Our activities relating to Business and Human Rights
- April 23, 2021 The English version of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (2020-2025) has been published.
- April 6, 2021 This webpage has been updated
1 What are Business and Human Rights?
Human rights issues arising from business activities are more well-known than they previously were as they are becoming more and more globalized. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework (hereafter UNGP) was endorsed unanimously by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011. Since that time, UNGP has consisted of three basic principles as outlined below.
The details of UNGP are available here: https://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/000062491.pdf
SDGs and ESG are global engagement frameworks relating to Business and Human Rights.
- Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including SDGs comprising a total of 17 goals and 169 targets, in which UNGP is mentioned explicitly.
- Environment/Social/Governance (ESG)
One of the areas that corporations need to tackle as a part of their ESG responsibility are human rights issues arising from business activities.
2 Activities of JFBA
In October 2020, a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP) was formulated at the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Japan’s National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights.
The JFBA has urged the Japanese government to establish a NAP before it expressed its intention to formulate a NAP in November 2016, so that human rights issues arising from the business activities of both domestic and global companies could be tackled.
As one of the stakeholders, the JFBA has been actively involved in this process, including participating in government organized meetings and publishing statements. In addition, the JFBA has promoted meaningful dialogues and exchanges of opinions among stakeholders. For example, the JFBA regularly holds discussion meetings for stakeholders to exchange views on the NAP, and holds symposia for more stakeholders to learn about the NAP. As a result, the stakeholder members of the Working Group also submitted a request for the NAP to the government.
The NAP calls for the establishment of a mechanism for continual dialogue based on relationships of trust between the ministries and agencies concerned and stakeholders. The JFBA urged the inauguration of this “mechanism” in the President's Statement as soon as possible. Under this “mechanism,” we will continue to actively and effectively promote follow-up, information provision, and confirmation of the situation of promotion through ongoing dialogue between relevant ministries, agencies and stakeholders.
Within the JFBA, the Committee on International Human Rights and the Committee on Legal Practice Issues play a role as the focal point on Business and Human Rights. Meanwhile, the JFBA has been working on strengthening relevant activities, in the declaration adopted at the General Meeting in 2019, Business and Human Rights were mentioned as one of the activities to be enhanced in globalization and internationalization.
History of Establishment of the NAP
Requests by Stakeholder Members
2.1 Publication of statements
・September 15, 2016 Opinion Calling for the Japanese Government to Formulate a National Plan on Business and Human Rights published
・July 20, 2017 Opinion regarding the Priorities to be included in National Plan on Business and Human Rights published
・January 16, 2019 Opinion regarding National Plan on Business and Human Rights following the request for opinion by the Japanese Government published
・March 17, 2020 Opinion regarding the Draft National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights
・December 2, 2020 President's comment regarding the Announcement of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights
2.2 Symposium, seminar and basic lecture
(1) Symposia on the NAP (National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights)
The JFBA regularly holds symposia on the NAP in cooperation with various organizations with the purpose of helping more stakeholders know the NAP formulation process and its challenges and opportunities.
・September 22, 2017
Towards Formulation of National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights
For this conference, Dr. Surya Deva, a member of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights at that time, shared his view on the role of the National Action Plan (NAP) and his expectations for Japan.
Based on the report prepared by attorneys, a panel discussion followed. The panelists were chosen from various backgrounds, namely the public sector, corporations, institutional investors, and civil society organizations.
This conference was co-hosted with the Tokyo Bar Association, the Daiichi Tokyo Bar Association and the Daini Tokyo Bar Association.
This session was co-hosted with the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), the Global Compact Network Japan and Civil Society Platform for Japan’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (BHR-NAP Platform). Reports in Japanese are as follows.
January 23, 2020
The reporting session was co-hosted with Global Compact Network Japan, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), the National Conference of Association of Small Business Entrepreneurs, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Japan Branch, and Civil Society Platform for Japan’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (BHR-NAP Platform), with the support of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren). At the session, in preparation for the publication of the government's draft of the NAP for public comment, stakeholders reported on the content of the discussion at the Working Group and the Advisory Committee for the formulation of the NAP.
November 9, 2020
The reporting session was co-hosted with Global Compact Network Japan, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo), the National Conference of Association of Small Business Entrepreneurs, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Japan Branch, and Civil Society Platform for Japan’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (BHR-NAP Platform), with the support of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren).The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported on the contents of the published NAP and the schedule for its implementation. Stakeholders who participated in the Working Group also explained the evaluation and opinions on the NAP based on the discussions at the Working Group. The UN Information Centre also explained the significance of Business and Human Rights and NAP in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
・December 9, 2020
From the standpoint of the role of consumers and civil society, the experts and corporate stakeholders from Japan and abroad provided presentation and discussed how to utilize the UN Guiding Principles taking this opportunity of the launch of the NAP.
*Recordings of this Symposium can be viewed on IBM video streaming “Nichibenren Channel”. Please note that first presentation was not recorded due to technical trouble. It starts from the beginning of the presentation 2.
(2) Seminars on “Business and Human Rights”
The JFBA holds seminars and other events to disseminate and raise awareness of “Business and Human Rights” among lawyers, companies, and civil society stakeholders.
・January 25, 2018
The Conference was held by having the members of the Committee on International Human Rights and the Committee on Legal Practice Issues in JFBA as presenters. At the Conference, they introduced the recent international trends on the topic of business and human rights. Some of the topics covered were as follows; the participant’s report of United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights, which was held in Geneva, 2017, General Comments adopted by the following treaty bodies; Committee on the Rights of the Child and Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the report on the mechanism of remedy.
・September 5, 2018
ESG Seminar Series II Presentations by and discussion amongst the lawyers from the International Bar Association (IBA) and the former Japanese general counsel “Global Trends of Business & Human Rights and the role of lawyers and in-house counsels in Japan”
In this seminar, a leading member and an advisory group member of the IBA project “Training Program for Lawyers on Business and Human Rights” provided an overview of the IBAʼs practical tools, handbook and training program, as well as their background. It was also reported how external counsels can effectively advise corporate clients.
[For attorneys] E-Learning: “Basics of Business and Human Rights”
This e-learning material was released for attorneys in February, 2019. In the program, the lecturers explain the background of adopting the UN Guiding Principles and the outline of human rights due diligence by referring to specific cases, as well as what to keep in mind when representing corporations, enterprises or victims in cases involving business and human rights issues.
・November 12, 2019
In Part I, the “Sports and Sustainability Sessions,” the panelists discussed what lawyers should do to ensure that the sport events and sport environment are sustainable, and introduced the initiatives launched in Tokyo in connection with the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, centering on UNICEF's Children's Rights in Sport Principles, with a view to protecting children's sports rights. The future prospects were also discussed.
In Part II, the “Responsible Supply Chain Session”, the panelists discussed how to promote responsible corporate activities and supply chains including improvement of the working environment for foreign workers, and dialogue between corporations and society for resolving issues and ensuring remedies, taking into account the Tokyo Olympic Games’ Sustainable Sourcing Code.
(1) Guidelines published by JFBA
・January 7, 2015 “Guidance on Human Rights Due Diligence”
・August 23, 2018 “Guide on ESG-related Risk Management – for Coordinated Efforts and Dialogue among Companies, Investors, and Financial Institutions”
(2) International Guidelines
The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
・The IBA Practical Guide on Business and Human Rights for Business Lawyers
・The IBA Business and Human Rights Guidance for Bar Association
・The Reference Annex to the IBA Practical Guide on Business and Human Rights for Business Lawyers
3 References of related websites
・ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan “Business and Human Rights”
・United Nations Information Centers
“Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework (A/HRC/17/31)”
(2) General Comments adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies
・Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
“General comment No.24 (2017) on State obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the context of business activities”