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Summary: This report extracts mentions of children's rights issues in the Concluding Observations of all UN Treaty Bodies and their follow-up procedures. This does not include the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child which are available here: http://www.crin.org/resources/treaties/index.asp
Please note that the language may have been edited in places for the purpose of clarity.
UN Human Rights Committee
- UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
UN Committee against Torture
- UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
- UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
- UN Committee on Migrant Workers
- UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- UN Committee on Enforced Disappearance
Last Reported: 15 and 16 October 2008 Concluding Observations issued: 18 December 2008
Issues raised and recommendations given:
Gender discrimination in employment: The Committee is concerned about reports that women are excluded from benefits such as paid leave, maternity protection and family allowance, are vulnerable to sexual harassment owing to their unstable contractual situation, and that they are often forced to work as part-time workers to sustain family life. The State party should take measures to promote the recruitment of women as formal workers and to eliminate the gender wage gap including (c) further increasing the number of child-care facilities, with a view to enabling women as well as men to balance work and family life; (d) relax the conditions for equal treatment of part-time workers under the revised Part-Time Workers Law; (g) adopt effective measures to prevent indirect discrimination. (art. 2 (1), 3 and 26) (Para. 13)
Sexual violence: The Committee notes with concern that the definition of rape in article 177 of the Criminal Code only covers actual sexual intercourse between men and women and requires resistance by victims against the attack, and that rape and other sexual crimes cannot be prosecuted without a complaint filed by the victim except in cases where the victim is under 13 years of age. It is also concerned about reports that perpetrators of sexual violence frequently escape just punishment or receive light sentences, that judges often unduly focus on the sexual past of victims and require them to provide evidence that they have resisted the assault, that the monitoring and enforcement of the revised Prison Law and the guidelines of the National Police Agency for victim support is ineffective, and that there is a lack of doctors and nurses with specialized training in sexual violence, as well as of support for non-governmental organizations providing such training.
The State party should broaden the scope of the definition of rape in article 177 of the Criminal Code and ensure that incest, sexual abuse other than actual sexual intercourse, as well as rape of men, are considered serious criminal offences; remove the burden on victims to prove resistance against the assault; and prosecute rape and other crimes of sexual violence ex officio. It should also introduce mandatory gender‑sensitive training in sexual violence for judges, prosecutors and police and prison officers. (art. 3, 7 and 26) (Para. 14)
Domestic violence: The Committee is concerned that sentences for perpetrators of domestic violence are reportedly lenient and that violators of protection orders are only arrested in cases of repeated violations or when they ignore warnings. It is also concerned that there is a lack of long-term assistance for victims of domestic violence, and that the delays in granting foreign victims of domestic violence residence status effectively bar them from applying for stable employment and from having access to social security benefits.
The State party should review its sentencing policy for perpetrators of domestic violence, detain and prosecute violators of protection orders, increase the amount of compensation for victims of domestic violence and of child-rearing allowances for single mothers, enforce court orders for compensation and child support, and strengthen long-term rehabilitation programmes and facilities, as well as assistance for victims with special needs, including non-citizens. (art. 3, 7, 26 and 2 (3)) (Para. 15)
Comfort women: The State party should accept legal responsibility and apologize unreservedly for the “comfort women” system in a way that is acceptable to the majority of victims and restores their dignity, prosecute perpetrators who are still alive, take immediate and effective legislative and administrative measures to compensate adequately all survivors as a matter of right, educate students and the general public about the issue, and refute and sanction any attempt to defame victims or to deny the events. (Para. 22)
Age of sexual consent: The Committee is concerned about the low age of sexual consent, which has been set at 13 years for boys and girls. The State party should raise the age of sexual consent for boys and girls from its current level of 13 years, with a view to protecting the normal development of children and preventing child abuse. (art. 24) (Para. 27)
Children born out of wedlock: The Committee reiterates its concern that children born out of wedlock are discriminated against with regard to the acquisition of nationality, inheritance rights and birth registration. The State party should remove any provisions discriminating against children born out of wedlock from its legislation, including article 3 of the Nationality Law, article 900 (4) of the Civil Code, and article 49 (1), item 1, of the Family Registration Law prescribing that birth registration forms shall indicate whether or not a child is “legitimate”. (art. 2 (1), 24 and 26) (Para. 28)
LGBT rights: The Committee is concerned about discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in employment, housing, social security, healthcare, education and other fields regulated by law. The State party should consider amending its legislation, with a view to including sexual orientation among the prohibited grounds of discrimination, and ensure that benefits granted to unmarried cohabiting opposite-sex couples are equally granted to unmarried cohabiting same-sex couples, in line with the Committee’s interpretation of article 26 of the Covenant. (art. 2 (1) and 26) (Para. 29)
Korean language schools: The Committee is concerned that State subsidies for schools that teach in the Korean language are significantly lower than those for ordinary schools, making them heavily dependent on private donations, which are not exempted or deductible from taxes, unlike donations to private Japanese schools or international schools, and that diplomas from Korean schools do not automatically qualify students to enter university. The State party should ensure the adequate funding of Korean language schools by increasing State subsidies and applying the same fiscal benefits to donors of Korean schools as to donors of other private schools, and recognize diplomas from Korean schools as direct university entrance qualifications. (art. 26 and 27) (Para. 31)
Indigenous peoples: The Committee notes with concern that the State party has not officially recognized the Ainu and the Ryukyu/Okinawa as indigenous peoples entitled to special rights and protection. The State party should expressly recognize the Ainu and Ryukyu/Okinawa as indigenous peoples in domestic legislation, adopt special measures to protect, preserve and promote their cultural heritage and traditional way of life, and recognize their land rights. It should also provide adequate opportunities for Ainu and Ryukyu/Okinawa children to receive instruction in or of their language and about their culture, and include education on Ainu and Ryukyu/Okinawa culture and history in the regular curriculum. (art. 27) (Para. 32)
Last reported: 28 and 29 October 1998
Concluding Observations adopted: 5 November 1998
Issues raised and recommendations given:
Minimum age for marriage: The Committee recommends that the State party amend the Civil Code to ensure the minimum age is the same for both sexes. (Para. 11)
Age for sexual consent: the age of sexual consent, currently set at 13 years for boys and girls, is too low. The Committee urges Japan to raise the age of sexual consent for boys and girls with a view to protecting the development of children and preventing child abuse. (Para. 27)
Children born out of wedlock: Children born out of wedlock are discriminated against in acquiring nationality, inheritance rights and birth certificates. The Committee recommends that the State party remove any provisions discriminating against children born out of wedlock from its legislation. (Para. 28)
UN Human Rights Committee follow-up
4 January 2010
No specific mentions of children's rights
UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Last reported: 30 April 2013 Concluding Observations issued: 10 April 2013
Issues raised and recommendations given:
Children born out of wedlock: The Committee notes with concern that provisions which are discriminatory towards women, children born out of wedlock and same-sex couples continue to exist in the State party’s legislation insofar as Covenant rights are concerned, in spite of the State party’s efforts to ensure compliance with its obligations under the Covenant when undertaking legislative revisions. The Committee urges the State party to review in a comprehensive manner and, where necessary, amend its laws to ensure that they do not directly or indirectly discriminate in relation to the exercise and enjoyment of the Covenant rights. (art. 2(2)) (Para. 10)
Stereotypes: The Committee is concerned that the entrenched gender role stereotypes in the State party continue to prevent women’s equal enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. The Committee also notes with concern that, in spite of steps taken such as the adoption of the consecutive Basic Plans for Gender Equality, no sufficient measures have targeted a change of attitude on gender roles in society at large. Moreover, the Committee is concerned that, in spite of the commendable efforts by the State party, progress is slow, as shown by the still drastic vertical and horizontal gender segregation in the labour market and the high percentage of women who have to leave work or move to part-time employment after childbirth. The Committee regrets the conservative targets set by the State party in the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality, which will not accelerate the achievement of equality in the exercise of the Covenant rights (art. 3) (Para. 13)
The Committee urges the State party to: (a) Carry out awareness-raising campaigns to change society’s perception of gender roles; (b) Educate girls and boys about equal career opportunities with a view to promoting their pursuance of education in fields other than those traditionally dominated by either sex; (c) Adopt bolder goals, targeting both men and women in the Basic Plans for Gender Equality, and implementing temporary measures, such as quotas, in the fields of education, employment and political and public decision-making; (d) Abolish practices, such as the career-track system and dismissal on the ground of pregnancy, which discriminate against women; and (e) Accelerate the achievement of zero waiting lists for day care and make day care affordable.
The Committee requests that the State party include in its next periodic report the statistical data disaggregated by sex, income level and educational background in the enjoyment of the Covenant rights, as announced by the delegation during the dialogue, and explain how this data has informed policy-making on gender equality.
Post natural disaster: Noting the complexity of relief response to the consequences of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear accident, the Committee is concerned that the specific needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, such as older persons, persons with disabilities, and women and children, were not sufficiently met during the evacuation and in the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts (art. 11, 2(2)) (Para. 24)
Noting that the lessons learned from the consequences of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear accident have led to the adoption of new arrangements to better respond to the needs of affected communities, including vulnerable groups, in future relief and reconstruction efforts, the Committee recommends that the State party adopt a human rights-based approach to disaster response, risk mitigation and reconstruction efforts. In particular, the Committee recommends that the State party ensure that disaster management plans do not discriminate or lead to discrimination in the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights.
Education: The Committee is concerned at the exclusion of Korean schools from the State party’s tuition fee waiver programme for high school education, which constitutes discrimination. Recalling that the prohibition against discrimination applies fully and immediately to all aspects of education and encompasses all internationally prohibited grounds of discrimination, the Committee calls on the State party to ensure that the tuition fee waiver programme for high school education is extended to children attending Korean schools. (arts. 13 and 14) (Para. 27)
Education and foreign children: The Committee notes with concern that a large number of foreign children do not attend school. The Committee urges the State party to apply the monitoring of compulsory education to all children in the territory of the State party, including non-nationals, irrespective of their legal status. The Committee recommends that the State party include as soon as possible in its tuition fee waiver programme the entrance fees and textbook costs so as to progressively provide entirely free secondary education in accordance with article 13(b) of the Covenant.(arts. 13 and 14) (Para. 28)
Last reported: 21 and 22 May 2013 Concluding Observations issued - 28 June 2013
Issues raised and recommendations given:
Non-refoulement:The Committee expresses its concern about: (d) Detention of unaccompanied children in Child Consultation Centres, which are often overcrowded and lack resources for hiring interpreters. (Para. 9)
Trafficking: While noting the State party’s efforts to combat human trafficking, including the 2009 Action Plan on Measures to Combat Trafficking in Persons, the Committee is concerned at the lack of information on the resources provided for this action plan, and the wide discrepancy between the numbers of persons arrested for trafficking and of persons prosecuted and convicted. The Committee regrets the lack of information about the coordinating and monitoring body and the impact of measures to address trafficking, especially on children (arts. 2, 12, 13, 14 and 16) (Para. 21)
The Committee calls on the State party to fully implement the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons (A/HRC/14/32/Add.4), following her visit to Japan in 2009. In particular, the State party should ensure that: (a) Victims of trafficking are provided with adequate assistance for their physical and psychological recovery; (b) Clear identification procedures are set out, so that victims of trafficking are not incorrectly identified and treated as undocumented migrants and deported without redress or remedy; (c) Perpetrators are prosecuted and punished with appropriate penalties; (d) Specialized training is provided to relevant public officials in this regard. In addition, the State party should consider ratifying the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol).
Corporal punishment: Noting that child abuse is prohibited under article 3 of the Act on Child Abuse Prevention, the Committee shares concern raised by the Committee on the Rights of Child (CRC/C/JPN/CO/3, para. 47) that corporal punishment in the home and in alternative care settings is not expressly prohibited by law and that the Civil Code and the Act on Child Abuse Prevention allow the use of appropriate discipline and are unclear as to the admissibility of corporal punishment in some cases. The State party should explicitly prohibit corporal punishment and all forms of degrading treatment of children in all settings by law. (art. 16) (Para. 23)
Last reported: 9 and 10 May 2007
Concluding Observations adopted: 16 and 18 May 2007
Issues raised and recommendations given:
Violence: Allegations of gender-based violence and abuse against women and children in custody, including acts of sexual violence by law enforcement personnel, continue to rise. The restrictive scope of the State's legislation covering rape refers only to sexual intercourse involving male and female genital organs, excluding other forms of sexual abuse. The lack of effective measures to prevent and prosecute violence perpetrated against women and girls by military personnel, including foreign military personnel stationed on military bases. The Committee urges the State to ensure all victims of sexual violence can claim redress before courts of law, including victims of foreign military personnel stationed on military bases. (Para. 25)
UN Committee against Torture: follow-up
29 May 2008
The Committee requests further information about several areas of concern. These mainly concern the detention and deportation of immigrants, rights in detention and steps taken to provide education to address the roots of gender-based discrimination and sexual violence.
Asylum applications: Paragraph 3 of Article 61 stipulates that under 16s and those unable to appear at the relevant office due to disease may have an agent make the application on their behalf.
Follow-up letter (11 May 2009)
The Committee requests clarification on a number of areas of concern, including the following children's rights issues:
Asylum seekers: statistical information on the length of asylum applicants in 2008, disaggregated by age, gender, nationality and place of detention.
Sexual abuse and gender-based violence: The Committee reiterates its view that the continued failure to prosecute anyone responsible and provide adequate rehabilitation for victims of World War II sexual abuse fosters continuing abuse and re-traumatisation for the victims. In this regard, the Committee requests information on the measures taken (through junior high school history textbooks) to educate students and the general public about sexual and gender-based violence.
UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
Concluding Observations on the Seventh and Eighth Periodic Reports
Adopted by Commmittee: 16 February 2016
Published: 7 March 2016
Ratification and State Policies:
The Committee welcomes the adoption of the Act on Regulation and Punishment of Acts Relating to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the Protection of Children, in 2014.
Th Committee is concerned that despite the abolition in December 2013 of the provision that discriminated against children born out of wedlock in inheritance matters, various discriminatory provisions including the provision in the Family Register Act concerning the discriminatory description during birth notification have been retained.
Stereotypes and Harmful Practices:
The Committee is concerned the media often depicts women and girls in a stereotyped manner including as sex-objects; Stereotypes continue to be the root causes of sexual violence against women and that pornography, video games and animation such as manga promote sexual violence against women and girls.
Violence against Women:
The Committee notes that under the Eugenic Protection Act, the State party through the Prefectural Eugenic Protection Committee, sought to prevent births of children with diseases or disabilities and, as a result, subjected persons with disabilities to forced sterilisation.
Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation:
The Committee is concerned that the State party remains a source, transit and destination country for trafficking in persons, in particular women and girls, for purposes of labour and sexual exploitation.
The Committee notes the efforts made by the State party to address health concerns related to radiation following the Fukushima Dai-Chi Nuclear Power Plant accident in 2011. The Committee, however, notes with concern the State party’s plans to lift the designation as evacuation zones of contaminated areas with radiation exposure levels under 20 millisieverts per year, which may have a disproportionate effect on the health of women and girls.
The Committee is also concerned at the high ratio of abortion and suicide among teenage girls and women in the State party.
(para. 36, 38)
The Committee is concerned under the consent divorce regime, the law does not provide for a judicial review procedure over custody and child support matters in order to safeguard the welfare of children with the result that in cases where no agreement is reached for paying child support, children are left destitute.
Last reported: 23 July 2009
Issues raised and recommendations given:
Minimum age for marriage: There are discriminatory legal provisions in the Civil Code with respect to the minimum age for marriage. The Committee urges the State party to take immediate action to amend the Civil Code to set the minimum age for marriage at 18 for both women and men. (Paras. 17, 18)
Children born out of wedlock: Children born out of wedlock are discriminated against through the family registry system and in provisions on inheritance. The Committee urges Japan to repeal the discriminatory provisions in the Civil Code and in the Family Registration Law that discriminate against children born out of marriage. (Paras. 17, 18)
Sexual violence: the prevalence of video games and cartoons featuring rape, gang rape, stalking and sexual molestation of women and girls normalises sexual violence. These video games fall outside the legal definition of child pornography in the Act Banning Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. The Committee urges the State to ban the sale of video games or cartoons involving rape and sexual violence against women. It also recommended that Japan include this issue in its revision of the Act Banning Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. (Paras. 35, 36)
UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Last reported: 4 and 25 February 2010
Concluding Observations adopted: 9 March 2010
Issues raised and recommendations given:
Racial discrimination: the continued incidence of explicit and cruel statements and actions against ethnic groups, including children attending Korean schools and the harmful and racist expressions and attacks via the Internet directed, in particular, against Burakumin. The Committee recommends that the State party increase awareness-raising efforts against racial discrimination to help prevent racially motivated offences including hate speech. (Para. 13)
Racism in the education system: there is a lack of information on programmes to overcome racism in the education system. (Para. 22)
Indigenous children: The lack of adequate opportunities for Ainu children or children of other indigenous groups to receive instruction in their own language. In this regard, the Committee encourages the State party to consider providing adequate opportunities for minority groups to receive instruction in their language and invites the State to consider acceding to the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education. (Para. 22)
Discrimination in education: The Committee notes that the principle of compulsory education is not fully applied to children of foreigners. The Committee recommends that Japan ensure that there is no discrimination in the provision of educational opportunities and ensure that no child residing in the territory of the State party faces obstacles in connection with school enrolment and the achievement of compulsory education. It further regrets the differential treatment of schools for foreigners and descendants of Korean and Chinese residents, with regard to public assistance, subsidies and tax exemptions. It further regrets the approach of some politicians suggesting the exclusion of North Korean schools from current proposals for legislative change to make high school education tuition free of charge in public and private high schools, technical colleges and various institutions with comparable high school curricula. (Para. 22)
UN Committee on Migrant Workers
UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities