Comment on the Response of the Japanese Government to the UPR at the Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
- During today’s (afternoon of 12 June, Geneva time) regular session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, the Japanese Government (the Government) gave its response to 26 recommendations made by other countries in the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which was issued this May.
- The Government accepted 13 recommendations listed in Annex 2 including the establishment of a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles and the elimination of discrimination against women, including women belonging to minorities.
- In addition, the Government promised to consider ratifying the human rights treaties and optional protocols except for the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Subparagraph 1) and the possibility of permitting international monitors to examine immigration detention centers (Subparagraph 21). The Government also reported that the Diet and the Government recognized that the Ainu people were an indigenous people.
- The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) appreciates and welcomes that the Government accepted half of the 26 recommendations, promised to follow up on their implementation, and will consider ratifying the human rights treaties and optional protocols, especially, the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which will establish the individual complaint procedures and a national human rights institution.
The Government has committed to the realization of each of these recommendations through dialogue and cooperation pursuant to the follow-up procedures of the UN Human Rights Council. The JFBA will actively cooperate with the Government in following-up on the recommendations which the Government accepted and in studying the recommendations which the Government promised to consider.
- On the other hand, within the recommendations which the Government did not accept or promise to consider were nine issues listed in Annex 3, which includes considering whether to monitor the methods of police interrogation, re-examining the use of prolonged police detention under the Daiyo Kangoku system, and responding sincerely to the recommendations of the United Nations mechanisms on the issue of "comfort women".
- The 26 recommendations made by other countries during the meeting of the Working Group on UPR encouraged the Government to address human rights issues which have yet to be resolved, though treaty-based bodies have repeatedly made recommendations. These recommendations have included the suspension of executions and the abolition of the Daiyo Kangoku system, which were also requested by the JFBA in its written information submitted to the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights. The JFBA had been eagerly anticipating that the Government would accept all 26 recommendations. However, the Government did not accept the above mentioned important recommendations, which is truly regrettable.
- Especially, many countries expressed their concerns over the continuous implementation of the death penalty in Japan during the meeting of the Working Group on UPR and recommended that the Government suspend executions. They showed the common view of the international community which coincides with the position of the JFBA. The JFBA expects that the Government will sincerely listen to the recommendation of the international community to suspend executions and will review its current policy to continue and increase executions.
Furthermore, the Government’s response to the issues of the Daiyo Kangoku system and the monitoring of interrogations is questionable from the viewpoint of guaranteeing international human rights. Prolonged police detention for a maximum of 23 days is without parallel in the world and the audio/video recording of the entire interrogation process is currently an international common practice. Therefore, it was expected that the Government would consider reforming the Japanese system toward the abolition of the Daiyo Kangoku and the monitoring of all interrogations. However, the Government refused to accept those recommendations and such a stance will receive international criticism.
- We understand that it would be difficult to immediately accept some of the 26 recommendations. However, all countries subject to the UPR should make every effort to establish a process of dialog and cooperation for implementing recommendations which are difficult to accept by identifying the causes of such issues, learning from the experiences of other countries which have overcome similar issues, and obtaining technical assistance from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and other bodies.
Therefore, the JFBA again urges the Government to further broadly disclose information on the current situation of all human rights issues raised by this UPR and to take a concrete step towards resolving these issues by widely conducting national discussions as needed.
The UPR is part of the process of a continuing dialogue and the JFBA will continue the dialog opened with the Government through this UPR by using opportunities such as the review of the 5th periodic report of Japan on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to be conducted this autumn in order to steadily improve the human rights situation in Japan.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
June 13, 2008