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Hi Blog. Two posts ago I talked about the UN’s most recent report on Japan’s human rights record (and how there seems to have been almost no progress made). Well, also interesting is the public record of the give-and-take between UN officials and Japan’s mission to the UN. That’s below. It offers a glimpse of the mindsets of Japan’s representatives, and how they will defend Japan’s status quo no matter what. The parts that are germane to Debito.org are bolded up, so have a read. This is probably a glimpse as to what courses the GOJ will (not) take regarding human rights issues in future.
BTW, If you want to see how much has not changed (these UN reviews happen every two years), get a load of what happened last time Japan faced the music in the UN regarding its human rights record, back in 2010. The GOJ even claimed Japan was taking “every conceivable measure” to eliminate racial discrimination back in 2008 (yeah, except for an actual law against racial discrimination, unrequited since 1996!). Debito.org’s archives and analysis go back even farther, so click here. And when everyone by now realizes that Japan’s human-rights efforts are a joke (seriously, back in 2013), the Japanese representative will angrily shout to the audience, “Why are you laughing? SHUT UP! SHUT UP!” This is not a joke. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers report of Japan
UN OHCHR 21 August 2014, courtesy of LK
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today completed its consideration of the combined seventh to ninth periodic report of Japan on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Presenting the report, Akira Kono, Ambassador to the United Nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Japan was actively working on measures to establish a comprehensive policy to ensure the respect of the human rights of the Ainu people, focusing on the Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony. Refugee recognition procedures had been reformed, and Japan strictly practiced the principle of non-refoulement. A nationwide campaign called “Respect the rights of foreign nationals” sought to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against foreigners. In 2020 Japan would host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and in the spirit of the Olympic Charter’s anti-discrimination principles, Japan continued to work to eliminate all forms of discrimination.
During the discussion, issues raised by Committee Experts included the prevalence of racist hate speech in Japan and the lack of anti-discrimination legislation, the situation of Ainu indigenous people and recognition of the people of Okinawa, and remedies for the victims of sexual slavery during World War II (so-called ‘comfort women’). The exploitation of foreign technical interns, the withdrawal of funding for Korean schools in Japan and reports of systematic surveillance of Muslims in Japan were other issues raised.
In concluding remarks Anwar Kemal, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the report of Japan, said Japan had a democratic constitution and therefore should be able to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law. It should be able to tackle racist hate speech without impeding upon the right to free speech and should install a national human rights institution without delay. It also needed to improve its protection of the rights of Korean, Chinese and Muslim minority groups in the country.
Mr. Kono, in concluding remarks, said Japan would continue to make tireless efforts to improve the human rights situation without permitting any form of discrimination, including racial or ethnic, and would engage in further cooperation with the international community to that end.
The delegation of Japan included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Comprehensive Ainu Policy Office, Ministry of Justice, Human Rights Bureau, Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, National Police Agency and the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The next public meeting of the Committee will take place at 3 p.m. this afternoon when it will begin its review of the combined tenth and eleventh periodic report of Estonia.
The Committee is reviewing the combined seventh to ninth periodic report of Japan: CERD/C/JPN/7-9.
Presentation of the Report
AKIRA KONO, Ambassador to the United Nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, explained some of the major steps that the Government of Japan had taken towards the implementation of the Convention. Japan was actively working on measures to establish a comprehensive policy to ensure the respect of the human rights of the Ainu people. The focus of the efforts was the Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony, the opening of which was timed to coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The space would be a symbol of Japan’s future as a society that respected harmony with diverse and rich cultures and different ethnic groups, while respecting the dignity of the Ainu people, who were indigenous to Japan, and dealing with the problems faced by Ainu culture.
Refugee recognition procedures were carried out in accordance with Japan’s refugee recognition system which took effect in January 1982, and a refugee examination counsellor system was established to enhance the system’s neutrality and fairness. Japan strictly practiced the principle of non-refoulement. The standard processing period for refugee applications was set at six months, and procedures were expedited by an increase in the number of refugee examination counsellors from 19 to 80. Pamphlets available in 14 languages offered guidance concerning procedures which were available at regional immigration bureaus and on the internet. User-friendly procedures for applications had been adopted, including the use of an interpreter in the desired language of the applicant.
Under its framework for resettlement of refugees Japan had accepted 63 Myanmarese refugees who had been sheltered at a refugee camp in Thailand, aiming to make an international contribution and provide humanitarian assistance. [NB: These refugees refused to come to Japan.] Furthermore, Myanmarese refugees temporarily staying in Malaysia had been made eligible for acceptance, as well as family members of refugees Japan had accepted in the past who were currently in Thailand. The Government strove to support the steady acceptance and local integration of resettled refugees through measures, including guidance on daily life, Japanese language training and employment placement.
The Government emphasized the importance of human rights education and awareness-raising based on the concept of mutual respect for human rights with a correct understanding not only of one’s own human rights but of the rights of others, as well as awareness of the responsibilities that included the exercise of rights. There were awareness-raising activities nationwide, including lectures and distribution of literature under the slogan “Respect the rights of foreign nationals”, to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against that group. The Human Rights Organs of the Ministry of Justice had established Human Rights Counselling Offices for foreign nationals, which offered interpretation in English, Chinese and other languages. The organs could also investigate complaints of rights infringements and take the appropriate measures.
Japan would host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which would be a festive occasion for the whole of Japan, from Hokkaido, where the Ainu people lived, all the way to Okinawa. The Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Charter stipulated that ‘any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on the grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise was incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement’. In light of the spirit of the constitution of Japan and the Olympic Charter, Japan would continue to work tirelessly to improve its human rights situation and not permit any form of discrimination, including on the basis of race or ethnicity.
OSAMU YAMANAKA, Director, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, gave in-depth oral answers to the list of issues submitted by the Committee prior to today’s review. Mr. Yamanaka spoke about anti-discrimination related domestic laws, and confirmed that discrimination on the basis of race was prohibited in Article 14 of the constitution, as well as in relevant laws and regulations including in the fields of employment, education, medical care and transport. The dissemination and expression of racist thought could constitute a crime of defamation and other crimes under the Penal Code in certain cases, while a racially discriminatory act constituted a tort under the Civil Code. The Government was making efforts to implement the Act on the Limitation of Liability for Damages of Specified Telecommunications Service Providers and the Right to Demand Disclosure of Identification Information of the Senders which limited the liability of a provider in cases, for example, where information on the Internet infringed the rights of others.
Mr. Yamanaka briefed the Committee on activities to promote human rights education, such as training programmes for teachers, judges, officials, probation officers and members of the police force, among others. He described efforts to eliminate discrimination against the Burakumin, as well as discrimination in the fields of employment, in the selection of tenants for rental housing and in social education.
Regarding indigenous peoples, Mr. Yamanaka said the Government of Japan only recognized the Ainu people as indigenous, and that people living in Okinawa Prefecture or born in Okinawa were not subject to ‘racial discrimination’ as provided for in the Convention, but would discuss the issue further during the dialogue. Since Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese administration in May 1972 the Government had implemented various measures which had resulted in the gap with the mainland being reduced, especially in the field of social capital development.
Concerning the Ainu indigenous people, Mr. Yamanaka said the Government aimed to promote public understanding through education and awareness-raising, develop the Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony, promote research concerning the Ainu people, promote Ainu culture including the Ainu language, promote the effective use of land and resources, and promote business as well as measures to improve livelihoods.
Turning to people of non-Japanese nationality, such as immigrants, Mr. Yamanaka also highlighted the ‘Respect the rights of foreign nationals’ campaign which aimed to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against foreign nationals. He also neither confirmed that refusing accommodation in a hotel solely on the grounds that the person was of a specific race or ethnicity was nor [sic] permitted under the Inns and Hotels Act. The Government supported efforts to increase the number of hotels and Japanese inns registered under that Act, so foreign tourists could stay with peace of mind.
Government actions to combat trafficking in persons were also described, as was the application procedure for asylum seekers, the treatment of detainees and the objection system regarding immigration procedures and deportation.
Questions by the Country Rapporteur
ANWAR KEMAL, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the Report of Japan, said on a positive note Japan had many of the attributes of a great country with an ancient sophisticated culture. It had not hesitated to share its wealth and technical know-how with developing countries. Since the end of the Second World War, it had established a democratic constitution with a wide range of provisions to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. However, under the Convention State parties were required to enact legislation specifically to combat racial discrimination. Article 14 of the Japanese constitution prohibited racial discrimination but did not cover all five grounds for discrimination listed in the Convention. Comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation was therefore needed.
Turning to other positive measures Mr. Kemal said the State party had made progress in several areas, for example it had consulted members of civil society for the report, albeit to a limited extent. More importantly, it had taken a number of measures to address the problems faced by the Ainu indigenous people and had taken special measures to uplift the standards of living of the people of the Ryukus. It had also provided training and orientation sessions to public officials to sensitize them about the problems faced by minorities in Japan.
The Committee was concerned about the continued incidence of explicit racist statements and actions against groups, including children attending Korean schools, and the harmful and racist expressions and attacks via the Internet, particularly against the Burakumin. Japan would be aware of the Committee’s latest general recommendation on racist hate speech, in which it made it clear that freedom of speech was not absolute and did not permit individuals or organizations licence to demonize vulnerable groups. Human Rights Council members had drawn attention to more than 360 cases of racist demonstrations and speeches in Japan since 2013. What actions was Japan taking to curb hate speech, including from public officials? Was victimization of vulnerable groups against Japanese culture? If so, firm action by the State party could be justified, said Mr. Kemal. In addressing acts of injustice it was sometimes necessary to confront and punish wrong-doers, and Japanese history had many such examples.
In 2010 the Committee requested Japan to ensure equal treatment between Japanese and non-Japanese in the rights of access to places and services intended for use by the general public, such as restaurants, bathhouses and hotels. However, the Human Rights Committee last month in Geneva concluded that Japanese and non-Japanese were not treated equally, and there were many signs displayed in such public facilities stating that access was only for the Japanese. Could the State party please comment?
The exploitation of interns, or apprentices from overseas countries under a Government programme was an issue raised by civil society. They were reportedly not taught any technical skills but were used as cheap manual labour, working long hours and being mistreated. Japan had negative growth ? its population was shrinking. Perhaps it would be better to have a proper immigration programme to get workers into the country, rather than using the ‘intern’ programme which was discriminatory, commented Mr. Kemal.
Outlining other areas of concern, Mr. Kemal said the Committee’s last set of concluding observations to the State party in 2010 referred to discrimination against the Burakumin. However, the State party omitted reference to the Baraku problem in its latest report. Civil society reported that although the living conditions of the Baraku had improved over recent years, thanks to special measures, the gap in the standard of living between Baraku and the majority remained wide, and social discrimination continued to be a troubling problem.
While Japan was maintaining its commitment to establish a national human rights institution compliant with the Paris Principles, progress was painfully slow, in particular since November 2013. All the treaty bodies, including this one, would be highly satisfied the day Japan enacted the appropriate legislation to meet this commitment.
In 2010 the Committee recommended that Japan adopt an approach where the identity of non-Japanese nationals seeking naturalization was respected, and that official application forms and publications dealing with the naturalization process refrain from using language that persuaded applicants to adopt Japanese names for fear of discrimination. The report was silent on that matter.
Mr. Kemal also asked what the State party was doing to address the phenomenon of double discrimination, in particular regarding women and children from vulnerable groups.
Japan had made limited progress towards implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and had also been urged to consider ratifying the International Labour Organization Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples in independent countries. Mr. Kemal noted that UNESCO had recognized the number of Ryukyu languages as well as the Okinawans’ unique ethnicity, culture and traditions. Had Japan been engaging in consultations with Okinawan representatives?
Efforts made by the State party to facilitate education for minority groups were noted with appreciation by the Committee, yet still there was a lack of adequate opportunities for Ainu children or children of other national groups to receive instruction in their language. Similarly, complaints had been made that the State party had stopped funding Korean schools, despite it guaranteeing the right for children of Korean residents in Japan to learn their native language and culture.
Questions by the Experts
Japan tended to get a poor press in human rights battles due to films and stories about the Second World War, commented an Expert, but it was not forgotten that it was one of the most advanced philosophies and had inspired many peoples in Asia in the fight against colonialism. Japan obviously had an advanced infrastructure for the promotion and protection of human rights and had made good progress. Nevertheless, there was a streak of insularity in the Japanese nature and immigrant communities frequently faced discrimination.
Civil society representatives showed the Committee a very disturbing video about racist hate speech targeting Korean residents in Japan, said an Expert. He gathered the Prime Minister of Japan agreed, as per his statement last month that Japan must take measures to combat racist hate speech. To what extent had senior officials condemned the sort of racist hate speech seen in that video?
There was a serious problem of racial discrimination in Japan, said an Expert. Some extreme right organizations and individuals claimed they had Japanese superiority. Some even had deep-rooted colonial concepts, he said. They were xenophobic; they degraded, harassed and provoked foreigners wantonly and sometimes even perpetrated violent acts against them. They used the newspapers, internet, TV and other media to spread their racist hate speech. The extreme right groups held demonstrations, even flying Japanese military flags used during the Second World War in order to revive militarism. They went unpunished by the authorities, and so became increasingly wanton in their practices. Their victims had no access to justice, and the police ignored their complaints.
Some senior politicians, including cabinet ministers, had made racist statements which sought to mislead the people of Japan and distort history. They also spread the so-called ‘theory of China threat’. That was because Japan had no special law against discrimination and no national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles.
The Ainu and seven other languages and dialects were threatened, said an Expert. Happily, measures had been taken to reinvigorate the Ainu language and now many people spoke it, but what had been done for the other languages? The Ainu were recognized as indigenous peoples and had access to their ancestral land, at least on Hokkaido. Could the delegation speak more about their land rights?
What about the repatriation of former Japanese emigrants back to Japan? An Expert asked about a case of Japanese people who moved to Brazil before moving back to Japan, and how they were welcomed and integrated back home.
The issue of sexual slavery, known as ‘comfort women’ dating back to World War II was an ongoing violation. Almost 90 per cent of the women ? who were mostly from minority groups ? had by now passed away, but the Government continued to deny they were sex slaves, rather asserting that they were wartime prostitutes. That caused untold agony for those women; they and their families deserved recognition of their victim status and reparations. The Expert also asked about discrimination against women, particularly women from minority groups, and whether Japan would consider taking affirmative action.
What was the State party’s understanding of race, as scientifically, races did not exist: all humans belonged to the same race, said an Expert. What was covered by Japan’s definition of race and was it only limited to citizens of Japan?
Exactly how many Koreans were resident in Japan, asked an Expert, commenting that the approximate half a million Koreans in Japan appeared to bear the brunt of racial discrimination. What were the reasons for the discriminatory treatment, he asked, was it due to differences in culture or in language? Many non-Japanese people felt they had to change their names into Japanese names in order to avoid discrimination. They were not treated equally to other Japanese, added an Expert, and were not allowed to hold public sector positions.
The ending of the waiver programme for Korean schools and subsidies for school fees was not only a major concern, in depriving many children from adequate education, but a symbol of wider discrimination. Furthermore, the restrictions on uniforms for Korean students, which hampered their self-identity, were another issue.
Response by the Delegation
On education, a delegate said children of foreign nationals could attend public schools in Japan for free, and the Government was making efforts to establish a system which guaranteed opportunities for children of Korean residents in Japan to learn their native language and culture and to promote international understanding among Japanese children. However, most Korean residents who did not wish to attend Japanese schools attended Korean schools established in Japan.
Regarding the withdrawal of tuition support of children attending Korean schools in Japan, a delegate explained that it had become apparent that the Korean schools did not meet the requirements to receive the tuition funding, therefore, the funding had been withdrawn. One reason was that the schools had a close relationship with an organization related to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and as the schools could not prove their independence they no longer benefitted from the Public School Tuition Fee Support Fund. If the schools could demonstrate their independence or when diplomatic relations of Japan and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were restored then the Government would re-evaluate whether the schools could benefit from the Support Fund once again. Korean schools were recognized by prefectural governorates as “miscellaneous schools” as were other international schools, for example British or Chinese, and were not discriminated against.
On hate speech and incitement to racial discrimination, a delegate said any expression of hate ? insult, defamation, intimidation, and obstruction of justice ? was a crime that could be invoked under the Criminal Code of Japan. He referred to the video mentioned by Committee members as well as allegations that the police attended xenophobic demonstrations to protect the demonstrators from anti-racism campaigners. A delegate from the National Police Agency said they provided security at those demonstrations in an impartial way, not to protect the demonstrators but to protect public security in general.
In June this year Prime Minister Abe said hate speech was damaging Japan’s pride within the international community and that the issue should be and would be dealt with squarely. He called upon his party to deal with the issue, reported a delegate. Support was given to victims of hate speech and other human rights violations by the Japan Legal Support Centre which had offices throughout the country. The offices provided support programmes for financially distressed people such as free legal aid or temporary payments to lawyers.
The objective of “technical internships” for foreign nationals was to transfer the skills, techniques and knowledge of Japan to foreign nationals in order to contribute to the human resources development of developing countries. There had been instances of misconduct by the receiving organizations and reports of non-payment of wages and long working hours. Consequently in June 2014 Japan revised its strategy and started a ‘drastic inter-agency review’ of the system. Government agreements with sending nations were also reviewed. The ‘drastic review’ would be completed by the end of 2014, and in 2015 a new surveillance system and operational institution would be implemented.
Japan’s position on the ‘comfort women’ issue was that it did not meet the definition of racial discrimination defined in the Convention, and was not relevant to the Committee. Furthermore, Japan opposed the term ‘sexual slavery’ which it found inappropriate. However, the Government wished to sincerely and honestly respond to the Committee’s concern, said a delegate, and so it would explain measures taken for the ‘comfort women’.
In the past Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering to many countries, particularly Asian women, said a delegate. The Government, squarely facing those historical facts, expressed its deep remorse and heartfelt apology, and feelings of sincere mourning for all victims of World War II, both at home and abroad. Prime Minister Abe had said publicly that he was deeply pained to think of the ‘comfort women’ who experienced immeasurable pain and suffering beyond description, as had previous Prime Ministers of Japan. The Prime Minister had also written letters of apology to the women (copies of the letter were shared with the Committee).
Compensation had been dealt with through the San Francisco Peace Treaty, bilateral agreements and other treaties, and legally speaking the settlement had clearly been made. However, recognizing that the ‘comfort women’ issue was a grave affront to the honour and dignity of a large number of women, the Government and people of Japan had established the Asian Women’s Fund in 1995, to extend atonement from the Japanese people to the former ‘comfort women’ in the form of money donated by the people of Japan, for women from the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan, as identified by their Governments. Additionally, the Asian Women’s Fund paid for medical and psychological care, welfare support and even welfare projects such as those in the Netherlands for women who suffered incurable psychological or physical damage during World War II. The Asian Women’s Fund was disbanded in March 2007 but the Government continued to implement follow-up activities.
Regarding reports that foreign nationals were refused access into some hotels, a delegate said the Inns and Hotels Act prohibited the refusal of access to a foreign national solely on the grounds of their race or ethnicity. Additionally, the Development of Hotels for In-Bound Tourists Act served to improve hotel accommodation for tourists. Complaints about discrimination by hotels, and other public facilities such as restaurants, public areas or public transport could be made under the Act on the Optimization and Promotion of Public Facilities.
The Advisory Council for Future Ainu Policy made policy recommendations to the Government in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Japan voted for. Japan believed the exercise of the indigenous Ainu’s rights in accordance with the Declaration should only be restrained when their rights impeded upon the rights and best interests of the wider Japanese public. Ainu representatives accounted for one-third or more of the members of the Advisory Council, the delegate added.
Regarding Ainu indigenous people who did not live on the island of Hokkaido, a delegate referred to a 2008 resolution adopted unanimously by the Parliament which demanded recognition of the Ainu people as indigenous. The declaration found that the Ainu people had lived mostly in the north of Japan’s archipelago, particularly on the island of Hokkaido, and had their own unique language of culture. Ainu people living in other areas were surveyed to learn about their living conditions, he added.
The Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony would open in 2020, to coincide with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Space would feature museums, traditional Ainu houses and handcraft studios where people could learn about the Ainu people’s world view, especially of the natural world. The space would serve as the National Centre for the Restoration of Ainu Culture. Efforts to promote Ainu language and culture across Japan were described by a delegate who also said although it was not envisaged to use Ainu in the classrooms of all schools, in many schools attended by Ainu students children did have the opportunity to study the language and culture of Ainu.
The value of the people of Okinawa was recognized and their rights were guaranteed. Their valuable culture and traditions were promoted and preserved within the law. Following the reversion of Okinawa to Japan in May 1937 the Okinawa Promotion Plan and related Act were adopted to guide measures to develop Okinawa’s social infrastructure. As a result, the gap between Okinawa and the mainland was narrowing and steady improvement was being seen.
The Government recognized trafficking in persons as a serious human rights infringement and treated it as such. In 2004 it launched the Action Plan of Measures to Combat Trafficking in Persons, and since then the number of victims had decreased annually to around 20 to 30 per year. Compensation was paid, with coordination from the International Organization of Migration, to support victims.
A delegate said it was a nationally accepted principle that public officials with national power to make public decisions had to have Japanese nationality. That was not unreasonable. There were many jobs in the civil service where persons without Japanese nationality were employed, such as laboratories and research institutions. Furthermore, other professions, such as nursing, were open to non-Japanese nationals.
Regarding refugees and asylum seekers, a delegate said they should not be sent back to their original countries if they faced any risk to their person on their return. The delegate spoke about the refugee application process, and said even if an applicant for refugee status did not receive it, they could still apply for residency in Japan even without humanitarian consideration. Although in some cases they would be deported, Japan did not return people to certain countries, as per the Refugee Convention and the Convention on Enforced Disappearances.
Concerning social welfare for foreign nationals, a delegate said Japan’s social welfare system had undergone several changes, including deletion of the requirement that foreign nationals in Japan had to meet the same requirements as Japanese nationals, for example to benefit from the national pension system. Today foreign nationals were covered by the pension scheme. The Revised National Pension Act of 2012 further reduced the qualifying period from 25 to 10 years, starting in October 2015. Reports that individuals undergoing naturalization were encouraged to adopt Japanese names and characters were not true, said a delegate.
If a foreign national spouse was divorced from their Japanese spouse then he or she lost their status as a Japanese resident. However, that did not mean the person was automatically deprived of their residency status. They had to apply to the Government with details of their background, life in Japan and reasons for the divorce ? or death of their spouse. If the person had a child who needed to stay in Japan then the person would usually be given long-term resident status to stay in Japan. According to nationality law a child who had a Japanese father or mother at the time of birth would obtain Japanese nationality by birth, a delegate confirmed.
Human rights education was provided at developmentally appropriate levels in schools. Authorities, based upon the guidelines, sought to particularly support youth who had difficulties, as well as widows. Mother and Child Family support funds helped vulnerable families with subsidised childcare. The Basic Plan for Gender Equality adopted in 2010 further had provisions to support women suffering from discrimination. A delegate also spoke about the establishment of Human Rights Counselling Offices under the Legal Affairs Bureau, which investigated cases of suspected human rights infringements and provided remedies. The Bureau also ran telephone hotlines for women and children to report violations.
Japan was seriously considering lifting its reservation to Article 14 of the Convention, which related to individual communications. There were international treaties yet to be ratified by Japan, including International Labour Organization Conventions 111 and 169, on Migrant Workers Rights and on Domestic Workers, as well as the Convention on Stateless Persons, the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, and the Convention on Genocide. The Government recognized the ideals of those Conventions but had to carefully consider their consistency with Japanese law and the legislative efforts that would be required to accede to them.
Follow-Up Questions from the Experts
An Expert said a delegate had asserted that the Committee could raise questions about historical cases, even if they happened 100 years ago, if relevant to the Convention. The Expert believed the issues of ‘comfort women’ and land taken from indigenous peoples were relevant.
Was it correct that the Japanese Government did not recognize the existence of indigenous people on its island of Okinawa? What was being done to terminate or moderate the surveillance of Muslims, an Expert asked. An Expert said the Committee reserved its right to use the ‘sexual slavery’ terminology rather than ‘comfort women’, which was also used by the High Commissioner and the Human Rights Committee.
Response by the Delegation
A delegate responded to questions about alleged systematic monitoring of Muslims in Japan. He said if this was true, they were monitored not because of their religion but was simply as a matter of public security. A delegate from the National Police Agency added that details of information gathering activities to prevent future terrorism could not be disclosed, but noted that the police collected information according to the law.
Japan had its own view on Okinawa, said a delegate. Japan had many islands in its archipelago on many of which traditions with unique traits had been developed, as on Okinawa. Everybody in Japan had the right to enjoy their own culture, practice their own religion and speak their own language ? nobody was denied those rights. The Japanese recognized their rich culture and traditions and had a Plan of Action for the Promotion of Okinawa.
Statistically, in 2013 there were 3,349 people of Brazilian nationality entering Japan, and by the end of the year 181,268 of people with Brazilian nationality were living in Japan.
ANWAR KEMAL, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the Report of Japan, said Japan was making progress in the implementation of the Convention. Japan had a democratic constitution and therefore should be able to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law which would plug the gaps in the domestic legislation as recommended by the Committee five years ago. It should be able to tackle racist hate speech without impeding upon the right to free speech. It should install a national human rights institution without delay. And the State party should enact measures to bring the standard of living of the Ainu people, as well as the Ryukyu, up to that of the rest of the population without delay. Japan also needed to improve its protection of the rights of Korean, Chinese and Muslim minority groups in the country. He thanked the delegation for the productive dialogue.
AKIRA KONO, Ambassador to the United Nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, thanked the Committee for the fruitful dialogue, for its comments and interest, and said the reviews were a valuable process that helped the Government improve its implementation of the Convention. Japan would continue to make tireless efforts to improve the human rights situation without permitting any form of discrimination, including racial or ethnic. The Government would engage in further cooperation with the international community to that end.
For use of the information media; not an official record