<COVID-19>Declaration to Work Diligently on the Legal Issues and Human Rights Issues Associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic
COVID-19, which is raging around the world, has spread across the country since January 2020. On April 7, the Government declared a State of Emergency over seven prefectures in accordance with the Act on Special Measures for Pandemic Influenza and New Infectious Diseases Preparedness and Response, and the geographic scope was broadened later to cover the whole nation. As the declaration was issued, citizens were requested to refrain from leaving home or moving around except for essential tasks while many businesses were urged to shut down voluntarily. Although the State of Emergency declaration was lifted fully on May 25, 2020, citizens and businesses have still been forced to conduct activities under restricted conditions.
Amid such a backdrop, businesses are experiencing significant difficulties continuing their operations, which is resulting in a rise in contractual troubles. The challenging employment circumstances have led to a surge in the number of people struggling to survive while domestic violence and abuse are further worsening within homes. Additionally, discrimination and prejudice are manifesting against people infected with COVID-19 and healthcare workers, and even against their families. Thus the continuing spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused diverse legal issues and human rights issues.
We being lawyers have a mission to protect fundamental human rights and deliver social justice which must be fulfilled more than ever under such circumstances and there is an increasing need for us to address the legal issues and human rights issues in a timely and precise manner. To accomplish this, individual lawyers and law firms need to sustain their operation while the bar associations need to keep the legal counseling centers and other services functioning.
In light of the above, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations is committed to aspiring for the following:
1. Working sincerely to resolve legal issues and protect human rights, and bringing forward effective policy proposals diligently in order to address the multiplicity of legal issues and human rights issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, by utilizing diverse measures to provide legal services including legal counseling and alternative dispute resolution.
2. Striving to enhance various business environments to ensure that individual lawyers and law firms can continue to operate and the bar associations can maintain function of their services such as legal counseling centers, taking into account the shift to the “new normal lifestyle” to prevent further spread of COVID-19. In addition, endeavoring to secure and maintain access to justice for citizens by conferring with courts and other relevant bodies to provide proper and prompt judicial services in concert.
We declare as above.
September 4, 2020
Japan Federation of Bar Associations