Statement on the recommendations issued at the Fourth Universal Periodic Review of Japan by the United Nations Human Rights Council
On January 31st, 2023, the Working Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council conducted the Universal Periodic Review of the human rights situation in Japan. The Universal Periodic Review is a system under which all UN member states examine each other's human rights situations in light of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights treaties, etc., and issue recommendations on areas requiring improvement. Japan first underwent the review in 2008, and this was the fourth time Japan has been reviewed.
Prior to the review, the JFBA provided information to each country by submitting a report on the human rights situation in Japan, holding a briefing session for embassies in Japan, and dispatching members to the session for the Permanent Missions in Geneva.
In the current review, 115 countries took the floor, and around 300 recommendations were made to Japan. The main issues covered by recommendations include the abolishment of the death penalty, the establishment of a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principals, the ratification of the Optional Protocols including for the purpose of introducing individual complaints procedures, the enactment of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, gender equality, the rights of minorities such as persons with disabilities, sexual minorities, and immigrants, sexual exploitation of women and children, adequate protection and support for foreign laborers and technical interns, and the issues of treatment of prisoners. It should be noted that these issues are those that many other countries have already addressed but Japan has yet to do so, meaning that Japan is considered to be lagging behind the international human rights standards, especially in these areas. In addition, some countries made recommendations in terms of taking more effective measures against the influence of COVID-19 on vulnerable people, including the poor, halting plans to discharge radioactive water from the nuclear power plant and disclosure of scientific information, the issue of Fukushima evacuees, strengthening the policy of refugee and immigrant protection, and the issue of human rights for detainees in immigration detention facilities.
The results of this review are going to be adopted at the plenary session of the UN Human Rights Council to be held from June to July of this year. The fact that Japan has received recommendations from many countries regarding issues which have been repeatedly pointed out should be taken under serious consideration.
The JFBA calls for the government of Japan to take the recommendations into sincere consideration and to promote actions to improve human rights policies. In particular, if the establishment of a national human rights institution and the introduction of individual complaints procedures, both of which Japan has consistently expressed its view as "support" since the first review in 2008, will be left unimplemented, other UN member states may perceive Japan as disrespecting the UN human rights protection mechanism. In order for Japan to occupy an honorable place in international society, we strongly request that concrete efforts be initiated as soon as possible.
The JFBA will examine the recommendations carefully and continue to exert ourselves for improving human rights situation that have received the recommendations through the dissemination of information on the Universal Periodic Review, dialogue with the Japanese government, and lobbying of the Diet.
February 9, 2023
President of Japan Federation of Bar Associations