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Statement on the Government of Japan's Attitude Declaration during the 4th Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

On January 31st, 2023, Japan's human rights situation was reviewed by 192 UN member states at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The UN Human Rights Council adopted the outcome document on July 10th of this year. The number of recommendations made to Japan has been increasing since the first review in 2008, which was 26; for this fourth review, it has reached 300.

Under the UPR procedure, the state under review is expected to express its attitude towards the recommendations as "support" or "note." In a document dated June 8th of this year, the Japanese government provided responses toward each recommendation.

Firstly, the JFBA calls upon the Japanese government to ensure the effective implementation of the recommendations it has expressed support for.

In particular, numerous recommendations concerning establishing national human rights institutions and introducing individual communication procedures have been received since the first review. While the Japanese government has consistently expressed "Support" for these recommendations, more accurately, it has responded by replacing the term "Support" with ambiguous wording, stating that it "accepts to follow up" on them. In reality, the Japanese government has not clarified the specific details of the examination and there is still no visible roadmap toward its realization. The Japanese government continuously pursuing such actions while proclaiming adherence to international human rights law before the international community damages the trust of the governments of the recommending countries and can only be seen as a disregard for the UN human rights system.

Furthermore, the Japanese government has also received numerous recommendations concerning discrimination against women. Regarding the promotion of measures against gender discrimination, the Japanese government has maintained its stance of "accepting to follow up" as before. However, in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2023, Japan ranked 125th out of 146 countries, dropping nine places from the previous year. This is the lowest position Japan has reached since the report's release began in 2006. More robust measures are necessary to overcome such a disgraceful situation.

Secondly, the JFBA calls upon the Japanese government to accept the recommendations they have rejected in the next review.

Specifically, the recommendations calling for the abolition of the death penalty, the introduction of a moratorium on executions, and the elimination of substitute prisons have been met with the Japanese government's continued position of "not accepting" them. Regarding the death penalty issue, the Japanese government relies on public opinion as one of the justifications. However, public opinion surveys can yield different conclusions depending on the methods used, and issues concerning fundamental human rights, such as the right to life, should not be determined by public opinion.

Moreover, concerning the recommendation calling for the enactment of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, the Japanese government has remained in its previous position of "Note." However, considering the existence of various forms of discrimination affecting people within Japan, which the widespread use of the internet has further exacerbated, it is evident that relying solely on increasing awareness and education promoted by current law is insufficient in addressing discrimination.

Finally, recommendations were made regarding immigration and refugee issues, including aligning the policy of deportation with international human rights law and promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees. It is, however, indeed regrettable that the Japanese government has promoted immigration law reform bills that disregard these concerns, and the fact that the National Diet passed the bills on June 9th of this year is a matter of great concern.

As stated above, the JFBA demands that the Japanese government not only follow up on its supported recommendations, but also ensure their reliable implementation. Furthermore, we continue to urge the Japanese government to sincerely consider its acceptance of the recommendations that have not been accepted.

In addition, as state institutions, the parliament and the judiciary also oblige to adhere to treaties faithfully. Therefore, the JFBA urges the parliament to take immediate action if the enactment or amendment of laws is necessary to fulfill the recommendations. In cases where the compatibility of statutes and state acts with the treaty is questioned, the court is requested to make judgments after fully considering the contents of the recommendations.

July 11, 2023
Motoji Kobayashi
President of Japan Federation of Bar Associations

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