Japan (2nd cycle)
For a summary of Japan’s review at the first cycle please click here.
14th UPR session
Date of review: 31 October 2012
Date of report adoption: 14 March 2013
Working Group report: A/HRC/22/14
Recommendations: Implement comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to provide protection for the rights of LGBT persons.
Recommendation: Lobby for and implement comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to provide protection for the rights of LGBT persons.
Status: No clear response.
I. Key issues/recommendations identified by NGOs
- Include sexual orientation and gender identity in non-discrimination legislation;
- Provide equal benefits to unmarried same-sex and opposite-sex couples;
- Remove restrictions on changing gender in government registries;
- Consider applying the Yogyakarta Principles as a guide to policy development.
II. Excerpts from input reports
IV. Achievements, best practices, challenges
B. Protection of the human rights of women and others
5 Initiatives to address problems faced by minority women (subparagraph 8 )
40. Based on the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality, the Government of Japan intends to advance efforts to realize a gender-equal society.
41. The Basic Plan states that “in such cases where women are put in an even more difficult situation because of their gender and where people, regardless of sex, are put in a difficult situation because of their sexual orientation, necessary efforts will be made from the perspective of ensuring gender equality, while carrying out education and awareness-raising activities on human rights and providing remedies to victims of human rights violations.”
E. Measures to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (subparagraph 11)
61. In Japan, with the entry into force in July 2004 of the Act on Special Provisions for Handling People with Gender Identity Disorders, people with gender identity disorder may now change their gender in family registers. The 2008 revision to the Act has relaxed requirements for the change of gender by people with gender identity disorder from “the person has no child at present” to “the person has no minor child at present.”
62. The Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality states that “efforts will be made on awareness, consultation, investigation, and redress activities with the aim of eliminating discrimination and prejudice against sexual orientation” and “efforts will be made on awareness, consultation, investigation, and redress activities with the aim of eliminating discrimination and prejudice against people with gender identity disorders.”
63. The Human Rights Organs of the Ministry of Justice regard the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity disorders as a part of issues that needs to be addressed and are carrying out throughout the year various awareness-raising activities, including seminars or distribution of pamphlets all over the country. Furthermore, in case a human rights infringement such as harassment for sexual orientation or gender identity disorder is suspected through the course of human rights counseling, etc. the organs investigate it as a human rights infringement case and take appropriate measures in cooperation with the concerned organizations.
64. The Government of Japan believes that any violation of human rights due to sexual orientation or gender identity should not be tolerated, and therefore signed as a member of the core group the statement on sexual orientation and gender identity adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations at its 63rd session in 2008.
65. At the 16th session of the Human Rights Council held in 2011, Japan participated in the joint statement calling for an end to criminalization and violence against people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and supported the resolution concerning “human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity” at the 17th session of the Human Rights Council. Japan will continue to participate in related discussions organized by the United Nations.
Compilation of UN information
III. Implementation of international human rights obligations
A. Equality and non-discrimination
24. The HR Committee urged Japan to amend the legislation in order to include sexual orientation among the prohibited grounds of discrimination and ensure that benefits granted to unmarried cohabiting opposite-sex couples were equally granted to unmarried cohabiting same-sex couples.
Summary of stakeholder submissions
I. Background and framework
C. Institutional and human rights infrastructure and policy measures
9. HRN questioned the independence and the compliance with Paris Principles of the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) proposed in the 2011 draft legislation to establish a NHRI under the Minister of Justice. JS2 stated that the proposed NHRI would not address the problematic discrimination issues (harassment against Korean schools, discriminatory speech against women or sexual minorities, etc.). JS2 considered that the NHRI should be organizationally, financially and functionally independent in line with the Paris Principles; the requirement of the commissioners should include expertise in human rights activities and remedies and the participation of the minorities should also be ensured. It further stated that an anti-discrimination law should be adopted along with the law on the NHRI. AI expressed also concerns regarding the independence of the envisaged NHRI.
15. Joint Submission 8 (JS8) welcomed the inclusion of lesbian, bisexual women and transgender people in the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality.
E. Implementation of international human rights obligations, taking into account applicable international humanitarian law
1. Equality and non-discrimination
22. AI indicated Ainu, Burakamin and Okinawans, continued to face discrimination. It added that national legislation did not provide protection against direct or indirect discrimination on the basis of age, gender, religion, sexual orientation or nationality.
25. According to SA there is no legislation to prohibit discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity. As a result, this kind of discrimination is prevalent, therefore lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people often cannot obtain appropriate support, many of them are often subjected to harassment, sometimes resulting in committing suicide, resignation, and dismissal from work. SA also noted that LGBT people did not have access to social services due to lack of understanding of the public officers and users of the public facilities.
26. JS8 said that the situation faced by LGBT persons was characterized by invisibility, marginalization, silent prejudice and stigmatization. It added that LGBT persons were subjected to human rights violations including discrimination in all aspects of life such as education, employment, housing and health care. JS8 noted that cases of human rights violations against LGBT persons had not been adequately documented and suggested the adoption of anti-discrimination legislation.
III. References to SOGI during the Working Group review
Canada, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Norway, Argentina, and the United States made recommendations to Japan on discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (see below).
IV. Conclusions and/or recommendations
The following recommendations enjoy the support of Japan:
147.34. Consider strengthening legislative protection from racial discrimination and discrimination based on sexual orientation (Canada);
147.36. Ensure that the domestic legislation concerning discrimination is consistent with that contained in the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) which deals furthermore with all forms of direct or indirect discrimination based on age, sex, religion and sexual orientation (Switzerland);
147.65. Review its national legislation with a view to eliminating discriminatory provisions based on a comprehensive list of grounds, including social status, gender and sexual orientation (Czech Republic);
147.89. Consider further measures for the protection and integration of LGBT individuals, and for the elimination of all discriminatory treatment on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity (Argentina);
147.85. Define discrimination in national legislation in line with the ICERD, and prohibit all forms of direct and indirect discrimination, including on the basis of age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or nationality (Norway).
No clear response was given to the following recommendation:
147.90. Lobby for and implement comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to provide protection for the rights of LGBT persons (United States of America).
Explanation of the State under review: The Act on Special Provisions for Handling People with Gender Identity Disorders came into force in 2004 for the purpose of alleviating the social disadvantages of people with gender identity disorders. (A/HRC/22/14/Add.1)
V. Adoption of the Report
The report of the working group was adopted at the 22nd regular session of the Human Rights Council in March 2013.
Statements by States and other stakeholders
International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
[…] While noting that the government of Japan has been arguing that the Article 14 of the Constitution ensuring equality under the law is enough to address any discrimination issues, we regret that the government has being failing to grasp the complex nature and various forms of the issue of discrimination as well as the needs of the victims on the ground. The fact that various incidents of discrimination, hate speech, discriminatory practice are happening in the society clearly shows the necessity for specific Anti-Discrimination Law clearly defining and comprehensively addressing all forms of direct and indirect discrimination including those based on race, colour, work, descent, ethnic or national origin, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability, age, religion and so on. Discrimination of any kind must be explicitly prohibited and prevented, and remedies for victims ensured through domestic legislation. Furthermore, we are deeply concerned over the cases of incitement to hatred and hostility towards minority groups, such as resident Koreans, Chinese, and sexual minorities, that are repeatedly occurring without any intervention from State actors, or even conducted by public figures. In this context, we express our disappointment that the government of Japan is rejecting the withdrawal of its reservation to ICERD Article 4. […]
ILGA, Gay Japan News & Rainbow Action, delivered by Azusa Yamashita
We welcome the responses of the Japanese government to the recommendations made by the governments of Argentina, Canada, Norway, Switzerland and the United States requesting to prohibit and eliminate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
We appreciate that the Japanese government has taken positive steps in recent years towards protecting the rights of LGBT people by changing relevant policies. Such changes include issuing the legal document certifying one’s single status when one attempts to marry abroad whether it is same-sex or opposite-sex couples. Inclusion of mental health of sexual minority population in the national policy on suicide prevention is also one of these changes.
However, sterilization requirement of transgender people in the Law on Special Provisions for Handling People with Gender Identity Disorder, lack of anti-discrimination legislation including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity as well as social stigmatization remain great challenges towards achieving equality and wellbeing of LGBT people.
We are also concerned by the government’s decision to reintroduce the supplementary teaching materials for moral education in elementary and junior high schools that says being attracted to someone of the opposite sex is natural. This reinforces heteronormativity and excludes non-heteronormative pupils.
We call on the government of Japan to take concrete steps to implement the recommendations to protect all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We will be happy to share our expertise in this regard.
VI. Further information
For first cycle reports of Japan, please see here
National report 1: A | C | E | F | R | S
Compilation of UN information 2: A | C | E | F | R | S
Summary of stakeholders’ information 3: A | C | E | F | R | S
Questions submitted in advance : E
Addendum 1: E
Addendum 2: E
Addendum 3: E
Addendum 4: E
Addendum 5: E
Outcome of the review
Report of the Working group: A | C | E | F | R | S
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