Buraku Liberation News, November 1998 issue (No.106)

The UN HRC's Concluding Observations to the Japanese Government's Four Periodic Report

Continued from the last issue. This is the latter part.

  1. 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 of notifications of executions to the family and lawyers of the prisoners 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.
  2. 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 many as twenty-three days under the control of the police and is not promptly and effectively brought under judicial control, the suspect is not entitled to bail during the period of twenty-three days; 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 defense 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.
  3. 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 of Japan, that the substitute prison system (Daiyo Kangoku) should be made compatible with all requirements of the Covenant.
  4. 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 (1) the absence of a legal right to place a person in custody and (2) manifest violation of due process. It also requires exhaustion of all their 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.
  5. 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 of extracting confessions 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.
  6. 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 defense 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 defense to have access to all relevant material in order that the right of defense is not hampered.
  7. The Committee is deeply concerned by many aspects of the prison system in Japan, which raise serious questions of compliance with articles 2, para. 3(a), 7 and 10 of the Covenant. Specifically, the Committee is concerned with the following:
  1. harsh rules of conduct in prisons that restrict the fundamental rights of prisoners, including freedom of speech, freedom of association and privacy;
  2. use of harsh punitive measures, including frequent resort of solitary confinement;
  3. lack of fair and open procedures for deciding on disciplinary measures against prisoners accused of breaking the rules;
  4. inadequate protection for prisoners who complain against reprisals by prison warders;
  5. lack of a credible system for investigating complaints by prisoners; and
  6. frequent use of protective measures, such as leather handcuffs, that may constitute cruel and inhuman treatment.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 thirteen. 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 in compliance with the State party's obligations under articles 9, 17 and 24 of the Covenant.
  3. 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 incidence in married life.
  4. 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 such persons who were subjected to forced sterilization, and recommends that the necessary legal steps be taken.
  5. 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. So far as judges are concerned, judicial colloquia and seminars should be held to familiarize them 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 judges.
  6. 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 Covenant.
  7. 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.
  8. The Committee has fixed the date of submission of Japan's fifth report to be October 2002.