2. The Committee expresses
its appreciation for the frank and forthright replies given by the delegation
to the issues raised by the Committee and the clarifications and explanations
given in answer to the oral questions put by the members of the Committee.
The Committee is also appreciative of the presence of the large delegation
representing various branches of the Government, which demonstrates the
seriousness of the State party in meeting its obligations under the Covenant.
The Committee also commends the State party for having given wide publicity
to its report and to the work of the Committee. It welcomes the large
number of lawyers and non-governmental organizations present during the
discussion of the report.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee commends
the Government for the ongoing process of bringing its legislation into
line with the provisions of the Covenant. It welcomes the enactment of
the Law on the Promotion of Measures for Human Rights Protection, as well
as amendments to other laws such as the Equal Employment Opportunities
Law, the Standard Labour Law, the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition
Act, the Penal Code, the Child Welfare Law, the Election Law and the Entertainment
Business Law, and the draft bill aimed at punishing Japanese nationals
involved in child prostitution and child pornography.
4. The Committee notes with
satisfaction the establishment, at Cabinet level, of the Council for the
Promotion of Gender Equality, aimed at investigating and developing policies
for the achievement of a gender-equal society and its adoption of the
Plan for Gender Equality 2000. The Committee also notes the measures being
taken by the human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice to deal with
the elimination of discrimination and prejudice against students at Korean
schools in Japan, children born out of wedlock and children of the Ainu
5. The Committee welcomes
the abolition of restrictions on women's eligibility to take the national
public service examination, the abolition of discriminatory compulsory
retirement, and of dismissals on grounds of marriage, pregnancy or childbirth.
C. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations
6. The Committee regrets that
its recommendations issued after the consideration of the third periodic
report have largely not been implemented.
7. The Committee stresses
that protection of human rights and human rights standards are not determined
by popularity polls. It is concerned by the repeated use of popularity
statistics to justify attitudes of the State party that may violate its
obligations under the Covenant.
8. The Committee reiterates
its concern about the restrictions which can be placed on the rights guaranteed
in the Covenant on the grounds of "public welfare", a concept which is
vague and open-ended and which may permit restrictions exceeding those
permissible under the Covenant. Following upon its previous observations,
the Committee once again strongly recommends to the State party to bring
its internal law into conformity with the Covenant.
9. The Committee is concerned
about the lack of institutional mechanisms available for investigating
violations of human rights and for providing redress to the complainants.
Effective institutional mechanisms are required to ensure that the authorities
do not abuse their power and that they respect the rights of individuals
in practice. The Committee is of the view that the Civil Liberties Commission
is not such a mechanism, since it is supervised by the Ministry of Justice
and its powers are strictly limited to issuing recommendations. The Committee
strongly recommends to the State party to set up an independent mechanism
for investigating complaints of violations of human rights.
10. More particularly, the
Committee is concerned that there is no independent authority to which
complaints of ill-treatment by the police and immigration officials can
be addressed for investigation and redress. The Committee recommends that
such an independent body or authority be set up by the State party without
11. The Committee is concerned
about the vagueness of the concept of "reasonable discrimination", which,
in the absence of objective criteria, is incompatible with article 26
of the Covenant. The Committee finds that the arguments advanced by the
State party in support of this concept are the same as had been advanced
during the consideration of the third periodic report, and which the Committee
found to be unacceptable.
12. The Committee continues
to be concerned about discrimination against children born out of wedlock,
particularly with regard to the issues of nationality, family registers
and inheritance rights. It reaffirms its position that pursuant to article
26 of the Covenant, all children are entitled to equal protection, and
recommends that the State party take the necessary measures to amend its
legislation, including article 900, paragraph 4, of the Civil Code.
13. The Committee is concerned
about instances of discrimination against members of the Japanese-Korean
minority who are not Japanese citizens, including the non-recognition
of Korean schools. The Committee draws the attention of the State party
to General Comment No. 23 (1994) which stresses that protection under
article 27 may not be restricted to citizens.
14. The Committee is concerned
about the discrimination against members of the Ainu indigenous minority
in regard to language and higher education, as well as about non-recognition
of their land rights.
15. With regard to the Dowa
problem, the Committee acknowledges the acceptance by the State party
of the fact that discrimination persists vis-à-vis members of the Buraku
minority with regard to education, income and the system of effective
remedies. The Committee recommends that the State party take measures
to put an end to such discrimination.
16. The Committee is concerned
that there still remain in the domestic legal order of the State party
discriminatory laws against women, such as the prohibition for women to
remarry within six months following the date of the dissolution or annulment
of their marriage and the different age of marriage for men and women.
The Committee recalls that all legal provisions that discriminate against
women are incompatible with articles 2, 3 and 26 of the Covenant and should
17. The Committee reiterates
the comment made in its concluding observations at the end of the consideration
of Japan's third periodic report that the Alien Registration Law, which
makes it a penal offence for alien permanent residents not to carry certificates
of registration at all times and imposes criminal sanctions, is incompatible
with article 26 of the Covenant. It once again recommends that such discriminatory
laws be abolished.
18. Article 26 of the Immigration
Control and Refugee Recognition Act provides that only those foreigners
who leave the country with a permit to re-enter are allowed to return
to Japan without losing their residents status and that the granting of
such permits is entirely within the discretion of the Minister of Justice.
Under this law, foreigners who are second- or third-generation permanent
residents in Japan and whose life activities are based in Japan may be
deprived of their right to leave and re-enter the country. The Committee
is of the view that this provision is incompatible with article 12, paragraphs
2 and 4, of the Covenant. The Committee reminds the State party that the
words "one's own country" are not synonymous with "country of one's own
nationality". The Committee therefore strongly urges the State party to
remove from the law the necessity to obtain a permit to re-enter prior
to departure, in respect of permanent residents like persons of Korean
origin born in Japan.
19. The Committee is concerned
about allegations of violence and sexual harassment of persons detained
pending immigration procedures, including harsh conditions of detention,
the use of handcuffs and detention in isolation rooms. Persons held in
immigration detention centres may remain there for periods of up to six
months and, in some cases, even up to two years. The Committee recommends
that the State party review the conditions of detention and, if necessary,
take measures to bring the situation into compliance with articles 7 and
9 of the Covenant.
20. The Committee is gravely
concerned that the number of crimes punishable by the death penalty has
not been reduced, as was indicated by the delegation at the consideration
of Japan's third periodic report. The Committee recalls once again that
the terms of the Covenant tend towards the abolition of the death penalty
and that those States which have not already abolished the death penalty
are bound to apply it only for the most serious crimes. The Committee
recommends that Japan take measures towards the abolition of the death
penalty and that, in the meantime, that penalty should be limited to the
most serious crimes, in accordance with article 6, paragraph 2, of the
21. The Committee remains
seriously concerned at the conditions under which persons are held on
death row. In particular, the Committee finds that the undue restrictions
on visits and correspondence and the failure to notify the family and
lawyers of the prisoners on death row of their execution are incompatible
with the Covenant. The Committee recommends that the conditions of detention
on death row be made humane in accordance with articles 7 and 10, paragraph
1, of the Covenant.
22. The Committee is deeply
concerned that the guarantees contained in articles 9, 10 and 14 are not
fully complied with in pre-trial detention in that pre-trial detention
may continue for as long as 23 days under police control and is not promptly
and effectively brought under judicial control; the suspect is not entitled
to bail during the 23-day period; there are no rules regulating the time
and length of interrogation; there is no State-appointed counsel to advise
and assist the suspect in custody; there are serious restrictions on access
to defence counsel under article 39(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure;
and the interrogation does not take place in the presence of the counsel
engaged by the suspect. The Committee strongly recommends that the pre-trial
detention system in Japan should be reformed with immediate effect to
bring it in conformity with articles 9, 10 and 14 of the Covenant.
23. The Committee is concerned
that the substitute prison system (Daiyo Kangoku), though subject
to a branch of the police which does not deal with investigation, is not
under the control of a separate authority. This may increase the chances
of abuse of the rights of detainees under articles 9 and 14 of the Covenant.
The Committee reiterates its recommendation, made after consideration
of the third periodic report, that the substitute prison system should
be made compatible with all requirements of the Covenant.
24. The Committee is concerned
that rule 4 of the Habeas Corpus Rules under the Habeas Corpus Law limits
the grounds for obtaining a writ of habeas corpus to (a) the absence of
a legal right to place a person in custody and (b) manifest violation
of due process. It also requires exhaustion of all other remedies. The
Committee is of the view that rule 4 impairs the effectiveness of the
remedy for challenging the legality of detention and is therefore incompatible
with article 9 of the Covenant. The Committee recommends that the State
party repeal rule 4 and make the remedy of habeas corpus fully effective
without any limitation or restriction.
25. The Committee is deeply
concerned about the fact that a large number of the convictions in criminal
trials are based on confessions. In order to exclude the possibility that
confessions are extracted under duress, the Committee strongly recommends
that the interrogation of the suspect in police custody or substitute
prisons be strictly monitored, and recorded by electronic means.
26. The Committee is concerned
that under the criminal law, there is no obligation on the prosecution
to disclose evidence it may have gathered in the course of the investigation
other than that which it intends to produce at the trial, and that the
defence has no general right to ask for the disclosure of that material
at any stage of the proceedings. The Committee recommends that, in accordance
with the guarantees provided for in article 14, paragraph 3, of the Covenant,
the State party ensure that its law and practice enable the defence to
have access to all relevant material so as not to hamper the right of
27. The Committee is deeply
concerned at many aspects of the prison system in Japan which raise serious
questions of compliance with articles 2, paragraph 3 (a), 7 and 10 of
the Covenant. Specifically, the Committee is concerned with the following:
(a) Harsh rules of conduct
in prisons that restrict the fundamental rights of prisoners, including
freedom of speech, freedom of association and privacy;
(b) Use of harsh punitive
measures, including frequent resort to solitary confinement;
(c) Lack of fair and open
procedures for deciding on disciplinary measures against prisoners accused
of breaking the rules;
(d) Inadequate protection
for prisoners who complain of reprisals by prison warders;
(e) Lack of a credible system
for investigating complaints by prisoners; and
(f) Frequent use of protective
measures, such as leather handcuffs, that may constitute cruel and inhuman
28. The Committee is concerned
that the Central Labour Relations Commission refuses to hear an application
of unfair labour practices if the workers wear armbands indicating their
affiliation to a trade union. Such an action contravenes articles 19 and
22 of the Covenant. The Committee's view should be brought to the attention
of the Central Labour Relations Commission.
29. Despite the amendment
to the Business Entertainment Law, traffic in women and insufficient protection
for women subject to trafficking and slavery-like practices remain serious
concerns under article 8 of the Covenant. In light of information given
by the State party on planned new legislation against child prostitution
and child pornography, the Committee is concerned that such measures may
not protect children under the age of 18 when the age limit for sexual
consent is as low as 13. The Committee is also concerned about the absence
of specific legal provisions prohibiting bringing of foreign children
to Japan for the purpose of prostitution, despite the fact that abduction
and sexual exploitation of children are subject to penal sanctions. The
Committee recommends that the situation be brought into compliance with
the State party's obligations under articles 9, 17 and 24 of the Covenant.
30. The Committee continues
to be gravely concerned about the high incidence of violence against women,
in particular domestic violence and rape, and the absence of any remedial
measures to eradicate this practice. The Committee is troubled that the
courts in Japan seem to consider domestic violence, including forced sexual
intercourse, as a normal incident of married life.
31. The Committee, while acknowledging
the abolition of forced sterilization of disabled women, regrets that
the law has not provided for a right of compensation to persons who were
subjected to forced sterilization, and recommends that the necessary legal
steps be taken.
32. The Committee is concerned
that there is no provision for training of judges, prosecutors and administrative
officers in human rights under the Covenant. The Committee strongly recommends
that such training be made available. Judicial colloquiums and seminars
should be held to familiarize judges with the provisions of the Covenant.
The Committee's general comments and the Views expressed by the Committee
on communications under the Optional Protocol should be supplied to the
33. The Committee urges the
Government to take action on the ground of these concluding observations
and to consider them in the preparation of the fifth periodic report.
It also recommends that the State party continue reviewing its laws, and
making appropriate amendments, so as to bring its legislation into full
conformity with the Covenant. The Committee recommends that the State
party take measures to provide remedies to victims of violations of human
rights and, in particular, that it ratify the Optional Protocol to the
34. The Committee expects
that in implementing these concluding observations the State party will
engage itself in a dialogue with all domestic interested parties, including
non-governmental organizations. The Committee urges the State party to
ensure the wide dissemination of its report and of these concluding observations.
35. The Committee has fixed
the date of submission of Japan's fifth periodic report to be October