Statement on the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released its concluding observations on March 16, 2010, following consideration of the third to sixth periodic reports submitted by the Japanese government in August 2008 concerning the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ("the Convention").
In their concluding observations, the Committee expressed their concerns over 35 individual items and made recommendations on how to best remedy them. The items included the facts that:
- Japan has yet to establish an anti-discrimination law,
- Japan has thus far failed to establish a national human rights institution,
- Japan has not yet made the optional declaration provided for in the Convention establishing an individual complaints mechanism,
- Human rights education has not been provided at a sufficient level to civil servants, law enforcement officers, etc.,
- Foreign nationals are prohibited from becoming Conciliation Commissioners of family courts in Japan, and
- The unfair treatment of schools for foreign nationals remains a problem.
The Japanese government is maintaining its reservations to Articles 4 (a) and (b) of the Convention and claiming that it is not necessary to establish an anti-discrimination law. However, there is, in Japan, the continued incidence of racist epithets and attacks via the Internet and propaganda activities aimed against the students attending North Korean schools and Burakumin. The Japanese government should consider using the force of the law to regulate such expressions and acts.
The establishment of a national human rights institution is a pressing issue. The JFBA urges the immediate establishment of a national human rights institution with independent authority for investigation and independent financial and human resources in line with the Paris Principles adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1983.
Regarding human rights education for civil servants and law enforcement officials, the UN Human Rights Committee has already expressed concerns and made such recommendations twice. Despite this, however, politicians and civil servants are continually making statements admitting the existence of racial discrimination and it is necessary to immediately provide human rights education for them in order to raise their awareness of human rights issues.
The JFBA also urges the Japanese government to immediately make an optional declaration to bring about the establishment of an individual complaints mechanism, which would be indispensable in the practical utilization of international human rights laws to provide redress for individual victims of human rights abuses.
Regarding conciliation commissioners, it is the JFBA’s position that since the authority to make any public decisions does not reside in the said commissioners, the Supreme Court should immediately correct its practice in which foreign nationals are not appointed as conciliation commissioners.
There should be an immediate elimination of discrimination in education among the schools for foreign nationals, including issues such as differential treatment in the area of tax breaks and eligibility for university admission in addition to the exclusion of North Korean schools from the facilities to be covered by the act to waive tuition for students at public high schools and to provide subsidies to private high school students.
In addition to the above mentioned issues, the Committee pointed out the discrimination against other particular groups such as the Burakumin, the Ainu people, and the Okinawa people.
The Japanese government should sincerely accept the concerns and recommendations expressed by the Committee and take corrective actions.
The JFBA will also strive to resolve the issues for which the Committee expressed its concerns and recommendations.
April 6, 2010
Japan Federation of Bar Associations