Statement on the Enactment of the Basic Act on the Child and the Act for Establishment of the Children and Families Agency
The “Basic Act on the Child” and the “Act for Establishment of the Children and Families Agency” were enacted by the 208th ordinary session of the Diet on June 22nd this year.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (the “JFBA”) published the “Proposed Basic Act on the Rights of the Child” (the “Proposed Act”) in the document entitled “Proposal Calling to Enact a Basic Act on the Rights of the Child” (the “Proposal”), dated September 17, 2021, aiming for the realization of ideals enshrined in the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (the “U.N. Convention”) in Japan. The JFBA also published the “Statement on New Promotion System for Measures Concerning Children,” dated May 9, 2022, once again calling for the establishment of a children's rights advocacy committee.
The Basic Act on the Child aims to protect the rights of the child in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution of Japan and the U.N. Convention (see Article 1); has provisions corresponding to the four general principles of the U.N. Convention (see Article 3); and expressly sets forth the inclusion of the opinions of children, etc. in policies concerning children. See Article 11. In addition, the Act for Establishment of the Children and Families Agency will launch a new government agency for the comprehensive and coherent implementation of policies concerning children. These points are in line with the ideas in the Proposal from the JFBA and of great significance in advancing the guarantee of the rights of children in Japan. It is commendable that the State Minister in charge defined a “child-centered society” as a society which always puts the best interest of children first and places measures and policies concerning children at the center of the country. She also clearly stated that the government aims to realize a society that recognizes children as having rights and supports the healthy growth of children without leaving any child behind.
A concrete mechanism will need to be established in coming years based on these newly enacted laws to properly reflect children’s voices and ensure in a substantial manner that children are recognized in a substantial manner as having rights in all aspects related to children, such as education, child welfare, juvenile justice, etc. Also, in order to properly reflect the spirit of the U.N. Convention in the measures, it is our expectation that the “General Comments” provided by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child as the guidelines for the implementation of the Convention and the committee's “Concluding Observations” on the report on the status of implementation of the Convention in Japan are correctly understood and respected by relevant organizations, and that the national and local governments, child advocacy NGOs, and NPOs, etc. will work together to implement measures based on the actual living situation of each child.
However, some important issues concerning the guarantee of the rights of children are left unaddressed; among other things in the Proposal, the rights of the child included in the enacted act are not as detailed as proposed in Chapter I of the Proposed Act, and the inclusion of the advocacy committee on the rights of the child, also referred to as Children's Commissioner, as proposed in Chapter V of the Proposed Act was deferred. In addition, there are quite a few matters that need to be realized in coming years for the concrete and effective implementation of measures to realize the rights of the child, such as the sufficient budget allocation as proposed in Article X of the Proposed Act, the introduction of education on the rights of the child in school curriculums as proposed in Article XI, paragraph (2) of the Proposed Act, respecting the recommendations made by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child as proposed in Article XII of the Proposed Act, establishing a concrete mechanism that guarantees the expression of opinions and participation by children in all aspects and reflecting the opinions of children in master plans, etc. as proposed in Articles VII and XIV, paragraph (2) of the Proposed Act, carrying out research and studies on measures concerning children as proposed in Article XVI, paragraph (3) of the Proposed Act, etc.
The JFBA will continue to conduct reviews and outreach to further enhance the legal system for the guarantee of the rights of the child in response to the enactment of these laws and is determined to continue to work with children with integrity to realize the rights of all children under the Basic Act on the Child.
June 29, 2022
President of Japan Federation of Bar Associations