.  As I wrote for the Japan Times last December:

“Japan even refuses to fulfill simple obligations as a developed nation–not only because it won’t pass a law against racial discrimination.  It won’t even take people who would come here no matter how poorly they’re treated.  Despite being the third-largest donor to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Japan accepted only 34 asylum-seekers in 2006 (compared to 23,296 in the US and 6,330 in Britain that year), and a total of only 1,975 since it signed the Refugee Convention back in 1951!  Take our money, keep your aliens.”

http://www.debito.org/japantimes121807.html

The things you can say with a straight face…

=============================

34… The Human Rights Protection Bill, which was repealed in October 2003 and is under further elaboration by the Ministry of Justice, expressly prohibits any unfair treatment or discriminatory acts based on race, ethnicity and other criteria. It provides that the independent human rights committee take redress measures in a simple, quick and flexible manner against these human rights abuses, thereby creating a human rights redress system that is more effective than the existing system.

COMMENT:  This is “Vaporware“, or “unrealized gains”.  You’re talking about the good a law does even though it doesn’t even exist — in fact, was repealed?  What a sorry excuse of a spin.

=============================

35. Given that the police becomes deeply involved in human rights issues when it performs its duties such as investigating crimes, the ‘Rules Governing Police Officer’s Ethics and Service’ (National Public Safety Commission Rule No. 1 of 2000) prescribe ‘Fundamentals of Service Ethics’, which rests upon respect for human rights as one of its pillars. The Government also proactively implements human rights education for police since it considers education on service ethics as the top priority among the various themes covered by the education of police officers.

Newly hired police officers and those who are about to be promoted are educated at police academies with regard to human rights through classes of jurisprudence including the Constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure and service ethics.

Police officers who are engaged in crime investigations, detainment operations, and assistance for victims are thoroughly educated to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure appropriate execution of duties that takes into consideration the human rights of suspects, detainees, crime victims, and others. Such education is offered using every possible occasion such as police academy classes and training sessions provided at police headquarters and police stations.

COMMENT:  Given police’s rights of search, seizure, lack of habeas corpus, and official policy targeting of NJ as potential criminal suspects, terrorists, and carriers of contagious diseases, it’s hard to argue this human rights training is having much effect.

=============================

37. Regarding the reservations made by Japan on Paragraphs (a) and (b) of Article 4 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, see Paragraphs 72-74 of the Initial and Second Periodic Report.

38. The concept laid down in Article 4 may cover an extremely wide range of acts carried out in various situations and in various manners. Restricting all these acts with punitive laws that go beyond the existing legal system in Japan may conflict with what the Constitution guarantees, including the freedom of expression that strictly demands the necessity and rationale for its restrictions, and with the principle of legality of crime and punishment that requires concreteness and clarity in determining the punishable acts and penalties. It is on the basis of this judgment that the Japanese Government made its reservations about Article 4 (a) and (b) of the Convention.

In addition, the Government of Japan does not believe that in present-day Japan racist thoughts are disseminated and racial discrimination are fanned to the extent that would warrant consideration of enactment of laws to administer punishment by retracting the above reservation even at the risk of unduly stifling legitimate speech.

COMMENT:  So once again, for the second decade now, we have Japan saying that we’ll sign the CERD but we won’t enforce it through any anti-discrimination laws.  We don’t need laws (after all, we don’t have racist thoughts being disseminated — never mind GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine — or racial discrimination being fanned) — actually, those laws may even be unconstitutional!  The UN does not agree, as they GOJ says immediately following:

Japan was advised to retract the reservation it made about Article 4 (a) and (b) in the concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in consideration of the Initial and Second Periodic Report. However, for the reasons given above, Japan does not intend to retract the said reservation.

=============================

Right to utilize Places or Services Intended for Use by the General Public

56. In terms of equal treatment in using the services at hotels, restaurants, cafes, and theaters, the Law Concerning Proper Management and Promotion of Businesses related to Environment and Hygiene provides that measures should be taken to safeguard the benefit for users and consumers at such services. For instance, Centers for Environment and Sanitation Management Guidance ensure proper response to complaints from the consumers.

COMMENT:  Sure.  How many of these places fall under these laws have JAPANESE ONLY signs and policies up and in practice?  Those measures are supposed to work, no?  They didn’t in the Otaru Onsens Case, when we were told by the Hokensho and other administrative bodies that laws only covered sanitation and environment, not racial discrimination.

This is another GOJ lie.

In particular, the Hotel Business Law prohibits hotels from refusing a customer merely on the basis of race or ethnicity. Likewise, the Regulations for the Enforcement of the Law for Improvement of International Tourist Hotel Facilities prohibit discriminatory treatment according to the nationality of guests, such as charging different rates depending on guests’ nationality for services such as accommodation and meals provided by registered inns and hotels.

COMMENT:  And this is why we have hotels with JAPANESE ONLY signs up, and why even local government tourist boards (such as Fukushima Prefecture) provides online advertising to hotels that refuse foreigners?  Having it on the books does not mean it gets enforced.

=============================

40. With regard to ‘acts of violence … against any race or group of persons of another colour or ethnic origin’, Japan’s position remains unchanged from the last report. Meanwhile, the amendment of the Penal Code in 2004 established the crime of gang rape as an act of violence (Article 178-2), and increased the severity of the punishment for a number of crimes, including that of homicide (Article 199), bodily injury (Article 204), and robbery (Article 236).

COMMENT:  Read the above carefully.  The GOJ is asked about racially-motivated violence, and it answers saying that punishments have been made more severe.  But not pertaining to racially-motivated violence.  Because there is no specific law banning racially-motivated violence in Japan.  The UN is asking a pineapple question and getting a banana answer.

=============================

42…In particular, the ‘Guidelines for Defamation and Privacy’, which were adopted by the Telecommunications Carriers Association as a code of conduct for Internet service providers (ISPs) and similar businesses, at the same time of the enforcement of the Provider Liability Limitation Law, were revised in October 2004. The revision introduced a procedure for fighting serious human rights abuse cases, in which the human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice are authorized to request ISPs to delete information that infringes on the rights of others. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has supported efforts to widely disseminate awareness of these guidelines.

Furthermore, since August 2005, the Government has convened the ‘Study Group on Actions against Illegal and Harmful Information on the Internet’ comprised of academics and members of industry associations to examine the voluntary measures taken by ISPs against illegal and harmful information on the Internet and to discuss effective ways to support those measures.

COMMENT:  Thanks for discussing.  But that’s just more Vaporware.  Meanwhile, online libel still continues apace, and offenders are not being prosecuted for ignoring court orders because contempt of court in Japan is too weak to convert civil court cases into criminal offenses.

=============================

66. Below are examples of civil cases which are recognized as ‘racial discrimination’ cases.

(a) Sapporo District Court Decision on November 11, 2002

A community bathhouse proprietor refused to allow foreign nationals or naturalized citizens to bathe in his bathhouse because they were “foreigners”. The proprietor’s act was judged as constituting an illegal act of racial discrimination that violated Paragraph 1, Article 14 of the Constitution of Japan, Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the spirit of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Recognizing the tort liability of the defendant, the court granted the plaintiffs right to claim compensation for damages from mental suffering etc.

COMMENT:  Nice way to tell half the story (our story, the Otaru Onsens Case) to your apparent advantage.  For one thing, the court did NOT rule that racial discrimination was the illegal activity; “discriminating too much” was, so that’s a lie.

Also not told is that the local government of Otaru was also sued for violating the UN CERD and let off the hook:  The Supreme Court of Japan did not consider this adjudged case of racial discrimination (Sapporo District and High Courts, and this GOJ report) “a Constitutional issue”.  And the case took four years plus to wend its way through court (2001-2005), hardly an effective means of eliminating racial discrimination that isn’t illegal anyway.

=============================

71. During the course of 2007, there were 21,506 human rights infringement cases for which remedy procedures were commenced, 115 of which were cases where foreigners were unfairly discriminated against because they were foreigners.

Below are two typical cases of discrimination against foreigners based on race and ethnicity that human rights organs disposed of in 2007.

(a) A rental apartment agent refused to act as an agent for two visitors solely because they looked like foreigners. The human rights organ of the Ministry of Justice investigated and concluded that the agent did not have any reasonable grounds for the refusal and gave a warning to the agent. (The result of the disposition was ‘warning’.)

(b) A food products company canceled the informal dicision [sic] to employ a job applicant solely because he is a Korean resident in Japan. The human rights organ of the Ministry of Justice investigated and concluded that the company did not have any reasonable grounds for the cancellation and gave a warning to the president of the company. (The result of the disposition was ‘warning’.)

COMMENT:  Yes, warnings.  No suspension of business licenses.  No arrests.  Nothing else that would actually stop racial discrimination effectively.  So much for the claims above that the Human Rights organs within the Ministry of Justice mean anything.

It’s not worth the time and energy to take these issues up, for many people — think cosmetic and milquetoast measures from the GOJ if not years in court.  No wonder there were so few cases actually filed in 2007 for NJ discrimination.  What difference would it make?  Dig through the report, and you’ll find self-evident weaknesses and contradictory claims throughout.

ENDS

Japan Times: GOJ claims to UN that it has made “every conceivable” effort to eliminate racial discrim

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  Long-time readers may find this guffaw-worthy.  I did.  Especially since it’s titled “the third, fourth, fifth and sixth combined periodic report”  [Japanese pdfEnglish pdf]–indicating just how late they’re filing a report that is actually due every two years.  What bunkum.  More on the GOJ’s relationship with the UN here.  And more here about how the GOJ seeks input from human rights groups but not really (when they allowed right-wingers to shout down a meeting last year).

Finally, just a point of logic: If the GOJ had taken “every conceivable measure” as it claims below, that would naturally include a law against racial discrimination, wouldn’t it?  But no.  And look what happens as a result. Arudou Debito in transit.

==========================
Japan Times Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008

Japan defends steps to end discrimination 

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080826a3.html

Staff writer
OSAKA — In a new report to the United Nations [Japanese pdf, English pdf] the government outlines the situation of ethnic minorities and foreign residents in Japan, claiming it has made “every conceivable” effort over the past several years to eliminate racial discrimination. 

Occasionally sounding on the defensive, the report, released Friday, sidesteps the issue of a comprehensive law prohibiting discrimination between individuals.

Human rights groups and Doudou Diene, the U.N. special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, have called for the passage of a law clearly against racism and xenophobia, as well as the establishment of an independent national human rights monitoring body.

The government has long held that Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality under the law, makes any antidiscrimination legislation superfluous, a point reiterated in the report.

“Japan has taken every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination,” the report’s introduction says, later adding that apartheid is unknown in Japan.

The report covers the situation of the Ainu, Korean residents and other foreigners. The government noted that there were an estimated 23,782 Ainu in 2006.

A Hokkaido Prefectural Government survey in 2006 showed 93.5 percent of Ainu youths go on to high school, and 17.4 percent go on to university, an improvement from recent years but below the national average, in which 98.3 percent of all youths enter high school. About 38 percent of all people who live in municipalities where Ainu reside go on to university, the survey noted.

About 30 percent of Hokkaido’s Ainu said they had experienced discrimination at school, in job interviews or when getting married, or that they knew of someone who had experienced such discrimination, the same survey indicated.

The report to the U.N. notes the Diet’s passage of a resolution in June recognizing the Ainu, and that the government has set up an advisory panel to discuss Ainu policies.

ENDS

 

 

 

UNHCR on Japan’s UN Human Rights Review, June 30, 2008

mytest

 Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

(Latest UN report.  Lots on trafficking, some on child rights and corporal punishment, very little to nothing on racial discrimination in general.  Anyway, baby steps.  Data of note to Debito.org italicized.  Debito)

30/06/2008
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Summary of the State under Review
Interactive dialogue and responses by the State under Revi
ew
Courtesy of Eric Kalmus

Conclusions and/or Recommendations

On 28 February 2008, the Human Rights Council selected the following group
of rapporteurs (troika) to facilitate the review of Japan: Djibouti, France
and Indonesia. The delegation of Japan was headed by H.E. Mr Yoshitaka
Akimoto, Ambassador in charge of United Nations Affairs, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs.

(i) Summary of the State under Review
Japan stated that it regards the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of
International Child Abduction and the Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable
Law, Recognition, and Cooperation in respect of Parental Responsibility and
Measures for the Protection of Children as effective tools for children’s
rights and welfare, and will continue to study the possible conclusion of
the two conventions by giving due consideration to, inter alia, the current
social system, and the cultural situation of Japan.

[NB:  Even though PM Fukuda has recently made it clear he sees no need for legislation to back up aspects of the treaty, so one wonders how the Convention will be enforced.]

– On the question of the marriageable age in Japan, it was explained that in
February 1996, the Legislative Council of the Minister of Justice submitted
an outline of a Bill to Revise Part of the Civil Code suggesting that the
marriageable age should be 18 years for both men and women. Japan stated
that this issue constitutes an important subject involving the marriage
system and the concept of a family and since there were various opinions
across all levels of civil society, close attention was being paid to trends
in public opinion.

(ii) Interactive Dialogue with the State under Review
– Algeria recommended that Japan implement the calls by, inter alia, the
Committee on the Rights of the Child to establish human rights institutions
in accordance with the Paris Principles as soon as possible.

– Algeria also asked for information on how Japan proposes to address the
issue of violence against women and girls.

– Philippines encouraged Japan to further develop appropriate strategies and
programmes to counter the negative effects of ‘ijime’ or bullying in
schools.

– China welcomed the implementation of comprehensive legal support and
awareness activities, including on child abuse and child pornography.

– Referring to reports indicating, inter alia, a high prevalence of
gender-based violence and child abuse, Canada recommended that Japan
continue to take measures to reduce the incidence of violence against women
and children, inter alia, by ensuring that law enforcement officials receive
human rights training, and funding recovery and counselling centres for
victims of violence.

– Canada referred to studies showing that an increase in international
marriages has resulted in an increase in complex divorce and custody cases
and noted that there is no formal mechanism to deal with international child
custody cases. It recommended that Japan develop a mechanism to ensure the
prompt return of children who have been wrongfully removed from or prevented
from returning to their habitual place of residence, and also examine the
possibility of acceding to the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of
International Child Abduction.

– While recognizing measures already taken by Japan, Canada recommended that
it continue its efforts to combat trafficking in persons with a special
emphasis on women and children.
– With regard to measures to prevent trafficking in persons, Japan provided
information, inter alia, on special provisions enabling victims of
trafficking to stabilise their legal status, and that they are provided with
medical treatment. An anonymous reporting line was established in 2007 to
assist victims, and leaflets with information are published in nine
languages. If victims wish to return to their home countries, Japan closely
coordinates with interested agencies to support this and with other
countries on these issues.
– The Ministry of Justice has developed protection systems to address the
issue of bullying in schools, including the establishment of the Children’s
Rights Hotline and the circulation of Children’s Rights SOS lettercards to
all elementary and secondary schools. The Ministry of Education, Culture,
Sports, Science and Technology is promoting the activities of the local
schools and the boards of education through such activities as the provision
of guidance and seminars, organizing model programmes to solve problems of
bullying and violence at school, and supporting the school counselling
system.
– Japan noted that various foreigners’ schools, including Korean schools,
are accepted as miscellaneous schools by the prefectures and that there is
no discrimination between other miscellaneous schools and Korean schools.
– With respect to the international standards concerning the rights of the
child and women, Mexico would appreciate information on measures that may
currently be applied concerning civil rights and protection against violence
and trafficking and the necessary support for these victims.

– The Netherlands recommended that Japan adhere to the 1980 Hague Convention
of Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

– Brazil thanked Japan for its full support and participation in the Third
World Congress Against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, to
be held in Rio de Janeiro in November 2008. While recognizing measures taken
by Japan in various other fields of human rights, it asked Japan about the
main concrete steps taken in the promotion and the fulfilment of the rights
of the child and of women.

– Turkey noted the high legal standards in Japan for the protection of
vulnerable groups, in particular children, elderly and the people with
disabilities. It noted that there are specific legal provisions aimed to
protect the children from abuse, prostitution and child pornography and
encouraged Japan to take further steps related to recovery and counselling
services for victims.
– Regarding corporal punishment of children, it noted that the existing law
does not cover punishment at home and wished to learn whether there is any
plan to extend the scope of the concerned legislation.

– Ukraine noted with satisfaction the measures regarding the rights of the
child and encouraged Japan to continue its efforts in this area.

– Azerbaijan asked for Japan’s views on implementing the recommendation of
the Committee on the Rights of the Child to amend its legislation to
eliminate any discrimination against children born out of wedlock.
– Following the interventions, Japan noted significant changes including in
the social environment, and that child prostitution, child pornography and
child abuse are becoming more serious and referred to measures taken in
order to address such changes, inter alia, to recent legislation passed on
these issues.

– Jordan commended Japan on the effort to establish a legal and
institutional framework for the promotion of human rights and asked about
the challenges that it faces in protecting the victims of trafficking.

– Italy noted that corporal punishment, although legally prohibited in
schools, continues to be widely practiced and asked what measures had been
taken to address the concerns expressed by the Committee on the Rights of
the Child in this regard and recommended that Japan expressly prohibit all
forms of corporal punishment of children and promote positive and
non-violent forms of discipline.
– Japan informed that corporal punishment by teachers and principals is
prohibited in the School Education Law and also that it promotes non-violent
measures based on trust between the teachers and students. In the case that
corporal punishment is actually carried out by school teachers, they are
reprimanded through the appropriate procedures.

(iii) Conclusions and/or Recommendations
In the course of the discussion, the following recommendations were made to
Japan:
– Consider ratifying/Ratify the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of
International Child Abduction, 1980 (Canada, Netherlands);
– Encourage the continued taking of measures relating to discrimination
against women in particular to raise the age of marriage to 18 for women as
for men (France);
– Continue to take measures to reduce the incidence of violence against
women and children, inter alia, by ensuring that law enforcement officials
receive human rights training, and to fund recovery and counselling centres
for victims of violence (Canada);
– Continue the efforts to combat trafficking in persons with a special
emphasis on women and children (Canada);
– Develop a mechanism to ensure the prompt return of children who have been
wrongly removed from or prevented from returning to their habitual place of
residence (Canada);
– Prohibit expressly all forms of corporal punishment of children and
promote positive and non-violent forms of discipline (Italy);

Organisation Contact Details:

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

ENDS

Japan Times 4th JUST BE CAUSE column on “Good Grass Roots” June 3 2008

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

GOOD NEWS FROM GRASS ROOTS
JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 4
By Arudou Debito
Japan Times June 3, 2008
Draft ten with links to sources.

Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20080603ad.html

Reader Rodney in Vancouver recently emailed:  “I’ve often found your articles informative and useful, but they tend to take a tone of complaint.  Please tell us about some face-to-face, grassroots efforts that have helped make Japanese more considerate and respectful of those who are different.”

Thanks.  Yes, my essays sound like “complaints” because I focus on ongoing issues that need redress.  That doesn’t mean I don’t see the good news too.  Here are 700 words to prove that (apologies for leaving out anyone’s favorite topic):

First up, the labor unions (i.e. the ones that let non-Japanese join, even help run).  Their annual Marches in March, for example, have made it clear to the media (and nasty employers like NOVA) that non-Japanese workers are living in and working for Japan–and that they are ready to stand up for themselves, in both collective bargaining and public demonstrations.

These groups have gained the ear of the media and national Diet members, pointing out the legal ambiguity of Trainee Visas, and systematic abuses of imported labor such as virtual slavery and even child labor. For example, Lower House member (and former Prime Ministerial candidate) Taro Kono in 2006 called the entire work visa regime “a swindle”, and opened ministerial debate on revising it.

In the same vein, local NGOs are helping NJ workers learn Japanese and find their way around Japan’s social safety net.  Local governments with high NJ populations have likewise begun multilingual services; Shizuoka Prefecture even abolished their practice of denying Kokumin Hoken health insurance to NJ (on the grounds that NJ weren’t “kokumin”, or citizens).

These governments are holding regular meetings, issuing formal petitions (such as the Hamamatsu and Yokkaichi Sengens) to the national government, recommending they improve NJ education, social insurance, and registration procedures.

Still more NGOs and concerned citizens are petitioning the United Nations.  Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene has thrice visited Japan on their invitation, reporting that racial discrimination here is “deep and profound” and demanding Japan pass laws against it.

Although the government largely ignored Diene’s reports, United Nations representatives did not.  The Human Rights Council frequently referenced them when questioning Japan’s commitment to human rights last May.  That’s how big these issues can get.

More successes from the grassroots:  Separated/divorced NJ parents with no custody (or even access) to their Japanese children have drawn attention to Japan’s unwillingness to abide by international standards against child abduction.  After international media coverage and pressure, Japan announced last month it would finally sign the Hague Convention on Child Abductions by 2010.

Decades of civil disobedience by “Zainichi” Korean Permanent Residents led to the abolition of all NJ fingerprinting in 1999.  Although claims of “terrorism and crime” led to Japan reinstating NJ fingerprinting at points of entry into the country in November, the Zainichis were granted an exception.

Last year, a viciously racist magazine on foreign crime entitled “Gaijin Hanzai” found its way into convenience stores nationwide (Zeit Gist March 20, 2007).  Internet mail campaigns and direct negotiation with store managers occasioned its withdrawal from the market–even helped bankrupt the publisher.

And of course, there is the perennial campaign against “Japanese Only” establishments, which often exclude any customer who doesn’t “look Japanese”.  Following Brazilian Ana Bortz’s 1999 court victory against a Hamamatsu jewelry store, I was one plaintiff in another successful lawsuit (2001-2005) against a public bath.  The Otaru Onsens Case has become, according to law schools, a landmark lawsuit in Postwar Japan.

It’s a long story, but here’s the “face-to-face” for Rodney:  Only one Otaru bathhouse got sued because we went to each one (and a number of others around the country) for long chats.  One owner even became my friend, and, heartsick at what he was doing, took his “no foreigner” signs down.  As did many other places when persuaded politely by us. (More in my book Japanese Only.)

These are the butterflies flapping up a storm, sweeping down barrier after barrier.  Things are indeed getting better in many ways for NJ residents.

And that’s partly because we have shed our “cultural relativism” and “guestism”, pushing more for our due in a society that needs us.

People are listening.  Some steps forward, some back.  But we shall proceed and succeed, as the above examples demonstrate.

====================

HANDBOOKcover.jpgArudou Debito is co-author of Handbook For Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan. A version of this essay with links to these issues at www.debito.org/japantimes060308.html

720 words

ENDS

Terrie’s Take 469: GOJ to sign Hague Convention on Child Abduction by 2010

mytest

HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpgwelcomesticker.jpgFranca-color.jpg
Hi Blog. The GOJ recently told the United Nations Human Rights Council that it suddenly has an interest in upholding international treaty against child abductions. Witness:

============================
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review
Second session, Geneva, 5 – 19 May 2008
A/HRC/WG.6/2/L.10 14 May 2008
DRAFT REPORT OF THE WORKING GROUP ON THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
Japan
(excerpt)
6. “Responding to various written questions submitted in advance, Japan stated its
willingness to cooperate with Special Rapporteurs, including arranging visits to the country
as time permits. Japan was also studying the relationship between the provisions of the
Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture protocol and domestic legislation,
including on how the “visits” mentioned in the protocol will be carried out in practice. It
stated that it regards the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child
Abduction and the Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, and
Cooperation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of
Children as effective tools for children’s rights and welfare, and will continue to study the
possible conclusion of the two conventions by giving due consideration to, inter alia, the
current social system, and the cultural situation of Japan.”

http://www.upr-info.org/IMG/pdf/UPR-_Japan_WG_report__text.pdf

(More excerpts on Debito.org here.)

============================

Well, what a nice little article in ABC News and a bit of pressure from a couple of governments won’t do! As witnessed in this nice little roundup in Terrie’s Take from last weekend. Forwarding in its entirety. Bests, Arudou Debito in Sapporo

* * * * * * * * * T E R R I E ‘S T A K E * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.
(
http://www.terrie.com)

General Edition Sunday, May 18, 2008 Issue No. 469 (excerpt)

Two weeks ago, the Japanese government made a notable announcement that may make Japan more compatible with the legal conventions used internationally, and will be of particular benefit to non-Japanese spouses of Japanese. The announcement was that by 2010, Japan would sign the the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an international legal construct that attempts to deal with the thorny issue of court jurisdiction when children of international marriages are moved cross-border, often by a parent trying to thwart a court ruling in the previous jurisdiction.

Currently, Japan is known as a haven for disaffected Japanese spouses who, in getting divorced, abscond with their kids back to Japan. Once in Japan they can dare their foreign spouses to try getting the kids back — something that despite around 13,000 international divorces a year in Japan and more overseas, has NEVER happened.

The reason for this astounding statistic, that of zero repatriations of abducted children from international marriages after the kids have been abducted to Japan, is entirely to do with the attitudes of the Japanese judiciary and their wish to maintain 19th Century customs in the face of international pressure. Japan has ratified many parts of the Hague Convention treaties over the years, but in terms of repatriation of kids, they have been claiming for 20 years now to be “studying” the issue. That’s Japan-speak for “we’re not interested in making any changes”.

Our guess is that the recent announcement occurred after pressure from the USA and Canada, in particular. Things started to come to a head about 5 years ago, when fed up by repeating occurences of child abductions from both of those countries, and despite court decisions there for custody to go to the local parent, the consular staff of a number of these foreign embassies started holding annual summits to discuss the problem. These discussions escalated to pressure on foreign governmental agencies and politicians in some of Japan’s biggest trading partners — and finally someone spoke to the Japanese government at a sufficiently high enough level to get their attention.

The subject became especially sensitive when the Japanese were at the peak of their indignation over the North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens several years ago, and were seeking international support. All the while, Japanese law allowed similar types of abductions here.

In case you’re not up on the state of play, there were 44,000 international marriages registered in Japan in 2006, and probably a good percentage of that number again of Japanese marrying overseas but not bothering to register back in Japan. The divorce rate within Japan is about 30%, and for Japanese living overseas (take the US as an example), it is typical of the local population, so more like 50%-60%. Thus there are a lot of international separations — many of which are not amicable.

But it’s when the kids are involved that things start getting really nasty. Usually in the case of a divorced international couple going to court overseas and after custody is awarded, if one of the parents fears a possible adbuction situation, the couple can be placed under a restraining order not to travel without the other spouse’s consent. The USA, Canada, Australia, and UK all do this. The kids’ passports will often be withheld as well. Unfortunately, there have been a number of cases where the Japanese spouse then “loses” the kids Japanese passports and applies to the local consulate for replacements — only to hop a flight back to Tokyo a few hours later, with the kids in tow.

Once in Japan, the jurisdiction suddenly falls to the Japanese courts, even if there is a foreign arrest warrant out for the absconding partner, and in several cases, even if there is an Interpol arrest warrant out. In Japan, there is no concept of joint custody, and the partner allowed to keep the kids is the one that has held them for the previous few months.

The courts’ opinion here is that kids need a stable environment, and the act of being the only guardian for a period of time, even if that guardian was in hiding, qualifies for this — unless the kids are under 5 years old, in which case they will typically be returned to the mother (if the father is the abscondee), or to the father if the mother has deceased. But not always. There are cases where the Japanese mother has died and the Japanese grandparents have kept the kids, instead of returning them to the foreign father. You can read more about this sad state of affairs at http://www.crnjapan.com/en/.

You won’t believe that this kind of thing is still going on in a first-world country like Japan in the 21st century.

The Japanese court attitude thereby encourages Japanese spouses wanting to hang on to their kids to hightail it back to Japan and lie low for 6 months. Currently there has been no case, even after the Japanese Supreme Court has awarded rightful custody to the foreign parent, where that aggrieved foreign parent has been able to go get their kids back. The reason is quite simply that Japan doesn’t have a mechanism for properly enforcing civil suit judgments, and typically a breach of an order in a civil suit does not result in the offender being subject to a subsequent criminal suit.

Thus, the Hague Convention on child abduction provides a mechanism whereby if children are illegally removed from their country of habitual residence, they must be returned, and the jurisdiction for subsequent court decisions is taken out of the hands of the Japanese courts. This is the first step in making international court rulings involving kids, stick.

We believe that this is going to be a long and slow process, but once the treaty is signed and the first few cases start to be heard, either the kids involved will be returned or the parent trying to hang on to them will create an international brouhaha that will highlight to the world the lack of protection of rights for international parents here in Japan. Who knows, maybe this will start another process — that of allowing foreigners actually residing within Japan to also regain the simple right of access to their children after a divorce.

But in reality we think this level of change will take several more generations and a lot more foreigners living in Japan to achieve…
ENDS

Highlights of UN OHCHR Universal Periodic Review of Japan’s Human Rights Record, May 14, 2008

mytest

HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpgwelcomesticker.jpgFranca-color.jpg

Hi Blog. Here’s what investigating countries at the United Nations are saying about Japan’s human rights record.

Full file at http://www.upr-info.org/IMG/pdf/UPR-_Japan_WG_report__text.pdf, or
http://www.debito.org/UPR-JapanWGreport051408.pdf

First, some highlights of what the GOJ itself says it’s doing about following treaties and human rights standards, then other countries respond with a surprising degree of awareness. The biggest issues seem to be the death penalty, human trafficking, and rights for women (with historical issues brought up by neighboring Asian countries), but as far as Debito.org is concerned, there is plenty of attention devoted to issues we’ve been raising all along. Even if Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s reports on racism in Japan are mostly being ignored by our government, they certainly are being read by members of the UN.

Do try to read parts of the UPR Report with a straight face, as that’s what our government is making a number of risible claims with. I offer links to sections on Debito.org that are at odds with the GOJ’s claims. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

==============================
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review
Second session, Geneva, 5 – 19 May 2008
A/HRC/WG.6/2/L.10 14 May 2008
DRAFT REPORT OF THE WORKING GROUP ON THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
Japan
(excerpt)
7. Japan attached great importance to human rights education, based on the conviction that in order for all people to enjoy human rights and live contented lives, each citizen must fulfil his or her responsibility to uphold the freedoms and rights guaranteed to them, and at the same time must correctly understand and respect other people’s human rights. It referred to initiatives taken. Regarding the human rights of foreign residents in Japan, it is responding to various needs by establishing Human Rights Counseling Offices for Foreign Nationals with interpretation services at some Legal Affairs Bureaus. It was explained that in March 2002, the Ministry of Justice submitted the Human Rights Bill to establish a new Human Rights Commission which was not completed because of the dissolution of the lower house in October 2003, and the Ministry of Justice continued to review the Bill. Japan explained, inter alia, that it has been striving to realize a society without any form of racial or ethnic discrimination and that in order to prevent such human rights violations it pursues the strict implementation of relevant domestic laws and promotes activities for raising public awareness.

[COUNTERARGUMENT regarding the efficacy of these oft-cited “Human Rights Counseling Offices” here: http://www.debito.org/policeapology.html
also http://www.debito.org/japantimes070803.html]

8. …With regard to the police detention system, it was explained that the necessity of detention was strictly examined by the police, a prosecutor, and a judge in due order, and that a judge decides on its necessity and the placement of the detention for a maximum of 10 days. A prosecutor and a judge respectively review the necessity of the extension of the detention, and a judge order is also necessary for the extension, which cannot exceed 20 days in total. The Delegation stated that the substitute detention system was indispensable to carrying out prompt and effective investigations. At the police detention facilities, investigative officers were not allowed to control the treatment of detainees; detention operations were conducted by the detention division of the facility, which is not involved in investigations at all. The Delegation also explained that, regardless of the type of crime committed, detainees can have consultations with their lawyer at anytime and there is no official watch person during the meeting and no time limitation. Under the Penal and Detention Facilities Act, a new system has been introduced to make up a third party committee to inspect detention facilities and to state their opinions on the management of the facilities. In addition, a complaints mechanism has been developed in order to ensure the appropriate treatment of detainees…

[COUNTERARGUMENT regarding the underlined sections above:
http://www.debito.org/?p=1437
http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#arrested
http://www.debito.org/japantimes102305detentions.html
http://www.debito.org/japantimes081407.html
http://www.debito.org/?s=Idubor]

11. On the question of civil society cooperation in the process of drafting the national report, the Delegation indicated, inter alia, that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted information on the UPR system and process on its website, and asked for opinions ofNGOs and ordinary citizens about the government report and that as a result, it received opinions from 11 NGOs and 214 ordinary citizens. Additionally, the Delegation stated that Japan
recognized that there was still room for improvement, and stated that in the international community, due to globalization and environmental changes, new challenges were being faced and that Japan will continue its contribution to achieve better results for the human rights in the international community, in close cooperation with the United Nations, regional communities, other national Governments, and civil society.

[COUNTERARGUMENT: Read what happened at one of their attempts to ask for opinions of civil society–they refused to calm right-wing agitators and brought the meeting to a close, never to open again:
http://www.debito.org/?p=544]

QUESTIONS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES:
16. …Belgium also noted concerns about the prolonged detention in police stations’daiyo kangoku’, the high conviction rate and that several recent cases have indicated that forced confessions have been made, giving rise to regrettable judicial errors. Belgium recommended that in order to avoid the police and the judiciary putting excessive pressure on an accused person to confess: (i) there should be more systematic and intensive work to bring the risk of forced confession to the attention of the police, (ii) interrogation monitoring procedures should be reviewed, (iii) the use of prolonged police detention should be re-examined and (iv) the Criminal Code should be reviewed to ensure its conformity with article 15 of the Convention against Torture.

[MORE ON THIS: http://www.debito.org/?p=415]

18. …It also noted that the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism has requested the Japanese Government to eliminate racial discrimination and xenophobia. China hoped that the Japanese Government will seriously address those concerns and adopt effective measures to implement the recommendations of those mechanisms.

[MORE ON THIS: http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html]

19. …Canada referred to studies showing that an increase in international marriages has resulted in an increase in complex divorce and custody cases and noted that there is no formal mechanism to deal with international child custody cases. It recommended that Japan develop a mechanism to ensure the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully removed from or prevented from returning to their habitual place of residence, and also examine the possibility of acceding to the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

[MORE ON THIS: http://www.debito.org/?p=798
http://www.debito.org/?p=607
http://www.debito.org/?p=1370]

…[Canada also] referred to reports which indicate the prevalent use of prolonged detention of arrested persons, including detention after they appear before a court and up to the point of indictment and recommended that Japan institute mechanisms to enhance procedural guarantees for the detention of detainees.

[MORE ON THIS: http://www.debito.org/?p=1652]

21. …[The] United Kingdom recommended that Japan implement the relevant recommendations of the Committee against Torture with regard to external monitoring of police custody and that it ratify the Optional Protocol to CAT as soon as possible. It also recommended that Japan review the Daiyo Kangoku system in order to ensure that the detention procedure is consistent with its obligations under human rights law. It also wished to know whether the Government is intending to take further measures in response to the concerns raised on these issues in other reports provided for this review. It further recommended that civil society be fully involved in the follow-up process to the UPR at the national level.

THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT RESPONDS

28. Following the interventions, Japan noted that the Government pursues the goals of ensuring equal rights and opportunities for foreigners, respecting foreigners’ culture and values, and promoting mutual understanding to realize a society in which Japanese and foreigners can live together… Japan stressed its efforts, based on its Constitution and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to realize a society where there is no discrimination due to race, ethnic groups or others and its active work towards the elimination of racial discrimination in the United Nations and other forums. The Government noted that foreigners who wish to obtain Japanese nationality are not requested to change their names to Japanese names, and stated that foreigners can decide on their names on their own after naturalization…

OTHER COUNTRIES CONTINUE

33. …Brazil recommended that Japan consider adhering to the compliant procedures of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and that it ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. It recommended that Japan consider establishing legislation defining and prohibiting discrimination in all forms and recommended that it consider a standing invitation to the special procedures.

34. …[Iran] strongly recommended that the Government adopt, as a matter of urgency, a national law against
racism, discrimination and xenophobia and set up an independent mechanism for investigating complaints ofhuman rights violations.

35. The United States of America expressed the hope that Japan’s commitment to democracy and the protection and promotion of human rights would serve as an example for others and wished to know what protections the Government has put in place to ensure that abuses do not occur in immigration detention centres. It also asked whether Japan will allow international monitors to examine the immigration detention centres and make recommendations to strengthen protections, and recommended that Japan permit international monitors to examine immigration centres.

36. …Germany also made reference to the concerns expressed by the Committee against Torture about the systematic use of the Daiyo Kangoku substitute prison system for the prolonged detention of arrested persons. It also noted that nongovernmental organizations had expressed concern regarding the non-regulation of the length of interrogations, restricted access of lawyers to their clients, and non-recording of sessions of interrogation.

40. Guatemala noted that racism and discrimination still exist in the Japanese society, indicating that the fight against all forms of discrimination and the protection of minorities, and especially vulnerable groups, required an appropriate legislative framework and therefore urged Japan to consider introducing a definition of discrimination in its criminal law. In the area ofprotection of the human rights of migrants and the fight against xenophobia, Guatemala noted the recommendation of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism in favour of abolishing the system established by the Migration Office of the Ministry of Justice, calling upon citizens to proceed to anonymous denunciations on its website, of migrants suspected of being in an irregular situation, and recommended that it be abolished because this might constitute an incitation to racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia.

[MORE ON THIS: http://www.debito.org/japantimes033004.html]

THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT RESPONDS

46. …Regarding the question on immigration detention centres, the Government noted that due attention is paid to the human rights of the detainees, and the cases where officials were accused to have committed violence mostly happened coincidently in the course of those official’s controlling the violation ofthe rules in those facilities. Detainees can submit complaints against their treatment to the Minister of Justice. Additionally, to prevent violence at penitentiary institutions, Japan provides officers with education to promote necessary human rights protection measures, and establishes complaints mechanisms and inspection committees. Medical services are provided to prisoners by doctors, and prisoners are transferred to medical prisons to receive necessary medical treatment.

[NOT ALWAYS, ACCORDING TO THE VALENTINE CASE: http://www.debito.org/japantimes081407.html]

OTHER COUNTRIES CONTINUE

50. …According to the information of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, in Japan there are still cases of racial discrimination and xenophobia affecting national minorities, foreigners and migrants. Minorities are in a vulnerable economic and social situation with respect to employment, access to housing, marriage, pension coverage, access to health facilities and education and the State institutions. Russian Federation asked about steps taken to combat the manifestation of racial discrimination and xenophobia.

THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT RESPONDS

59. Japan stated that, in penal institutions, attention should be paid to helping inmates sentenced to the death penalty maintain emotional stability as well as to ensure secure custody. Inmates sentenced to death are notified of their execution on the day of the execution. Japan is concerned that inmates should become emotionally unstable and could suffer serious emotional distress if they are notified in advance of the exact date. For this reason, Japan believes that the current practice is inevitable. The Government did not have statistics on the number of death penalty sentences in 2007, and thus was unable to respond whether there was an increase since 1980 or not. With regard to calls for a moratorium on the death penalty, Japan considered that it would be very cruel to first give the expectation to the prisoners that they will not be executed, and later inform them that they will be executed. With regard to imprisonment without parole, Japan considered that this may be a cruel and problematic system that has the possibility to destroy the personal character of prisoners; therefore the introduction of such a system needs to be considered very carefully.

[COUNTERARGUMENT: Fascinating logic, not based upon any science. Not everyone agrees: http://www.debito.org/?p=1426]

…On the question of the high rate of convictions, the Government noted that this is the aggregated result of the judgements given by each court, and that the criminal procedures are based on the very thorough investigation, very restrictive indictment based on the investigation and the proper proving at the trial, thus it does not consider high conviction rates as abnormal.

[COUNTERARGUMENT: 99.9% CONVICTION RATES ARE “NOT ABNORMAL”? Again, not everyone agrees, including former NPA prosecutor and now Dietmember Kamei Shizuka: http://www.debito.org/?p=1426]

…While it acknowledged criticism against the substitute detention system, the Government noted that it makes various efforts to ensure appropriate treatment of the detainees. It also pointed out that the system does not discriminate between Japanese and foreign detainees.

[COUNTERARGUMENT: Except that foreigners cannot be released bail, and cannot be released under any circumstances even when declared innocent by a court, during the prosecution’s appeal. That’s discriminating between Japanese and foreign detainees.
http://www.debito.org/?p=1447
http://www.debito.org/?p=1659]

…Japan also noted operations of the substitute detention system continue to be improved. On the issue of the video-recording of interrogations, the Delegation stated that statements by the suspect is important in order to elucidate the truth in investigations and that the mandating to record all interrogation sometimes can hamper relations between the investigator and the criminal, and may serve to stop the suspect from telling the truth. Japan noted that a careful consideration is needed of the introduction of such monitoring and video-taping.

[COUNTERARGUMENT: Fascinating logic, again not based upon any science. Better not videotape or the suspect might lie? That reason was made up on the fly.]

SUMMARY RECOMMENDATIONS MADE WHICH ARE RELEVANT TO DEBITO.ORG

6. Adapt national legislation to bring it into line with the principles of equality and non-discrimination. (Slovenia); Consider establishing legislation defining and prohibiting discrimination in all forms (Brazil); Consider introducing a definition of discrimination in its criminal law (Guatemala); Adopt, as a matter of urgency, a national law against racism, discrimination and xenophobia (Islamic Republic of Iran);

13. Ensure that the interrogation of detainees in police custody are systematically monitored and recorded and that the Code of Criminal Procedure is harmonized with article 15 of the Convention against Torture and article 14, paragraph 3, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and uphold the right of defence to have access to all relevant materials (Algeria); (i) Work more systematically and intensively to bring the risk of forced confession to the attention of the police, (ii) review interrogation monitoring procedures, (iii) re-examine the use of prolonged police detention and (iv) review the Criminal Code to ensure its conformity with article 15 of the Convention against Torture, in order to avoid the police and judiciary putting excessive pressure on the accused to confess (Belgium); Institute mechanisms to enhance procedural guarantees for the detention of detainees (Canada); Review the Daiyo Kangoku system in order to ensure that the detention procedure is consistent with its obligations under human rights law and implement the Committee against Torture’s recommendation with regard to external monitoring ofpolice custody (United Kingdom);

16. Develop a mechanism to ensure the prompt return of children who have been wrongly removed from or prevented from returning to their habitual place of residence (Canada);
ENDS

UN OHCHR Minority Update: Japan reviewed by Human Rights Council

mytest

HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpgwelcomesticker.jpgFranca-color.jpg

Hi Blog. Here are two updates on Japan’s human rights behavior being considered for periodic review by the UN Human Rights Council. This is a new activity by the UN after the old Human Rights Commission was disbanded, accused for many years of having the world’s worst human-rights offenders as leaders, covering up their own abuses.

Now under this new organ with the same acronym, everyone is being subject to review once every four years. And according to the press releases below, Japan’s turn came last week. Forwarding primary-source documents to you. Pertinent sections underlined.

As it says below, you can also submit documents to the OHCHR if you want about human rights abuses in Japan. Five pages max, deadline July 14, 2008, by email (UPRsubmissions AT ohchr DOT org). Arudou Debito in Sapporo

///////////////////////////////////////////
Minority Update
N°12 – March-April 2008
United Nations
OHCHR Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Unit
Courtesy Ilona Klímová-Alexander
ialexander AT ohchr DOT org
(excerpt)

Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
General Assembly Resolution 60/251, decided that the Human Rights Council (HRC) shall “undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments…”.

The first session of the UPR Working Group (UPR WG) of the HRC took place from 7-18 April 2008 and considered the human rights record of the following countries: Bahrain, Ecuador, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, Finland, United Kingdom, India, Brazil, Philippines, Algeria, Poland, Netherlands, South Africa, Czech Republic, and Argentina.

The second session of the UPR WG is taking place from 5-19 May 2008 and considers the human rights record of the following countries: Gabon, Ghana, Peru, Guatemala, Benin, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Pakistan, Zambia, Japan, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, France, Tonga, Romania, and Mali.

The reports, as adopted by the UPR WG, as well as statements by States, are accessible at the UPR section of the Extranet at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/form.htm. The meetings of the sessions can be viewed through the UN webcast, either live or archived (http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/index.asp).

OHCHR posts daily highlights of the sessions of the UPR WG, providing an overview of the interactive dialogues by listing the issues raised, and which are prepared for use by the media, i.e. they are not an official record. The daily highlights can be accessed at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/MeetingsHighlightsSession2.aspx.

In June 2008, at the eighth session of the Human Rights Council (HRC), the HRC plenary will adopt outcome documents on each country reviewed at the 1st and 2nd sessions of UPR WG. At the HRC plenary, one hour has been allotted for each country, during which NGOs have the possibility to make interventions (differently from the 3-hour country sessions at the WG on the UPR, where interventions are limited to States).

The third session of the UPR WG is scheduled from 1 to 12 December 2008 and will consider the following countries: Botswana, Bahamas, Burundi, Luxembourg, Barbados, Montenegro, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Liechtenstein, Serbia, Turkmenistan, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Colombia, Uzbekistan, and Tuvalu.

NGOs, wishing to submit information for consideration and possible inclusion by OHCHR in a summary of stakeholders’ input for this UPR review, are invited to send their contributions. The deadline for submission of contributions by NGOs to the third session of the WG on the UPR has been set at 14 July 2008. Please note that the page limit for submissions is 5 pages when submitted by individual stakeholders, and 10 pages when submitted by large coalitions of stakeholders. More detailed reports may be attached for reference only. This information will be available on line for others to access. Submissions should be sent to the following email address: UPRsubmissions AT ohchr DOT org.

For more information see http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx
Contact person: Erik Friberg efriberg AT ohchr.org.

===========================
(skip)

17 March to 7 April 2008 – CCPR
The Human Rights Committee (CCPR) held its 92nd session from 17 March to 7 April 2008 in New York. The following State party reports were examined during this session: Tunisia, Botswana, Republic of Macedonia, and Panama. The Committee expressed concern at the persisting problems faced by minorities in the Republic of Macedonia, such as police violence, lack of language support in judicial proceedings, inadequacy of educational opportunities and lack of a protective and non-discriminatory learning environment. The Country Report Task Forces considered and adopted a list of issues on reports submitted by Japan, France, Nicaragua and Ireland. Concluding observations and more information are available at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/hrcs92.htm

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////

How did things turn out? Here is the overview from the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) group of the Human Rights Commission.

Again, this is only an overview. I’ll have the full review up here on Japan on Debito.org this evening. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Japan’s review in the Working Group,
Friday 09 May 2008, Afternoon 2.30 pm– 5.30 pm
Overview of the Working Group session
Courtesy of UPR-Info.org and IMADR-JC
http://www.upr-info.org/IMG/pdf/Summary_of_Japan_s_review.pdf
The Troika
The Troika was composed of representatives from France, Indonesia and Djibouti. Only France took the floor during the interactive dialogue, mentioning its membership in the Troika.
Presentation by Japan
Speaking time: 22 minutes
Speaker: H.E. Mr. Yoshitaka Akimoto, Ambassador in charge of UN Affairs, Ministry of
Foreign Affairs of Japan

Recognition of problems and/or concerns: the delegation didn’t point out challenges or recognized concerns.

Achievements made: signature of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances and is making efforts to ratify them; became party of the Rome Statute in the International Criminal Court (in October 2007); Basic Plan for the Promotion of Human Rights Education and Encouragement (2002); establishment of Human Rights Counseling Offices for Foreign Nationals; submission by the Minister of Justice of the Human Rights Bill to establish a new independent Human Right commission; access to the ICERD in 1995 and domestic laws for racial discrimination; adoption of the Second Basic Plan for gender Equality (2005); laws in 2005 and 2006 for improving the conditions of detainees; the Constitution emphasises respects for fundamental human rights;

Other issues: supports the view that human rights are a legitimate concern of the international community;

Answers to written questions: cooperation with Special Rapporteurs (Latvia); intention to ratify the Optional Protocol to CAT (UK); adherence to The Hague Convention on Child Abduction of 25 October 1980” and “The Convention Parental Responsibility and Protection of Children of 19 October 1996 (UK); existence and status of National Human Rights Organizations (UK); measures to eliminate racial discrimination; discrimination against women (including marriageable age); conditions of detention; police detention system; death penalty; participation of the civil society for the national report. Interactive dialogue

Number of countries that took the floor

42 States took the floor during the interactive dialogue: 26 members States of the Human Rights Council (the Philippines, Malaysia, China, Canada, UK, Egypt, France, Slovenia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Brazil, Germany, Republic of Korea, Guatemala, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Italy, Russian Federation, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Romania, Pakistan, Peru); 16 non-member States (Algeria, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Belgium, Tunisia, Luxemburg, Portugal, Poland, Albany, Islamic Republic of Iran, USA, Mauritania, Latvia, Turkey, Argentina, Slovakia, Vietnam).

Questions/issues raised

Indigenous Peoples – Algeria, Peru; Women’s rights – Portugal, Brazil, Pakistan; Violence against women – Algeria, Philippines (trafficking), China, Canada, Iran (domestic violence); gender equality – Portugal (stereotypes in labour market and political field), Slovenia, Iran (stereotypes); Discrimination against women – France, Slovenia (marriageable age), Germany (women from minorities), Azerbaijan, Romania; Trafficking in persons – Philippines, Canada, Netherlands (Slavery practice of comfort women during WWII), Jordan, Iran (prostitution and exploitation), Romania; Bullying in schools “ijime” – Philippines; Japanese Military Sexual Slavery – North Korea; Death Penalty – Belgium, Luxemburg, Mexico, Switzerland (moratorium), Portugal, Netherlands (training for judges), Brazil; Pre-trial and Detention conditions – Algeria (police custody), Canada, Iran (health care and torture in prison); Police stations “daiyo kangoku” – Algeria, Belgium, Malaysia, United Kingdom; Training in human rights of law enforcement officials – Canada, Tunisia; Rights to development – Egypt; Technique cooperation for developing countries – Tunisia; International human rights instruments – Algeria; Luxemburg; Albania, Mexico, Azerbaijan; Cooperation with Special Procedures – Latvia; Violations on the Internet – Poland; Rights of the Child – China (child abuse and child pornography), Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Italy (corporal punishment in school), Sri Lanka (National Youth Policy); Conscientious objection – Slovenia; National Human Rights Institution – Philippines, Canada, Mexico, Turkey, Qatar; Migrants – Philippines, Brazil, USA (immigration detention centres), Azerbaijan (workers); Racial discrimination – North Korea (against Koreans), China, Brazil, Iran, South Korea, Guatemala; Torture – Brazil; Human Rights education – Ukraine; Old population – Vietnam, Mauritania (old workers); Minorities – Philippines, Peru; Refugees – Slovakia; Asylum seekers – Slovakia;

Recommendations

Conditions of detention

– Review the monitoring of interrogation of detainees to be in accordance with CAT and humanitarian law (Algeria, Belgium, UK)

– Institute procedural measures which protect detainees (Canada)

– Respect of the safeguard guaranty, including in death penalty case (Italy) NHRI

– Establishment of a NHRI in accordance with Paris Principles (Algeria, China, Canada, Qatar)

Human trafficking

– To take measures to deal with military sexual slavery (DPRK)

– To take measures against discrimination against Koreans (unemployment, obligation to change the name) (DPRK)

– Continue efforts in this regard (Canada)

Racial Discrimination

– Immediate measures (DPRK)

– Measures to implement the recommendations made by the SR (China)

– Measures for complaints procedures (France) Women’s rights

– Continuation of the measures for violence against women, including reparations (Canada)

– Measures for gender identity (Canada)

– Measures for comfort women during WWII (France, Republic of Korea)

Death Penalty

– Moratorium in order to abolish death penalty (UK, Luxemburg, Portugal, France, Albany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy)

Participation of civil society

– Integration of the civil society in the following of the report (UK) International Instruments

– Ratification of CAT (UK, Albania)

– Ratification of OP-CEDAW (Portugal, Mexico)

– Ratification of OP-CAT (Mexico, Brazil)

– Ratification of Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Mexico)

– Ratification of International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (Peru)

– Adhere to the complaints procedures of CEDAW and CERD (Brazil)

– Visit of SR (Brazil)

Migrants

– Permit international monitoring for immigration detention centres (USA) Indigenous People

– Review the land rights and other rights of the Ainu population and harmonize it with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Algeria)

– Make a dialogue with indigenous people (Guatemala)

Rights to development

– continue development assistance (Bangladesh)

– extend the efforts regarding to MDG’s (Bangladesh) Minorities

– Establishment of a independent body (Slovakia) Rights of the Child

– Develop a mechanism to ensure the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully removed from or prevented from returning to their habitual place of residence (Canada)

Sexual orientation

– Take measures to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation (Canada) Answers provided by Japan on questions/issues raised and recommendations Racial discrimination (Brazil); Trafficking in persons (Philippines, Canada); Bullying of children in schools (Philippines); Women’ rights; Relationship between North Korea and Japan (North Korea); Sexual orientation (Canada);

Second Round: Rights of the Child; Indigenous peoples (Guatemala); Monitoring of immigration detention centres; Investigation in penal institutions; Death penalty and moratorium; Refugees; National police agency; Immigration; Corporal punishment in schools (Italy).

Issues for follow-up

The delegation argued that it is ready to cooperate with Special Representatives, in order to visit the country. Besides, the Bill to establish a new Human Rights Commission is currently reviewed by the Ministry of Justice.

Pakistan asks for the measures taken for the inclusion of gender perspective in the following of UPR. Furthermore, Slovenia recommends the State to integrate the gender perspective in the following of the report.

States that made solely welcoming statements

Argentina

Human Rights mentioned during the review but on which the delegation did not give a response

Rights to development (Bangladesh); Torture;

Speaking times Overall duration of the review: 2 hours and 41 minutes Of the State under Review – During its opening statement: 24 minutes – Overall speaking time employed to respond to other States’ questions during the interactive dialogue: 38 minutes – Concluding remarks: 1 minute

Disclaimer: note that this document only represents an overview with the aim of providing the list of issues that were raised during the discussion and should therefore not be quoted as an official document of the UPR process.
=================================
ENDS

UN News: first group of 16 nations reviewed by HRC

mytest

HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpgwelcomesticker.jpgFranca-color.jpg
Hi Blog.  Japan’s not yet under the UN Human Rights Council microscope.  But at this rate it soon will be.  And I’m looking forward to seeing comments and excuses about why we still have no law against racial discrimination twelve years after effecting the ICERD.  Arudou Debito in Kurashiki 

//////////////////////////////////////////////

From: UNNews@un.org
Subject: UN REVIEW OF FIRST GROUP OF COUNTRIES’ HUMAN RIGHTS RECORDS WRAPS UP
Date: April 19, 2008 4:01:07 AM JST

The
United Nations Human Rights Council has concluded its review of the first batch of countries as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) – a new mechanism to examine the record of every UN Member State.

The mechanism’s Working Group wrapped up its first session in Geneva today after evaluating the rights records of 16 nations: Bahrain, Ecuador, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia, Finland, the United Kingdom, India, Brazil, the Philippines, Algeria, Poland, the Netherlands, South Africa, the Czech Republic and Argentina.

“Having witnessed the energy which you have all displayed during this session, I have no doubt that we shall collectively rise to the occasion and achieve the primary goal of the UPR, which is the improvement of the human rights situation on the ground,” said Council President Doru Romulus Copstea in a message delivered at the meeting’s close by Vice President Boudewijn Van Eenennaam.

The Working Group’s next session will be held from 5 to 19 May, during which 16 more Member States’ records will be reviewed.

The UPR is one of the reforms which differentiate the Council from the Commission on Human Rights, which it succeeded in 2006.

Under the Review’s work plans, 48 countries are scheduled to be reviewed each year, so that the UN’s complete membership of 192 countries will be reviewed once every four years.

Last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Council to ensure that all countries were scrutinized equally. “The Review must reaffirm that just as human rights are universal, so is our collective respect for them and our commitment to them,” he said.

ENDS

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 

From: UNNews@un.org
Subject: SOME STATES STILL DO NOT RECOGNIZE RACISM’S EXISTENCE, UN RIGHTS CHIEF CAUTIONS
Date: April 22, 2008 8:00:31 AM JST

As
preparatory meetings kicked off today in Geneva in preparation for next year’s review of the landmark 2001 global conference against racism, the top United Nations human rights official warned that some States still do not recognize the existence of racism as a phenomenon.

“National laws and measures to ensure its elimination in most countries are either inadequate or ineffective,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour. “As a result, vulnerable groups continue to suffer aggression while abusers enjoy impunity.”

She added that few nations have implemented the necessary action plans to remedy this situation.

The process to prepare for the 2009 Durban Review Conference began in 2006, but its first substantive meeting was held by the Preparatory Committee today.

The Conference will assess progress and implementation at the regional, national and international levels of the Declaration and Plan of Action adopted by the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

“The Durban Review Conference is not, and should not be seen as, a repetition of the 2001 World Conference,” Ms. Arbour pointed out at the opening meeting of the Preparatory Committee.

Instead, “it is a platform to evaluate progress, an opportunity to reinvigorate commitments, and a vehicle to fine-tune responses in a purposeful and contextual manner.”

According to a press release from Ms. Arbour’s Office, known as OHCHR, progress since the 2001 meeting – a huge event which attracted some 18,000 people – has been patchy.

The High Commissioner acknowledged that the controversy surrounding the original Durban Conference has not completely subsided.

“There is no hiding the fact that the Durban Review Conference, even before moving its first, preparatory steps, has already elicited criticism and continues to raise concerns which, if not squarely confronted and resolved, may ultimately jeopardize a successful outcome of this process,” she said.
ENDS

UN News recent articles on Human Rights Council

mytest

Hi Blog. Here are a gaggle of recent UN News articles on the Human Rights Council, the one which monitors countries (like Japan) on their human rights practices. Here’s hoping they’ll be coming down on Japan soon for it’s broken promises regarding establishing a law against racial discrimination. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

==================================

UN HUMAN RIGHTS BODY BEGINS FIRST-EVER EXAMINATION OF ALL COUNTRIES�-? RECORDS
UN NEWS @un.org, New York, Apr 7 2008 5:00PM
The Universal Periodic Review, a new mechanism to examine the human rights record of every United Nations Member State, was launched today at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Over the next two weeks, a first group of 16 countries �-? starting with Bahrain and Ecuador �-? will have their records scrutinized, as part of the Review, one of the reforms which differentiate the Council from the Commission on Human Rights, which it succeeded in 2006.

The Review meetings will feature interactive discussions between the States in question and a working group comprises all of the Council�-?s 47 members, according to a UN spokesperson.

The discussions will be based on national reports and information from a variety of sources, including treaty bodies, Special Rapporteurs �-? independent experts on specific topics that report to the Council �-? non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions and academics.

Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Czech Republic, Finland, India, Indonesia, Morocco, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Tunisia and the United Kingdom are the other countries being reviewed over the next two weeks.

Under the Review�-?s work plans, 48 countries are scheduled to be reviewed each year, so that the UN�-?s complete membership of 192 countries will be reviewed once every four years.

Last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Council to assure that all countries were scrutinized equally. �-�The Review must reaffirm that just as human rights are universal, so is our collective respect for them and our commitment to them,�-? he said.
2008-04-07 00:00:00.000

==================================

KICKING OFF NEW REVIEW REGIMES, HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL NEARS END OF SESSION
UN NEWS at un.org, New York, Mar 28 2008 6:00PM

Having initiated the first periodic review of the human rights performance of all States and established rapporteurs on groundbreaking new rights topics, the seventh session of the United Nations Human Rights Council finished the bulk of its work today in Geneva.

The session, which was opened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 3 March, did not conclude formally today as expected, but instead decided to continue for one more half-day session to be held next week, to finish hearing statements from delegations and to adopt its report to the General Assembly.

Among the major accomplishments of the session was the inauguration of the first Universal Periodic Review, under which all UN Member States will be examined to assess whether they have fulfilled their human rights obligation, at the rate of 48 a year.

In addition, 11 special rapporteurs were nominated, including an independent expert with a new mandate to cover rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Among other achievements, the 47-member Council elected the 18 members of its Advisory Committee, which will hold its first session from 4 to 15 August.

The Committee�-?s experts will function as a think-tank for the Council, which was created in 2006 to replace the Human Rights Commission as part of ongoing UN reform.

At the Council�-?s eighth session, which will take place from 2 to 13 June, the Council will examine the first report of its working group on the Universal Periodic Review, which will start its work on individual countries on 7 April.

Speaking to reporters today, Council President Doru Costea said he was �-�rather optimistic�-? about the start of the Universal Review. However, he cautioned: �-�The proof of the pudding is in eating it.�-?
2008-03-28 00:00:00.000
==================================

UN RIGHTS BODY SAYS STATES MUST REFRAIN FROM PROFILING WHILE COMBATING TERRORISM
UN NEWS @un.org, New York, Mar 27 2008 6:00PM
The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva today passed a resolution calling on States to not resort to racial, ethnic or religious profiling while countering terrorism.

Adopted without a vote, the text urges States to fully comply with their obligations regarding torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

It also �-�opposes any form of deprivation of liberty that amounts to placing a detained person outside of the protection of the law.�-?

Additionally, the 47-member body adopted five other resolutions.

It extended the mandates by three years of its Independent Experts on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights; on human rights and solidarity; and on minority issues.

The Council also adopted texts pertaining to the staff composition of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as well as on the enhancement of global cooperation in the field of human rights.

The body will wrap up its seventh session, which began on 3 March, tomorrow.
2008-03-27 00:00:00.000
==================================

WORLD HAS COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TO ELIMINATE RACISM, BAN KI-MOON SAYS
UN NEWS @ un.org, New York, Mar 21 2008 4:00PM

Racism still hurts too many individuals and communities around the world, Secretary-Ban Ki-moon said today, calling on all countries and civil society groups to play their part in the fight to stamp out both racism and racial discrimination.

In a message to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is celebrated today, Mr. Ban said next year’s formal review of actions taken since the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance adopted its Declaration and Programme of Action offered an opportunity to make important progress.

“Racial discrimination is a concern to all peoples and countries,” he said. “This review process is an opportunity to engage in an inclusive and transparent manner on an issue that demands our urgent and close attention.

“I call on all countries and civil society to make constructive use of the time between now and the formal review process to work out their differences so that we can seize this opening to boost our collective efforts to stamp out racism. This issue is too important; we cannot fail.”

The Secretary-General noted that the General Assembly proclaimed 21 March as the International Day to honour the memory of the scores of peaceful protesters who were massacred on this day in 1960 in the South African township of Sharpeville as they demonstrated against the racist apartheid-era ‘pass laws.’

“There has been significant progress since then, not least through the dismantling of the apartheid system. But racism continues to plague too many individuals, communities and societies the world over.”
2008-03-21 00:00:00.000
==================================

ALL STATES SHOULD SIGN GLOBAL PACT AGAINST RACIAL DISCRIMINATION �-? UN RIGHTS CHIEF
UN NEWS @ un.org, New York, Mar 18 2008 5:00PM

The United Nations human rights chief issued a call today for all the world�-?s States to both sign on to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and to strengthen their law enforcement so that victims of such discrimination can receive greater justice.

So far, 173 out of 192 UN Member States have ratified the convention, which came into force in 1969 and was the first human rights treaty to be adopted by the General Assembly. But many countries that have ratified have also included formal reservations.

Speaking before a high-level panel in Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said it was time for all the States that are yet to do so to become party to the convention and for other States to withdraw their reservations and to accept the complaints jurisdiction of the treaty�-?s supervisory committee.

�-�Racism lies at the roots of many conflicts,�-? she said to the panel, convened just ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is observed on 21 March. �-�It poses risks to international peace and security. Racism is the springboard for extremism and all types of intolerance.�-?

Ms. Arbour noted that the world has made substantial progress in fighting racism since the General Assembly inaugurated the International Day in 1966, six years after the notorious Sharpeville massacre in South Africa.

However, �-�48 years after the Sharpeville shootings, no country can claim to be free of racism�-?s destructive influence.�-?

The High Commissioner also called on all parties to engage constructively in the follow-up process to the 2001 World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban, South Africa.

The theme of this year�-?s International Day is the key role that dignity and justice play in combating racial discrimination, and Ms. Arbour said this �-�reminds us that equality under the law and equal protection of the law are central pillars of the fight against racial discrimination.�-?
2008-03-18 00:00:00.000
==================================

BAN KI-MOON PAYS TRIBUTE TO HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF, FOLLOWING EXIT ANNOUNCEMENT
UN NEWS @ un.org, New York, Mar 7 2008 3:00PM

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed �-�great regret�-? at the decision of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour to step down at the end of her first four-year term, which she confirmed today in Geneva.

�-�I have been most impressed by her extraordinary courage, energy and integrity in speaking out forcefully on human rights, which is among the UN�-?s most important mandates,�-? Mr. Ban said, following the announcement Ms. Arbour made at the Human Rights Council �-? the UN body inaugurated under her tenure, which ends in June.

Mr. Ban said that she never hesitated to incur the criticism of States or other parties by highlighting the victims of abuses or pointing out the inadequacies of national legal systems, and she consistently represented the highest ideals of the Organization.

�-�Her legacy will be one of a strengthened and more wide-ranging United Nations human rights system, a stronger focus on justice and accountability, reformed protection mechanisms, and a more balanced approach to the full range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights,�-? he said.

Ms. Arbour, a Canadian Supreme Court Justice and ex-prosecutor of UN war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, assumed the post of High Commissioner in 2004, after her predecessor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was killed in a terrorist attack in Baghdad.

Along with announcing her departure, Ms. Arbour today presented her final annual report to the Council, highlighting the distressing human rights implications of renewed conflict in West Darfur and Sri Lanka.

In regard to the Council itself, she said the report stressed the need to support the participation of the least-developed countries in the first-ever Universal Periodic Review, which will assess the rights situation in all UN Member States.

She promised to share reflections on her tenure as High Commissioner at the Council�-?s next session in June.
2008-03-07 00:00:00.000
=============================================

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news
ENDS

UN’s Mr Ban calls for all nations to face UN Human Rights Council scrutiny

mytest

HANDBOOKsemifinalcover.jpg
Here are some news updates on the UN and the Human Rights Council. Put the magnifying glass on Japan, too. Given its past excuses re racial discrimination (and the fact that it’s only submitted one human rights report since it effected the UNCERD twelve years ago–it should have submitted one every two years, or by now its sixth report), the GOJ has been unbecomingly and grossly negligent. We still have no law against racial discrimination. And nothing really even in the pipeline. That should be known about. By anyone who seriously thinks that Japan should get its wish to become a UN Security Council member. Just say no until the GOJ shapes up. Debito

=========================
From: UNNews@un.org
Subject: BAN KI-MOON CALLS FOR EQUAL SCRUTINY OF ALL COUNTRIES BY UN HUMAN RIGHTS ORGAN
Date: March 5, 2008 12:00:52 AM JST

BAN KI-MOON CALLS FOR EQUAL SCRUTINY OF ALL COUNTRIES BY UN HUMAN RIGHTS ORGAN
New York, Mar 4 2008 10:00AM UN News

Opening the seventh session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on its members to ensure that all nations are held equally accountable for the protection of rights as the new body begins its first-ever universal review of their performance.

“No country, however powerful, should escape scrutiny of its record, commitments and actions on human rights,” Mr. Ban said, hailing the start of the Universal Periodic Review, under which all UN Member States – at the rate of 48 a year – will be reviewed to assess whether they have fulfilled their human rights obligations.

“The Review must reaffirm that just as human rights are universal, so is our collective respect for them and our commitment to them. It must help prevent the distrust that surrounded the work of the Commission on Human Rights in its final years,” he added, recalling the accusations of bias and politicization that dogged the predecessor body whose work was taken over by the new Council in 2006.

Looking back at progress since the issuance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will celebrate its sixtieth anniversary in December, Mr. Ban said that it had become clear that commitments and accountability are crucial factors in the effort to make those rights a reality for all.

That accountability, in turn, depends on the collective scrutiny of international organizations, governments and civil society, he said, calling it “a duty of the highest order for each individual State, and the raison d’être of the Human Rights Council.”

As for the record of the Council itself, Mr. Ban said that the establishment of its mechanisms and procedures had been on the right track over the nearly two years of its existence.

But he posed the question to Council members of whether they were fully meeting the high expectations of the international community, which included the application of human rights values “without favour, without selectivity, without being impacted by any political machinations around the world.”

“If you meet this benchmark,” he said, “you can count on my fullest support and defence in the face of criticisms and attacks, wherever they may come from.”

The Council’s seventh session, including a high-level portion for the views of government representatives, as well as expert panels and presentations by Special Rapporteurs, will run through 28 March.
2008-03-03 00:00:00.000
ENDS

==========================
BAN KI-MOON PAYS TRIBUTE TO HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF, FOLLOWING EXIT ANNOUNCEMENT
New York, Mar 7 2008 3:00PM UN News

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed “great regret” at the decision of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights < " http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/HighCommissioner.aspx">Louise Arbour to step down at the end of her first four-year term, which she confirmed today in Geneva.

“I have been most impressed by her extraordinary courage, energy and integrity in speaking out forcefully on human rights, which is among the UN’s most important mandates,” Mr. Ban said, following the announcement Ms. Arbour made at the Human Rights Council – the UN body inaugurated under her tenure, which ends in June.

Mr. Ban said that she never hesitated to incur the criticism of States or other parties by highlighting the victims of abuses or pointing out the inadequacies of national legal systems, and she consistently represented the highest ideals of the Organization.

“Her legacy will be one of a strengthened and more wide-ranging United Nations human rights system, a stronger focus on justice and accountability, reformed protection mechanisms, and a more balanced approach to the full range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights,” he said.

Ms. Arbour, a Canadian Supreme Court Justice and ex-prosecutor of UN war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, assumed the post of High Commissioner in 2004, after her predecessor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, was killed in a terrorist attack in Baghdad.

Along with announcing her departure, Ms. Arbour today presented her final annual report to the Council, highlighting the distressing human rights implications of renewed conflict in West Darfur and Sri Lanka.

In regard to the Council itself, she said the report stressed the need to support the participation of the least-developed countries in the first-ever Universal Periodic Review, which will assess the rights situation in all UN Member States.

She promised to share reflections on her tenure as High Commissioner at the Council’s next session in June.
2008-03-07 00:00:00.000
ENDS
________________

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

Patricia Aliperti & Catherine Makino on NJ Sexual Slavery/Human Trafficking in Japan

mytest

Hi Blog. Here is a situation covered only infrequently by the media and by the likes of Debito.org (mainly because there is so little public information out there, and it’s a topic I’m not at liberty to research myself)–how sex trafficking, particularly that involving non-Japanese, is a flourishing business. And how Japan is one of the world’s major trading posts for it.

I’ve dealt with issues of slavery before (to this day, it exists in just about every country on the planet), but Japan’s has always had a wink-wink attitude towards the water trades–even by Prime Ministers regarding Japan’s historical connections–and especially when it comes to its particularly nasty variant involving foreigners. NJ “entertainers” (there was even an official visa category for it) are in a much weaker position linguistically (language barrier), economically (in more desperate straits) and legally (NJ have visas, meaning bosses can use denial of visa status as a further means for forcing compliance). This means it took gaiatsu (i.e. an unfavorable report from the US State Department) before the GOJ actually did anything meaningful about it.

Older article from Catherine Makino follows. And if you hope or think the situation has improved, check out this incredible Powerpoint presentation by Ms. Patricia Aliperti, Rotary World Peace Fellow at the International Christian University in Tokyo, which she gave me after a speech I attended at the Peace as a Global Language Conference in Kyoto last October 27:

http://www.debito.org/HumanTraffickingShortPresentation.ppt

Breathtaking in its breadth and depth, it will open your eyes to the issue. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Japan Installs Caution Signal for Sex Traffic
Run Date: 07/18/05
By Catherine Makino WeNews correspondent
http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/2378/context/archive
Courtesy of Aly Rustom

Japan has revised its criminal law to stipulate human trafficking as a crime and punish those involved. Activists, however, remain alarmed by foreign-staffed sex parlors that have made the country a haven for traffickers.

TOKYO (WOMENSENEWS)–There are about 10,000 parlors in Japan that offer sex to patrons.

Many advertise that they have foreign women by using such names as Filipina Pub, Russian Bar or Thai Delight. The patrons pay $60 to $100 for drinks and then an additional $150 to $300 to take women out of the bar to have sex with them.

Most of these women come to Japan on falsified passports or with entertainer or short-term visas, says Hidenori Sakanaka, who until a year ago was the director of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau. They are told that they have to pay off fake debts and their passports often are taken away upon arrival in Japan. The women are beaten and controlled by threats to family members in their home countries.

“Most women are moved from place to place and are too scared to complain,” Sakanaka says.

Sakanaka, who now directs the Japan Aid Association for North Korean Returnees, is credited with pushing through revisions to the law to combat trafficking while in his former post. Passed by the National Diet last month, it has helped abate international concerns about a country that has long been criticized for a too-tolerant an approach to trafficking.

On Saturday, the National Police Agency said police had uncovered 29 cases of human trafficking of foreign women from January to the end of June, up by five from the same period last year.

Despite these and other promising moves by Japan–brought about in part by the activism of Japanese women’s groups–international and local advocates continue to worry about the country’s problem with human trafficking, the world’s third-largest underworld business after trade in drugs and arms, netting $9.5 billion annually.

In a recent report the Japan Network against Trafficking in Persons said that the government’s heightened anti-trafficking efforts had so far not “made a dent.”

Fact-Finding Mission Last Week

Last week, Sigma Huda, the special rapporteur on trafficking for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, came here on an unofficial fact-finding mission with activists, lawyers, lawmakers, academics and others concerned about human trafficking. The visit followed widespread reports–including by Amnesty International Japan–of South Asian women from developing nations being trafficked in this highly developed country.

“It’s the dark side of globalization,” says Huda, who is based in Bangladesh.

Reports indicate that about 130,000 women come to Japan on entertainer visas every year, but only about 10 percent of them actually perform in legitimate shows at hotels and other venues. Many obtain entertainment visas through agents who recruit them to Japan with promises of jobs that don’t exist.

Sakanaka traces the problem to immigration officials who bend to politicians and businessmen who hire foreign women for illicit purposes. “Some men even said I was out of my mind to try to do something about human trafficking,” he says. “They claimed it was part of Japanese culture to have sex with foreign women. They were addicted to the parlors. I received phone calls from politicians and anonymous threats on my life.”

Japan Kept Off Worst-Trafficker List

Earlier this month, the U.S. State department removed Japan from a special watch list of countries that were to be included on an updated listed as the worst condoners of human trafficking after the Japanese government compiled an action program to combat human traffickers. The State Department had put Japan on that list a year ago.

Under the new Japanese legislation, those who “purchase” people in order to control their activities will face punishment of up to five years in prison. The maximum punishment could be increased to seven years imprisonment if the victim is a minor.

The new legislation will also grant victims, on a case-by-case basis, special residency status even if they have overstayed their original visa, so that they can be rehabilitated.

Before these revisions, police dealt with trafficking by arresting the victims as illegal aliens, jailing them and deporting them as soon as they had enough money to fly home. Traffickers received a fine or a short jail sentence.

One of the most notorious traffickers, Koichi Hagiwara, known as Sony for his habit of videotaping his victims while he humiliated and tortured them, was sentenced in March 2003 and served less than two years in prison for violating labor laws.

Japanese Women Enraged

Japanese women have also pressured the government to do something about human trafficking.

“Many women were enraged by an article in the Asahi Shimbun, a major daily newspaper in Japan, about the practice,” says Sakanaka, the former director of the Immigration Bureau, referring to an investigative article published Oct. 18, 2003. “Until this article came out, Japanese women knew little about the situation. Women’s groups mobilized, and called up magazines and newspapers to protest the treatment of the women victims.”

The government, Sakanaka says, has neglected to investigate many of the abuse cases. These women, he says, live horrific, lonely lives, forced into having unprotected sex and perform other risky acts with dozens of customers a day. “These new laws are valuable. But they also need to strike at the center of organized crime.”

Sakanaka is concerned that most foreign women will be too scared to go to the police because they think they will be killed if they try to escape.

Chieko Tatsumi, an official in the International Organized Crime Division of Japan’s Foreign Ministry, disagrees. She believes the victims would seek protection from the police.

“There has already been an increase in the number of women asking for protection,” Tatsumi says. “In 2002, there were only two Thais who sought help, but in 2004 there were 25.”

She says that the government set a budget of $100,000 in April for helping women who come to a public shelter.

“The government will pay for rehabilitation for the victims of sexual enslavement and tickets for them to return to their home countries,” Tatsumi says. Not enough, says Sono[ko] Kawakami, campaign manager for Victims of Violence of Japan Amnesty International. The government’s measures fail to sufficiently protect victims and the amount of money budgeted to stop trafficking is insufficient, she says.

Her organization wants separate facilities for trafficking victims, rather than housing them with victims of domestic violence. Many victims are so traumatized that they won’t talk to anyone, so they require specialists to handle them, Kawakami says. Since many do not speak Japanese she also wants language translation support for the victims and specialists in human trafficking to assist them.

Although she believes the government can do more, she says the revisions to the criminal law affecting trafficking are a good start.
Keiko Otsu, director of Asian Women’s Shelter in Tokyo, is also pleased with the new laws, but says there are currently only two shelters available for these women.

“The women don’t have any income, assistance or support,” she says. “Some may be pregnant and many have mental and other health problems, including AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases and need expensive medial care.”

Catherine Makino is a freelance writer in Tokyo. She has written for San Francisco Chronicle, the Japan Times, The Asian Wall Street Journal and the China Morning Post.

For more information:

Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons:
http://jnatip.blogspot.com
International Organization for Migration:
http://www.iom.int/
ENDS

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IMADR: Connect Mag on UN Human Rights Council’s first year

mytest

Hi Blog. Here’s a synopsis from Tokyo human rights group IMADR of how the new UN Human Rights Council is doing over its first year of existence. This has been discussed on Debito.org at the following links:

=================
Economist: UN Human Rights Council in trouble (Posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2007)

A LOT of optimism attended the birth of the UN Human Rights Council, created last year by a 170-4 vote of the General Assembly. Whereas the United States kept on the sidelines (and confirmed this month it would stay away), many Western states saw the new body as an improvement on the discredited Human Rights Commission it replaced. But now some of the commission’s critics are fretting that the Geneva-based council may prove only a little better, or perhaps even worse, than its predecessor…
http://www.debito.org/?p=297

Economist: UN Human Rights Council “adrift on human rights” (Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2007)

I’ve been trying to get an opportunity to speak at the UN HRC regarding the Otaru Onsens Case, yet these articles from the Economist keep coming out and offering bad news about the meetings I’ve missed. Would be nice to believe that human rights, from the organization which has established some of the most important conventions and treaties in history, still matter in this day when rules seem grey, and even the most powerful country in the world dismisses long-standing international agreements as “outmoded” and “quaint”…
http://www.debito.org/?p=344

UN.ORG on pushes to make sure HRC holds all countries accountable (Posted on Wednesday, July 25th, 2007)

The UN News has been issuing press releases to make sure the Human Rights Council doesn’t become as emasculated as the former Human Rights Commission–by holding all countries accountable with periodic reviews of their human rights records. Good. Japan in particular is particularly remiss, given its quest for a seat on the UNSC without upholding its treaty obligations…
http://www.debito.org/?p=470

UN News: UNHCR urges HRC to begin reviews of every country’s human rights record (Posted on Saturday, September 15th, 2007)

UN News agency press release reports: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today urged the Human Rights Council to press forward with its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, which allows the human rights records of every country to be scrutinized. Under this new mechanism, over the course of four years, all UN Member States – at the rate of 48 a year – will be reviewed to assess whether they have fulfilled their human rights obligations.
http://www.debito.org/?p=574

=================
Here’s IMADR. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
(click on image to expand in your browser)
imadrconnectsept2007001.jpg

imadrconnectsept2007002.jpg

imadrconnectsept2007003.jpg

imadrconnectsept2007004.jpg
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UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60th Anniversary Dec 10, 2007

mytest

HUMAN RIGHTS ENSHRINED IN UN DECLARATION APPLY UNIVERSALLY, SAYS BAN KI-MOON
Courtesy UN News New York, Dec 10 2007 4:00PM

The freedoms upheld in the historic United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be enjoyed by everyone, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today on the occasion of Human Rights Day.

The Day also kicked off a year-long UN system-wide campaign, with the theme “Dignity and Justice for All of Us,” to raise awareness of the Declaration, which turns 60 on 10 December 2008.

“The Declaration remains as relevant today as it did on the day it was adopted,” Mr. Ban said. “But the fundamental freedoms enshrined in it are still not a reality for everyone. Too often, Governments lack the political will to implement international norms they have willingly accepted.”

He said that this year leading up to the 60th anniversary of the landmark document provides an opportunity to reinvigorate efforts to ensure that the Declaration’s freedoms apply to all.

“It is a chance to ensure that these rights are a living reality – that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere,” the Secretary-General noted. “It is often those who most need their human rights protected, who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists – and that it exists for them.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, in a separate message, paid tribute to those who have given their lives in the pursuit of transforming the ideals of the Declaration – inherent human dignity, justice, non-discrimination, equality, fairness and universality – into reality.

“Today is also the day to reflect upon our individual and collective failures to stand up against violence, racism, xenophobia, torture, repression of unpopular views and injustices of all sorts,” she observed.

Efforts to make sure that every person can rely on just laws for his or her protection must be stepped up in the year leading up to the Declaration’s 60th anniversary, the High Commissioner said.

“In today’s growing divisions between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the vulnerable, the technologically advanced and the illiterate, the aggressors and the victims, the relevance of the Declaration and the universality of enshrined rights need to be loudly reaffirmed,” she declared.

The President of the General Assembly also sounded the alarm about those who are denied the Declaration’s rights, stating that “it is incumbent upon us to champion their cause.”

Srgjan Kerim urged that measures to promote rights should “live up to the spirit embodied by those who had the courage and conviction to leave us with this great legacy.”

Underscoring the rights of girls and women, who continue to be subjected to discrimination and violence, the head of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) stressed that “every human being should be able to live and make decisions free of coercion, discrimination and violence.”

Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid pointed out that although it has been long-recognized that all couples and individuals have a right to decide whether and when to have children, some 200 million women worldwide have no access to modern contraception.

She also noted that while the right to health has similarly long been recognized, a woman dies every minute during pregnancy and childbirth because of lack of maternal health services.

The UN’s independent rights experts marked the Day with a call for the elimination of the twin scourges of discrimination and exclusion.

“Discrimination continues to distort the economic, social and political contours of societies,” the UN special procedures mandate holders – ranging from rapporteurs and experts to working groups – said in a joint statement. “Individuals and communities face discrimination and exclusion on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion, language, sex or sexual orientation amongst many other grounds.”

The group emphasized that if left unchecked, the consequences of discrimination and exclusion “can begin to create fault lines within society between those who have full rights, justice and dignity respected, and those who do not.”

Events commemorating the Day are taking place throughout the world. At UN Headquarters today, panel discussions on human rights will be held, while a special celebration was held at the world body’s Geneva office, where the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council are based.

An essay competition for teenagers is being held on the occasion of the Day in Parwan province, north of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul. Meanwhile, in Paktia province, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) celebrated the Day at an event attended by victims of the country’s three decades of conflict, Government authorities, tribal officials and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has organized a series of activities across the country, including workshops, campaigns and panel discussions in Darfur, as well as marches to promote human rights messages in southern Sudan.

Several events will also be taking place in the lead up to the 60th anniversary of the Declaration. In Rome, illustrations inspired by Human Rights Day by 17 artists from around the world will be exhibited as part of an initiative called “Cartooning for Human Rights.” The artwork will travel around the world next year.

Next September, a conference to celebrate the Declaration will be held in Paris, while a series of five human rights capacity-building trainings will take place in the Asia-Pacific region next year as part of the Diplomacy Training Programme, a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos-Horta.
2007-12-10 00:00:00.000
ends

UN News: UNHCR dismayed by secret death penalty of J convicts

mytest

Hi Blog. This is tangental to Debito.org, as it involves issues of the death penalty, not internationalization and multiculturalization. But it’s yet another example of Japan not following treaties. Do read to the very end, and goggle at a comment from Justice Minister Hatoyama…

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TOP UN HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL DISMAYED BY EXECUTION OF THREE JAPANESE PRISONERS
UN News.org. New York, Dec 7 2007 7:00PM
Courtesy UNNews AT un.org

The top United Nations human rights official today deplored the execution of three prisoners – including one aged over 75 – in Osaka, Japan, and appealed to the East Asian nation to reassess its approach to the death penalty.

The executions reportedly took place suddenly and neither the convicts nor their families were given advance warning.

“This practice is problematic under international law, and I call on Japan to reconsider its approach in this regard,” Louise Arbour, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.

Expressing particularly dismay at the execution of the prisoner over the age of 75, she said that “it is difficult to see what legitimate purpose is served by carrying out such executions of the elderly, and at the very least on humanitarian grounds, I would urge Japan to refrain from such action.”

In contrast to carrying out executions in secret as it has done in the past, Japan publicly released the names of those executed, the High Commissioner noted.

Japan is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which legally obligates States Parties to ensure strict safeguards when applying the death penalty. It is widely accepted that executions cannot be carried out in secret and without warning, as this could be seen as inhuman punishment and treatment under the ICCPR.

Ms. Arbour urged the Japanese Government to implement a moratorium on executions or ban the practice altogether, as a growing number of nations have.
2007-12-07 00:00:00.000
ENDS

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COMMENT: And this is where our Justice Minister, Hatoyama “al-Qaeda” Kunio, was referring to about the higher value put on life in Japan than in the West? I included this in an earlier Newsletter, but it bears repeating:

========================================
Interview with Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama
Shuukan Asahi, October 26, 2007 P.122.
Title: “The Reason I will carry out Executions.”

Partial translation by Michael H. Fox, Director, Japan Death Penalty Information Center
http://www.jdpic.org

Q: There is a big trend to abolish the death penalty worldwide. Why do you want to keep it in Japan?

HATOYAMA: The Japanese place so much importance on the value of life, so it is thought that one should pay with one’s life after taking the life of another. You see, the Western nations are civilizations based on power and war. So, conversely, things are moving against the death penalty. This is an important point to understand. The so called civilizations of power and war are opposite (from us). From incipient stages, their conception of the value of life is weaker than the Japanese. Therefore, they are moving toward abolishment of the death penalty. It is important that this discourse on civilizations be understood.
========================================

Go figure.
The entire article translated with commentary by Michael H. Fox was recently published on Japan Focus. See
http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2609
Debito in Sapporo

J Times: UNHCR’s Guterres bravely spins on Japan’s exclusionary refugee policy

mytest

Hi Blog. The United Nations drops in, and tries to put a brave face on Japan’s inability to accept refugees or asylum seekers like any other developed country. Stressing improvements when there really aren’t any. He’s a diplomat, all right. Debito in Sapporo

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UNHCR chief pitches third-country resettlement
By KAHO SHIMIZU Staff writer
The Japan Times November 29, 2007
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/nn20071129a5.html

Japan is notorious for accepting very few refugees, despite making a significant financial contribution to the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

But the visiting head of the U.N. organization said Tuesday that Japan is making steady progress in improving the situation facing asylum seekers here.

“Japan is not a country with many refugees . . . but the asylum system is moving in the right direction,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told reporters during his three-day visit to Tokyo.

After arriving Monday, Guterres met with government officials, including Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama and Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, and left the country Wednesday morning.

Japan was the UNHCR’s third-largest donor country in 2006, with a $75 million (¥8.1 billion) contribution, after being the second-largest donor for eight years through 2005.

However, the number of people granted refugee status in Japan remains small. In 2006, the government recognized only 34 people as refugees, compared with 23,296 in the U.S. and 6,330 in Britain.

Since assuming the top position at the UNHCR in 2005, Guterres, 58, said he has witnessed some improvements in Japan. These include the introduction of an appeal system to review cases of people whose applications for refugee status have been turned down, and the move by authorities to grant protection for people whose applications have been rejected but are allowed to stay for humanitarian reasons.

Above all, the most encouraging development for Guterres was that Japan has begun discussing the possible introduction of the third-country resettlement program, which means accepting refugees who sought asylum in other countries.

The UNHCR views resettlement in a third country as an important tool of protection and a durable solution for refugees, especially when voluntary repatriation to their home countries and local integration are difficult.

In September, the government set up a working group involving officials of the Justice Ministry, Foreign Ministry and other bodies, and began studying the program.

The U.S., Canada and Australia were among the first countries that began offering third-country resettlement opportunities, but although countries in South America, including Brazil and Argentina, recently introduced such a system, no Asian country has done so.

Guterres said he felt there is political will from the Justice Ministry and the Foreign Ministry to introduce the system because they are making a serious analysis of conditions to bring it about.

“We would very much appreciate that (if Japan becomes) the first Asian country to install the program,” Guterres said. But at the same time, the former Portuguese prime minister said the UNHCR does not want Japan to rush, nor is it necessary for Japan to accept a great number of refugees from the beginning, because the U.N. organization wants a system that really works to help asylum seekers.

People’s awareness about refugees in Japan is relatively low due in part to its geographical location, but Guterres said he was encouraged by growing interest among young people.

The Japan Times: Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007
ENDS

UN Rapporteur Doudou Diene warns “racism is increasingly manifest as violence”

mytest

Hi Blog. Giving a speech in a few hours, so I’ll be brief. Here’s a recent report from Doudou Diene, who has been so assiduous in reporting on Japan’s human rights violations to the UN.. Not about Japan in specific, but still worth a read. Debito in Tokyo.

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From: UNNews@un.org
Subject: UN EXPERT WARNS THAT RACISM IS INCREASINGLY MANIFEST AS VIOLENCE
Date: November 8, 2007 7:00:28 AM JST

UN EXPERT WARNS THAT RACISM IS INCREASINGLY MANIFEST AS VIOLENCE
New York, Nov 7 2007 5:00PM

Racism is increasingly being expressed through violence, and is also being institutionalized by xenophobic political parties in what amounts to a grave threat to human rights, an independent United Nations expert told a General Assembly committee meeting in New York today.

Doudou Diene, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, said a �??resurgence of racist and xenophobic violence, in particular its most serious expression a shift from words to action�?? �?’ can be seen in the growing number of acts of physical violence and murders targeting members of ethnic, cultural or religious communities.

He also spoke of the �??political normalization and democratic legitimization of racism and xenophobia,�?? resulting from the ability of political parties advocating racist and xenophobic platforms to apply these platforms through government alliances.

This tendency, he said, �??represents the gravest threat to democracy and human rights.�??

Mr. Diene was presenting to the Assembly�?Ts Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Third Committee his latest report, which warns of a decline in the political and ethical determination to combat racism and discrimination, calling this �??an alarming feature of a new ideological landscape characterized by discrimination that is more complex in nature owing to the conflation of race, culture and religion.�??

He says a new discourse of legitimization of racism, xenophobia and intolerance is developing. �??It is seen not merely in individual actions, but is becoming a social and collective practice by virtue of its use as a political, intellectual and media tool.�??

The new trend is rooted in the �??old ideology of the hierarchy of cultures, races and civilizations, on which all subjugation of peoples and legitimization of racist culture and mentalities have historically been founded, creating fertile ground for all old and new forms of racism and xenophobia, from anti-Semitism to Islamophobia, and serving to justify incitement to racial or religious hatred.�??

The report recommends that the Assembly draw attention to the �??alarming signs of a retreat in the struggle against racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia as a result of two serious developments: the growing acceptance of racism and xenophobia through the impact of racist and xenophobic platforms on the political programmes of democratic parties and the rise in racist political violence.�??

It also calls for attention to the �??serious nature of the defamation of religions�?? and for the strengthening the role of the UN in interreligious, intercultural and intrareligious dialogues.�??

The Special Rapporteur also recommends that the Assembly underscore �??the urgency and necessity of approaching immigration and asylum issues, which are major sources of the current resurgence of racism and xenophobia, with a view to respecting and protecting immigrants�?T and asylum-seekers�?T human rights, as guaranteed by the relevant international instruments, and not solely on the basis of such considerations as security and defence of national identity.�??
2007-11-07 ENDS

Nick Wood on NJ Fingerprinting policy as breach of international treaty

mytest

Hi Blog. Nick Wood reports:

===============================

Legal challenge to the fingerprinting and photographing of foreign residents of Japan on their re-enter to the country

The fingerprinting and photographing of (permanent and non-permanent) foreign residents on their re-entry to Japan (with the implementation of the revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act) constitutes a discriminatory action in breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Relevant International Law

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) establishes the principle that “[e]veryone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”(1) The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) similarly establishes that “[e]veryone shall be free to leave any country, including his own,”(2) and that “[n]o one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.”(3)

The right to return extends to those who have obtained citizenship in a third state, since the definition of “own country” in these provisions of the ICCPR is not limited to “country of nationality.” According to the U.N. Human Rights Committee, it applies as well to “an individual who, because of his or her special ties to or claims in relation to a given country, cannot be considered to be a mere alien.” (See ICCPR General Comment No. 27, para. 20 (U.N. DOC. CCPR/ C/21/Rev.1/Add.9, 2/11/199): “The scope of ‘his own country’ is broader than the concept ‘country of his nationality.’ It is not limited to nationality in a formal sense, that is, nationality acquired at birth or by conferral; it embraces, at the very least, an individual who, because of his or her special ties to or claims in relation to a given country, cannot be considered to be a mere alien.”)

Present Practice

The present practice (to be terminated on 20 November 2007) of allowing foreign residents with re-entry visas to enter Japan through the same passport control as Japanese citizens is de facto recognition of their right of return and to be accorded the same treatment as those carrying Japanese passports.

The issuance of a re-entry visa by the Ministry of Justice provides a foreign resident with a legitimate basis to consider Japan as “his own country”.

Argument

Predicated on the provisions of UDHR and ICCPR, foreign residents have a justifiable claim to a “special tie” to Japan and cannot be considered “mere aliens”. They therefore have a right to return. Moreover, this right to re-enter Japan has been equated through custom and practice with that of Japanese citizens whose right to return is based on nationality. Thus, to treat foreign residents differently from Japanese nationals (that is, by insisting on the collection of biometric data before admission to Japan is allowed, and to thereby hinder the exercise of their right to return) is a discriminatory action in breach of UDHR and ICCPR.

In order to comply with relevant international law, Japan should either a) collect biometric data from both foreign residents and Japanese nationals as they re-enter the country, or b) terminate the discriminatory treatment of foreign residents.

Nick Wood, University Teachers Union

Notes
1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13(2).
2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 1(2).
3. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 12(4).

Based on: Human Rights Watch Publications
IV. Freedom of Movement in International Law
http://hrw.org/reports/2005/cuba1005/4.htm#_ftn199
ENDS

UN News: UNHCR urges HRC to begin reviews of every country’s human rights record

mytest

Go for it, UN. About time. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

TOP UN OFFICIAL URGES HUMAN RIGHTS BODY TO BEGIN COUNTRY REVIEWS
New York, Sep 14 2007 12:00PM

Courtesy UNNews@un.org

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today urged the Human Rights Council to press forward with its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, which allows the human rights records of every country to be scrutinized.

“We are acutely aware that the credibility of the United Nations human rights system hinges upon satisfactory implementation of the review, since the UPR has the potential to greatly influence and address human rights situations on the ground,” she told the Council which is currently meeting in its sixth session in Geneva.

Under this new mechanism, over the course of four years, all UN Member States – at the rate of 48 a year – will be reviewed to assess whether they have fulfilled their human rights obligations.

“Through the UPR all UN Member States will now be reviewed in the same comprehensive manner on the basis of universal and equal parameters and standards,” she said. “At the same time, countries under review will be fully involved in what is envisaged as a participatory and inclusive review process.”

In her address to the 47-member body, the High Commissioner also highlighted problems faced by countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Iran and Myanmar.

On the DRC, Ms. Arbour voiced concern over the lack of progress in the vast Central Africa nation which is seeking to rebuild after a brutal six year civil war that killed 4 million in fighting, attendant hunger and disease.

The High Commissioner pointed out that no perpetrators who committed serious crimes committed in the first half of this year have been arrested and brought to justice. “Interference by military and political authorities in the administration of justice is prevalent, particularly in high-profile cases,” she noted. “Recent trials raise serious questions about the independence of the judiciary.”

While visiting Teheran, Iran’s capital, earlier this month, Ms. Arbour met with senior Government officials as well as with local women’s rights defenders on how to improve respect for human rights. She expressed to them her particular concerns regarding the death penalty being applied to juveniles and the need to defend the right to peaceful public expression, she told the Council, which began its session on 10 September.

Ms. Arbour also said that she has been following the suppression of peaceful protests in Myanmar with mounting concern. “I urge the authorities to release detainees and political prisoners and ensure respect for fundamental rights,” she told the Council, whose three-week session wraps up on 28 September.

In a related development, UN independent experts today jointly called on Myanmar to immediately release over 150 people brutally arrested last month after protesting the surge in fuel prices.

“It is shocking that peaceful demonstrators have received life sentences in trials without any basic guarantee of the due process of law and that local journalists were prevented from reporting on these measures,” three Special Rapporteurs said in a joint statement.

Noting the “important and courageous role” that women, student leaders and monks played in the protests, the experts said that the “Myanmar authorities should be proud of its vibrant civil society and engage without hesitations in a constructive and transparent dialogue with all parties so as to lay down a roadmap for a healthy and empowered democratic society, for the benefit of the country and the region at large.

They also warned that Myanmar can push forward with political transition unless “ordinary people have the space to express their views and discontent, peacefully and in public.”

The three experts who issued today’s statement are Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar; Ambeyi Ligabo, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and Leandro Despouy, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.
2007-09-13 00:00:00.000
ENDS

UN passes resolution on indigenous peoples (hello Ainu, Ryukyuans)

mytest

Hi Blog. Sorry for not talking about the PM Abe resignation (truth is, I don’t know what to say. Yet. Nor does anyone, really). Instead, topics germane to the focus of Debito.org:

Just received this from the United Nations. This may become a historical event, especially given the indigenous peoples in Japan (Ainu, Ryukyuans) and their lack of official recognition (in 1997, the Ainu received tentative recognition for their aboriginal status from the GOJ, not that it meant they got any money or special favors for it). FYI. Debito

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UNITED NATIONS ADOPTS DECLARATION ON RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
New York, Sep 13 2007 3:00PM

Courtesy of UNNews@un.org

The General Assembly today adopted a landmark declaration outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them – a move that followed more than two decades of debate.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been approved after 143 Member States voted in favour, 11 abstained and four – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – voted against the text.

A non-binding text, the Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.

The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.

It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.

General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour have all welcomed today’s adoption.

Sheikha Haya said “the importance of this document for indigenous peoples and, more broadly, for the human rights agenda, cannot be underestimated. By adopting the Declaration, we are also taking another major step forward towards the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.”

But she warned that “even with this progress, indigenous peoples still face marginalization, extreme poverty and other human rights violations. They are often dragged into conflicts and land disputes that threaten their way of life and very survival; and, suffer from a lack of access to health care and education.”

In a statement released by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban described the Declaration’s adoption as “a historic moment when UN Member States and indigenous peoples have reconciled with their painful histories and are resolved to move forward together on the path of human rights, justice and development for all.”

He called on governments and civil society to ensure that the Declaration’s vision becomes a reality by working to integrate indigenous rights into their policies and programmes.

Ms. Arbour noted that the Declaration has been “a long time coming. But the hard work and perseverance of indigenous peoples and their friends and supporters in the international community has finally borne fruit in the most comprehensive statement to date of indigenous peoples’ rights.”

The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues estimates there are more than 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries worldwide.

Members of the Forum said earlier this year that the Declaration creates no new rights and does not place indigenous peoples in a special category.
2007-09-13 ENDS

TPR editorial on SNAFU at MOFA: Uyoku disrupt human rights meeting

mytest

Hi Blog. An editorial I wrote quickly for Trans Pacific Radio was put up two days ago. Have a read. Excerpt follows. Debito in Sapporo

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TRANS PACIFIC RADIO SHASETSU

Arudou Debito: Rumble at the Ministry of [Foreign Affairs]

Filed under: Shasetsu – Op/Ed

Posted by Debito Arudou at 3:44 pm on Monday, September 10, 2007

Courtesy http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/09/10/debito-rumble-at-moj/

(Editor’s note: Debito wrote this piece, and even recorded it, quite some time ago. Unfortunately, for reasons we can’t quite fathom, the audio file has. . . well. . . apparently disappeared. This is the text of his Shasetsu, a bit late. We apologize for the tardiness of the publication, for the missing audio, and for dropping the ball on this one in general. Nevertheless, it’s a well-done piece, well worth reading and discussing and we hope you enjoy it.

The second part of Arudou Debito’s appearance on TPR Spotlight (part one is here) will be up before you can say “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.”)

===========================

RUMBLE AT THE MINISTRY OF [FOREIGN AFFAIRS]

A hearing on human rights is disrupted by right-wingers

In 1995, Japan signed the United Nations Convention against all forms of Racial Discrimination. By doing so, it promised “without delay” to take all measures, including legislation, to eliminate racial discrimination within its borders. However, more than a decade later, Japan still has not passed any laws against discrimination by race. And as the spread of “Japanese Only” signs and rules nationwide attests, laws are sorely needed.

So is the urge to come clean. Under this treaty, the Japanese government must submit a report every two years on what it is doing to eliminate racial discrimination. It is mighty late, filing its first report, due in 1998, in 2001. And it has filed no reports since then.

In preparation for the next report, and to avoid charges that the bureaucrats were not listening to the public, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has held open hearings, attended over the years by NGOs and “concerned citizens”. The latest meeting took place yesterday afternoon, August 31, and I attended. It was, in a word, a disaster…

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Rest at http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/09/10/debito-rumble-at-moj/

ENDS

Transcript of disrupted MOFA Aug 31 07 hearing blogged

mytest

Hello Blogosphere. Arudou Debito here.

TRANSCRIPT OF MOFA MEETING PROCEEDINGS BLOGGED
AND FURTHER EVIDENCE THE GOJ HAS NO INTEREST IN LIMITING HATE SPEECH
BY ALLOWING A CONVICTED AGENT PROVOCATEUR INTO THE MEETING

Regarding a post I put out recently
http://www.debito.org/?p=544
on the August 31 Ministry of Foreign Affairs meeting, regarding Japan’s next report to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (http://www.debito.org/cerd.html), I have some new information.

I have received a transcript of the meeting, which was disrupted by Right-Wingers, and blogged it in Japanese at
http://www.debito.org/?p=545

I received a call moments ago from someone else who attended the meeting, about one of the participants:

A Mr Nishimura Shuuhei, who sat in the back of the room that day, was taken to court for his behavior of disrupting public meetings on the Comfort Women issue. According to my source, he was sentenced for “illegal obstruction of official duties” (iryou gyoumu bougai–a charge I don’t completely understand myself) on October 4, 2001, at the Yokohama District Court, to 1 year and 6 months of prison, suspended for five years.

Despite his criminal record of disrupting public meetings and acting as agent provocateur, the MOFA allowed Nishimura to attend this meeting, and help disrupt it.

This issue was taken before the Bureau of Human Rights this morning, but my source indicates that they do not intend to do much about it (agreed, see my experience with the BOHR at http://www.debito.org/policeapology.html –they even have a history of advising the Otaru City Government in the Otaru Onsens Case that “there will be no penalty” if they neglect to pass any laws against racial discrimination: http://www.debito.org/jinkenyougobu112999.jpg)

The GOJ shows little willpower indeed to deal with issues of hate speech, or even show resolve to keep their meetings calm and debate reasoned.

================================

On a different note, please read the Japan Times Community Page tomorrow (Wednesday in the provinces). Another article coming out, this time as co-author. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

ENDS

外務省:人種差別撤廃条約政府報告に関する意見交換会07年8月31日:議会記録(抜粋)

mytest

Sorry, I had to remove the MOFA Aug 31 Meeting transcript for the time being at the author’s request. I’m afraid there won’t be an authorized version later either, because the writer meant for it to be a reference document for my use only. If you want to know more, contact me at debito@debito.org. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Archives: Report Aug 1, 2006 on Diene, MOFA mtg, and Kouno Taro

mytest

Hi Blog. Somehow this never got archived last year, but it’s an important report. And since I’ve got a follow-up article to blog here after this, let me add this to the blog out of turn and refer to it in my current report. Arudou Debito in Tokyo.

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From: Arudou Debito
Subject: [debito.org] Taro Kono and MOFA Tokyo mtgs update, Aug 1, 2006

Hello All. Arudou Debito here emailing you from near Todai in Tokyo. Two more mailings to send you before summer break. The first is an update on some things that happened during my current Tokyo trip. As follows:

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1) DIETMEMBER KOUNO TARO PRESS CONFERENCE JULY 31
2) FOREIGN MINISTRY FORUM ON UN CERD AND DIENE REPORT JULY 28

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Preliminary report dated August 1, 2006. Freely forwardable.

DIETMEMBER KOUNO TARO PRESS CONFERENCE
AT THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS’ CLUB, YURAKUCHO, TOKYO

Monday, July 31, 2006, 12PM-1:30PM

Attending as a guest of a FCCJ member, I listened to Lower House Dietmember, Senior Vice Justice Minister, and Prime Ministerial hopeful KOUNO Tarou give his thoughts at a luncheon on the future of Japan.

Kouno, 43, comes from a family of politicians. His father, current Dietmember Kouno Youhei, is a former cabinetmember and long-respected political powerhouse himself. A graduate of Georgetown University in the US and former employee of Fuji Xerox, Tarou is bilingual in English and gave his speech in that language. Now in his fourth term, Tarou was the first to announce his candidacy for the Prime Minister’s job back in May because, he said in the press conference, he was disturbed by the next-likely Prime Minister, Abe Shinzou, stating that the latter had stated the current pension system was financially sound despite the clear demographics of a shrinking Japanese population. His website can be found at http://www.taro.org.

His ideas have made some media waves (particularly his proposed 3% cap on the foreign population), and I have critiqued his proposed immigration policy plan in one of my Japan Times columns (July 11, 2006, see http://www.debito.org/japantimes071106.html).

He opened with his platform on energy, education, taxation, and pension policies, which I will skip for the purposes of this newsletter. When he opened the floor for questions, his answers were fortunately very indicative.

When asked about where he had gotten the “3% foreign population cap” (when if the population is projected to drop to 100 million by 2050, this means that the foreign population can only increase by another million–from the current population of 2 million–by then). He said that the 3% “is a cap but is not a cap”, stressing the need for the population to increase gradually. “When it reaches 3%, then we can talk about it again. The foreign population will increase, just not to the levels of 5% or 7% like we see in Europe in one step. It’s too early for Japan.”

He was especially critical of the “lying” he sees behind Japan’s immigration policy. “The front door is closed, yet the back door is open–for Nikkei workers and foreign trainees.” He called the early-1990’s policy to import Nikkei workers, ostensibly because they are “Japanese” by blood but in reality because they were simply cheap labor, “the biggest mistake”.

He favors a work environment where women and senior citizens can work to a more elderly age, but since even that will not make up the shortfall, there must be a national policy regarding immigration. The local governments should not have to suffer financially for hosting an unassimilated community of minorities which have grown big enough to become a self-sufficient language subculture. Rather, the national government should take it upon itself to take steps to assimilate these people in ways he outlined in my Japan Times article linked above.

However, if the national government is to try harder to assimilate immigrants, then the potential immigrant has to do the same. He stressed that there must be quantifiable language ability before arrival and improvement afterwards. “Give them three to five years to learn the language”, with tutelage and evaluation in ways not elaborated upon. As the situation for foreign residents stands right now, he called it “very sad”, as Nikkeis came over and found things different than they expected.

When asked whether or not he would favor the establishment of a racial discrimination law (no, it wasn’t me asking–I’m not a working journalist and thus not allowed to raise any questions), Kouno Tarou said that he was not: “Even if there is a law, the attitudes of society will not change.” He cited an example which is not even covered by international treaty (as it is an interaction between individuals): “If a foreigner asks for a date and is refused, is that racial discrimination?” He concluded with the importance of culture and nature before codifying change.

There were other points raised and questions asked, but for our readership these are the bullet points. I went up to him after the luncheon ended, gave him a copy of my book JAPANESE ONLY in Japanese (http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html), and said this might help him understand why we need a racial discrimination law.

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2) FOREIGN MINISTRY FORUM ON UN CERD AND DIENE REPORT JULY 28

Last Friday, I attended an 2-hour “iken koukan kai” (the second in what will hopefully be a series) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo. Around eighty people and dozens of human-rights groups (we don’t know precisely who-the MOFA wouldn’t release the guest list) attended, to discuss how the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD, http://www.debito.org/cerd.html) should be implemented.

More specifically, our meeting would discuss Japan’s follow-up to the UN Reports of 2001 (see http://www.debito.org/japanvsun.html), now many years overdue, and to the Diene Reports of 2005 and 2006 where racism in Japan was reported as “deep and profound” and “practiced undisturbed” (see http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html). Several ministries, namely the Ministry of Justice, the National Police Agency, the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, the Transportation Ministry [due to public works interfering with Ainu lands], and the Education Ministry, were in attendance. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted.

We had a pre-meeting at 1PM with our network of 30 NGOs and 5 concerned individuals (including volunteers, lawyers, businesspeople, students, and group representatives). Convocating and organizing was the group International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR, see http://www.imadr.org ), fronted by the very capable and young Mr Morihara (a person I see as a probable historical figure), who was largely behind UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s visits to Japan these past two years. Although the contents of this meeting are not something I can release to the public at this time, be it known that there was some trepidation expressed at the possibility of opponents attending to deliberately throw sand in the negotiations…

At 3PM the meeting started. The bureaucrats attending were almost all juniors in their twenties and thirties, except the chair of the meeting who was of kachou class (as usual, so nobody could speak on behalf of their ministries). After some preliminary remarks on the good works each ministry is doing in the name of human rights, we went person by person, row by row, with attendees making their stump speeches of being done wrong and how the government is in fact not helping out. We were told to limit our comments to one minute, though nobody did (it was impossible anyway), then the bureaucrats would respond after each row was finished. Six rows and three and a half hours later, we were done. Highlights:

I made a speech on how each ministry has ignored or overlooked human rights: Justice Ministry not even mentioning the possibility of an anti-racial discrimination law, Police targeting foreigners through campaigns and even DNA racial profiling (http://www.debito.org/NPAracialprofiling.html), Education Ministry talking about educating people about foreigners and foreign cultures instead of telling people how foreigners are residents too, and how the judiciary is not protecting us (Steve McGowan, losing plaintiff in the Osaka Eyeglass Exclusion Case, http://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html, was in attendance, and sat next to me as I made the speech).

Others talked about problems with housing, health insurance, juuminhyou residency certificates, and the fact that the Diene Reports are were generally going ignored or justified out of existence. (Foreign Minister Aso Tarou spoke of the Diene report, in Gaikou Bouei Iinkai Meeting of May 18, 2006, to say essentially “that Diene’s visit was done as an individual, therefore the report is not binding as a UN report” (kankoku wa kojin no shikaku ni yoru no de, kokuren no kouteki kenkkai de wa naku houteki kousoku ryoku wa nai), and how Japan’s government would simply argue against it (nihon seifu to shite hanron bunsho o teishutsu suru). In the same month, leaders within the Foreign Ministry dismissed historical claims made by the Ainu, Zainichi Koreans, etc. as no longer modern (gendai teki keitai) enough to matter anymore to the discussion.

The right wing did indeed attend, with three old fogies (who mumbled their last names and refused to disclose their affiliations) waffling on about how it was all very well to talk about minority rights, but what of the majority of Japanese being “exploited” (sakushu) and Japan’s mythology (jinwa) no longer being taught in schools? After all, they said, what good is learning about foreigners if Japanese don’t learn about themselves properly? That was quickly shot down by one of our party who said, “Mythology and the CERD are unrelated, so can we move on?” We did.

At the end we did our standard practice of going up to shake hands with the bureaucrats, thank them for coming, and exit for a postmortem at a follow-up meeting. That meeting’s particulars are not something I can make public again, except to say that we established a specific network to deal with this situation. Not entitled “Coexistence with Foreigners” or some other such othering guff. It was a group (official title TBD) to fight against *racial discrimination*–because race, not nationality, is the issue here, and enough people now recognize it as such. This, above all, is the big victory of this trip.

////////////////////////////////////////////

Enough for now. More good news to follow in a few days. Thanks for reading.

Arudou Debito
Nezu, Tokyo
debito@debito.org
www.debito.org
August 1, 2006
EMAIL ENDS

UN.ORG on pushes to make sure HRC holds all countries accountable

mytest

Hi Blog. The UN News has been issuing press releases to make sure the Human Rights Council doesn’t become as emasculated as the former Human Rights Commission–by holding all countries accountable with periodic reviews of their human rights records.

Good. Japan in particular is particularly remiss, given its quest for a seat on the UNSC without upholding its treaty obligations, particularly regarding Japan’s refusal to pass a law against racial discrimination, and file reports in a timely manner (last report was due the HRC all the way in 2002!). The UN is quite well aware of this, and has been highly critical of Japan’s unfettered racism in recent years. UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene has been well recorded on the Debito.org Blog as well. Debito in Sapporo

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From: UNNews@un.org
Subject: SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES AGREEMENT ON DETAILS OF UN HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW
Date: June 21, 2007 7:00:24 AM JST
To: news5@secint00.un.org
Reply-To: UNNews@un.org

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES AGREEMENT ON DETAILS OF UN HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW
New York, Jun 20 2007 6:00PM

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the Human Rights Council’s agreement setting out how its universal periodic review mechanism will work, saying it “sends a clear message” that the rights record of every country faces serious and meaningful examination.

“No country – big or small – will be immune from scrutiny,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement, adding that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other civil society groups need to play an active role in the review to ensure the process works.

“The periodic review holds great promise for opening a new chapter in human rights promotion and underscores the universality of human rights.”

Council members agreed yesterday on the modalities for universal periodic review after several days of marathon discussions. Each year 48 nations, comprising a mixture of Council members and observer States, will be reviewed to assess whether they have fulfilled their human rights obligations.

The modalities were decided as part of a package of new measures and decisions that includes the continuation of the work of Special Rapporteurs and other independent human rights experts.

But in today’s statement, Mr. Ban voiced disappointment at the Council decision to single out Israel as the only specific regional item on its agenda, “given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.”

The 47-member Council also agreed to end the mandate of the Special Rapporteurs on the situations in Belarus and Cuba, while retaining the other 39 mandates under the so-called “special procedures” system.

Mr. Ban noted “that not having a Special Rapporteur assigned to a particular country does not absolve that country from its obligations under the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and every other human rights treaty.”

The statement from his spokesperson added that the Secretary-General “trusts that members of the Council will take seriously their responsibilities and continue to seek out ways to improve the Council’s work in the months and years ahead.” He also noted that Council members “worked hard to reach consensus on a number of issues.”

Meeting today in Geneva, the Council also adopted resolutions on the situation in Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territory and Darfur.
2007-06-20 00:00:00.000

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From: UNNews@un.org
Subject: UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL URGED TO KEEP SYSTEM OF INDEPENDENT EXPERTS
Date: June 12, 2007 6:00:23 AM JST
To: news5@secint00.un.org
Reply-To: UNNews@un.org

UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL URGED TO KEEP SYSTEM OF INDEPENDENT EXPERTS
New York, Jun 11 2007 5:00PM

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today urged the Human Rights Council to maintain its system of independent experts and others who shine a spotlight on troubling situations around the world.

Louise Arbour told the Council, meeting in Geneva for the start of its fifth session, that the special procedures system – or the mechanisms, from rapporteurs and experts to working groups, which the Council can use to explore either specific country situations or thematic issues – “represents a critical component in the protection and promotion of human rights.”

She also underscored the importance of the system known as “universal periodic review,” which allows the Council to scrutinize the human rights records of all countries in a regular, rotating manner, predicting it “will develop into a leading instrument” for upholding human rights.

“Reaching an agreement on its framework was not an easy task, but the Council is set to achieve that goal,” she said, urging members to “bring your institution-building efforts to completion.”

The General Assembly resolution that set up the Council last year to replace the discredited Commission on Human Rights agreed that the universal periodic review mechanism must be created by June this year and the special procedures system – kept on from the Commission – must undergo a review during the same period.

Over the course of its current session, Council members will hear from a number of its special rapporteurs and independent experts on country-specific situations and thematic issues, including Belarus, Cambodia, Somalia, adequate housing, judicial independence and the right to food. In addition, the Council’s Expert Group on Darfur is expected to present its report.
2007-06-11 00:00:00.000