Category: Japan

JAPAN – Prime Minister eyes legislation to establish human rights agency

At a plenary session of the House of Councilors on 3 February 2010, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama expressed that he’d like to present the bill on human rights as soon as possible.

“While Japan claims to be a state of human rights, there have been several numbers of serious human rights violations. Thus, it is important to establish such an agency which deals with human rights adequately”, he told reporters.

The bill focuses on the establishment of a governmental human rights agency to provide relief to victims of human rights violations. This is akin to a national human rights institution: the agency shall not be under any ministry or agency. It shall also have quasi-judicial powers.

The bill has been discussed within the present governing party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). According to the DPJ’s election manifestos for the House of Representatives of 2009, it promised the establishment of a human rights agency as an external office of the cabinet.

The party also promised to create a society where human rights are respected. When the party came into power, Prime Minister Hatoyama appointed Keiko Chiba, a human rights lawyer, as the Minister of Justice. She announced that it would be natural to establish a human rights agency in the country and she promised her efforts for its establishment.

JAPAN – One step forward to establish “human rights relief agency”

Citizens’ Council for Human Rights Japan, FORUM-ASIA member, welcomed the interim report on the establishment of a human rights commission in the country. Below is their statement issued on 23 June 2010.

Minister, Senior Vice – Minister and Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Justice announced a ‘New Establishment of Human Rights Relief Agency (Interim Report)’ yesterday, June 22 2010. Citizens’ Council for Human Rights Japan (CCHRJ) has, in cooperation with other civil society organizations, asked the Japanese government for the establishment of national human rights institution (NHRI) in Japan conforming to Paris Principles. The Interim Report reflects our points and we thus largely welcome it, especially the followings.

1. The report mentions the establishment of “Human Rights Commission” (hereinafter, the Commission) which conforms to Paris Principles and is independent of the government;

2. the establishment of the Commission under the Cabinet Office instead of the Ministry of Justice; and

3. ‘No specific provisions regarding the human rights violations by the media are made in the bill. It is the agenda of further consideration based on the voluntary efforts by the media’

The points above largely correspond to our contentions and significantly developed from the previous Human Rights Protection Bill submitted by the former coalition government of Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito. CCHRJ appreciates the courageous decision. For further considerations on the specific details, CCHRJ urges the government to continue the positive considerations based on the viewpoints mentioned in the report.

In relation to a new establishment of the Commission, we expect the government to conduct the open and transparent procedure by ensuring the opportunities to consult with various human rights organizations and organizations of the people concerned. We ask for the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, to make further efforts toward the establishment of NHRI in accordance with Paris Principles in cooperation with the government.

CCHRJ will also strive for the establishment of NHRI by cooperating with the government, which is independent of the government and is able to provide effective redress for human rights violations.

20 July. Launch Publication Internet and Social Media in Asia: Battleground for Freedom of Expression, Tokyo, Japan

FORUM-ASIA will launch a new publication on Internet and Social Media in Asia

Where? , Room 17602, 6th Floor, Building No.17, Aoyama Campus, Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo

When? 20 July, 11.00am-12.30pm


The dramatic growth of the Internet and the use of social media have created an unprecedented space for the advancement of human rights and democracy all around the world. More and more human rights defenders, dissidents, as well as marginalised and vulnerable groups are now utilising the Internet and social media to get their voices heard, in a manner that has never before been as accessible, effective and wide-reaching.

Asia, as a region, in particular has experienced the fastest Internet growth in the world. However, many governments in Asia have also responded to this development by tightening controls over the Internet and the use of social media. Voices of dissent emerging from these new spaces created by advancements on the Internet have often been met with harsh crackdown by governments. Those who express views that are contrary to dominant cultural and religious norms are particularly targeted – not only by governments but by non-state actors as well. The Internet and social media have thus become battlegrounds between those claiming and utilising the new space for free speech and expressions, and those who seek to close this space.

Internet and Social Media in Asia: Battleground for Freedom of Expression charts these contestations, and analyses the impacts of the Internet and social media on freedom of expression in countries across the Asian region. Based on two regional symposiums on freedom of expression held in 2011 and 2012, this publication compiles numerous cases that illustrate the trends and challenges relating to freedom of expression on the Internet and social media in Asia.

For inquiries, please contact:

John Liu, East Asia Programme Officer, FORUM-ASIA, +66802828610,