GOJ wants seat on the UN Human Rights Council for 2013-2015. Here’s MOFA’s formal pledge of Japan’s commitments to human rights. Note what’s missing.


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Hi Blog. Here we have Japan wanting a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, to help control the agenda and process of review (like any any applicant, especially the venal ones, which is why the HRC was revamped in 2006 after being occupied by some of the world’s most egregious human rights offenders). Applicant Japan promises to treat countries with mutual respect for their history and traditions (read: “I’m okay, you’re okay, so let’s just all get along and not worry about universal standards of human rights — especially as they would be applied to Japan”; there is a long history behind this attitude in the GOJ, see Peek, J. M. 1991. “Japan and the International Bill of Rights.” Journal of Northeast Asian Studies, Fall 1991 10(3): 3-16; and Peek, J. M. 1992, “Japan, The United Nations, and Human Rights.” Asian Survey 32(3): 217-229, read my writeup on Dr. Peek’s findings here).

Note that the GOJ promises to follow the UN’s recommendations for improving domestic human rights (see some of those most recent recommendations here, and decide for yourself how well the GOJ is doing, then read on here to see the plus ca change.  Also note what’s missing in their promises:  Anything about the Hague Convention on Child Abductions (what with all the abductions after divorce), and of course, anything about passing a law or taking any measures against racial discrimination (despite saying in 2008 that Japan was making “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination“)  But that’s tough, you see:  We don’t have any other races in Japan that would fall under the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination’s protection, remember; that standpoint remains fundamentally unchanged closing in on 20 years after signing the CERD.  Here’s the transcript of how the UN review of Japan’s human rights record went back in February 2010, and what the UN subsequently recommended Japan do back in March 2010 regarding the CERD.  Read on to see how they are being studiously ignored in Japan’s pledges below, as usual.  Arudou Debito



Top > Foreign Policy > Human Rights > Japan’s Human Rights Commitments and Pledges (Candidature for HRC membership 2013-2015)

[Courtesy Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dated September 30, 2011, http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/human/pledge1109.html, thanks to PMP]

Japan’s Human Rights Commitments and Pledges
(Candidature for HRC membership 2013-2015)

I. Japan’s basic human rights policies

  1. Upholding the highest standards of human rights enshrined and guaranteed in the Constitution of 1947, Japan has consolidated its democratic political system and has developed policies for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms as universal values.
  2. Japan firmly believes that the promotion and protection of human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community. It is therefore committed to addressing grave violations of human rights. Japan believes that the culture, religion, history and traditions of each country must be taken into account when addressing human rights issues, and will seek to achieve progress through dialogue and cooperation based on an approach which is tailored to meet the specific aspects of the country, region or theme concerned.

II. International commitments and pledges for the promotion and protection of human rights

A. Conclusion and implementation of the international human rights instruments

  1. Japan has concluded the following international human rights instruments and will continue to make utmost efforts to implement its obligations. Japan will duly follow up on the recommendations it has received in order to fulfill its commitments under the treaties and cooperation with the treaty bodies:
    • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1979)
    • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1979)
    • International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1995)
    • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1985)
    • Convention on the Rights of the Child (1994) and its two Optional Protocols (2004 and 2005)
    • Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1999)
    • Geneva Conventions of 1949 (1953) and their First and Second Additional Protocols of 1977 (2004)
    • Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1981) and its Optional Protocol (1982)
    • International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (2009)
  2. In 2007, Japan signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and is now working towards its early conclusion.
  3. Japan is giving serious consideration to the individual communications procedure.
  4. Japan is working toward the early conclusion of the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction with a view to protecting the best interests of children.

B. Activities of the Human Rights Council (HRC)

  1. Japan will continue to be actively engaged in the HRC’s activities, including the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), so as to promote the improvement of the human rights situations in various countries and regions. During its continuous membership since the HRC’s establishment until 2011, Japan has taken an active role in the HRC’s discussions and in the adoption of its resolutions.
  2. Japan has promoted international initiatives to eliminate discrimination and support marginalized groups. For example, Japan submitted an HRC resolution on persons with leprosy which was adopted by consensus in September 2010(A/HRC/RES/15/10).
  3. Japan has taken an active role in the HRC Review. Japan remains committed to improving the work and functioning of the Council so as to maximize its efficiency and effectiveness.
  4. Japan sincerely took note of the outcome of its own UPR session of May 2008, and in March 2011 voluntarily published the follow-up status of the recommendations it accepted.

C. Cooperation with the High Commissioner and Special Procedures

  1. Japan will continue its full cooperation with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, her Office and Special Procedures. Japan has extended an official Standing Invitation to all thematic mandate-holders, in view of their important roles.

D. Contribution to the work of the General Assembly and to the Security Council

  1. Japan will continue to participate actively in discussions on promoting human rights in the UN General Assembly, including through submitting draft resolutions to the Third Committee. Japan will steadily continue to promote the Security Council’s policy agenda for the protection of civilians in armed conflict, inter alia, the protection and empowerment of women and children.

E. Promoting human rights through bilateral cooperation

  1. As stated above, Japan will continue to attach great importance to “dialogue and cooperation” which is based on mutual understanding and respect. Japan has held regular bilateral dialogues and consultations on human rights with the governments of more than 10 countries. Japan will continue to promote democratization as well as protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in line with its human rights policy concerning Official Development Assistance (ODA). In particular, Japan will focus on providing support to vulnerable groups such as children and persons with disabilities and to protect their human rights. In line with its Initiative on Gender and Development (GAD) announced in 2005, Japan continues to ensure that a gender perspective is incorporated into all sections and every stage of ODA process.

F. Financial assistance

  1. In 2009, Japan’s bilateral ODA disbursements reached US$354.45 million for health and welfare, US$1,870.75 million for gender equality and US$95.94 million for peace-building. In FY 2009, disbursements for measures pertaining to persons with disabilities amounted to US$1,687.46 million.
  2. Japan continues to support human rights activities by UN organizations such as OHCHR, UNICEF and UN Women. In FY 2010, Japan contributed approximately US$ 5 million to UN Women. Japan, as the top Asian donor to the OHCHR, will continue to support its activities including by making voluntary contributions.

III. Promoting human rights in Japan

  1. In line with the obligations stipulated in the international human rights instruments to which Japan is a party, all relevant government agencies continue to promote and protect human rights in various fields within Japan. Japan will follow up on the UPR recommendations which it accepted in 2008 and recommendations it has received from human rights treaty bodies. Japan will continue to enhance its dialogue with civil society, including non-governmental organizations and to implement the policies and measures in the following areas in order to enhance the protection of vulnerable groups:

A. Gender equality

  1. In December 2010, the Cabinet adopted the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality, toward the realization of a gender-equal society. It is an effective action plan which consists of 15 priority fields and 82 performance objectives. Japan aims to increase the representation of women in leadership positions to at least 30 percent by 2020 through specific “positive actions”.

B. Combating trafficking in persons

  1. Japan continues to implement domestic measures and pursue international cooperation in this area as well. Japan revised its existing action plan and formulated Japan’s 2009 Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons in December 2009.

C. Rights of the child

  1. Japan will continue to implement the Comprehensive Measures to Eliminate Child Pornography, adopted in 2010. Japan has reviewed the existing measures and introduced new laws such as the revised Child Welfare Law (2008) and the revised Civil Code (2011) and will steadily enhance various measures such as those against child abuse.

D. Indigenous people

  1. Japan will continue to promote comprehensive and effective policy measures for Ainu people, taking their views into consideration through various channels, inter alia, the Council for Ainu Policy Promotion with the participation of Ainu representatives.

September 30, 2011


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4 comments on “GOJ wants seat on the UN Human Rights Council for 2013-2015. Here’s MOFA’s formal pledge of Japan’s commitments to human rights. Note what’s missing.

  • Here are the UN recommendations that pertain to children:

    “14. 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);

    15. Continue the efforts to combat trafficking in persons with a special emphasis on women and children (Canada);

    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);

    17. Prohibit expressly all forms of corporal punishment of children and promote positive and non-violent forms of discipline (Italy);”

    It appears that #16 is to your point.

  • Well, as with the multiple applications for patents to stick on the wall with all of the hoped for Nobel Prizes, and a permanent UNSC seat, now Japan is looking for a sea on the UNHRC. I say it’s time to mount a letter-writing campaign to the current chair and members of this body. Just because Big Mo from Libya is no longer a participant doesn’t mean some pen-pusher from Nagata-cho should just slip in under cover of cherry blossoms.

    Hmmm, let’s see: a letter to Medvedyev as the islands are still an issue which the hounds in Tokyo want to wag. A letter to Cameron because the Hawkers were so shafted. A letter to the Elysee, reminding Sarko and Carla that their new daughter will be fingerprinted like a common criminal when she comes to Japan in a few years. A letter to Hu et al in Beijing, reminding them that Tokyo still wants ‘their’ undersea gas, and a letter to the Obamas reminding them of how the base issues are handled, along with ‘guilty until proven foreign’ stances for US personnel accused of anything. Just for starters.

    Enough ‘enlightenment’ in the halls of power usually works to have the “No!” order trickle down to the UNHRC deciding member representatives.


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