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.