Subject: [cwj 143] UN Calls for Anti-Racism Legislation in Japan
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2001 11:43:56 -0800
Seq: 143

HUMAN RIGHTS-JAPAN: UN Calls for Anti-Racism Legislation

By Gustavo Capdevila

GENEVA, Mar 9 (IPS) - The United Nations Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination discussed reports of racist
remarks by Japanese authorities like right-wing Tokyo Governor
Shintaro Ishihara, who has made derogatory statements about
''Third World people.''

The UN committee noted Japan's lack of legislation prohibiting
that form of intolerance, and more specifically banning racist
propaganda and organisations.

The committee's rapporteur on Japan, Luis Valencia, called on
Tokyo to strike down the objections it has raised to article four
of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of
Racial Discrimination.

The article to which the Japanese government is opposed
stipulates that signatory states to the convention must adopt laws
banning racist propaganda and the instigation of racial hatred.

In his conclusion to the discussions of the situation in Japan,
which ended Friday, Valencia noted that several committee members
lamented Japan's lack of legal safeguards for its indigenous
inhabitants, the Ainu.

The independent experts sitting on the UN committee referred to
the persistence of discriminatory practices against the Ainu, and
against Koreans and other immigrants.

The Japanese delegation attending the committee hearing said
Governor Ishihara had explained that his statements were not aimed
at inciting racial discrimination.

But a group of Japanese non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
attending the committee meeting complained that Ishihara had
repeatedly made hostile, discriminatory remarks against

In an Apr 9, 2000 speech to Japan's Self-Defence Force, the
governor said that ''in Tokyo today, very atrocious crimes are
being repeated by 'third-world people' and foreigners who have
entered Japan illegally.''

On another occasion, he remarked that ''Chinese-made marijuana
is steadily being brought into Japan and apparently sold by
Pakistanis. Within Japan, such dangerous drugs are increasingly
spread by 'third-world people' and foreigners.''

The NGOs participating in the committee meeting included the
International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and
Racism - Japan, the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations, the
Buraku Liberation League and the Ainu Association of Hokkaido.

Also attending were the Shimin Gaiko Centre (SGC - Citizens'
Diplomatic Centre for the Rights of Indigenous People), the
Research-Action Institute for Koreans in Japan (RAIK), the
National Network in Solidarity with Migrant Workers (made up of 89
NGOs), and the Network to make Ishihara resign as Tokyo governor.

In 1998, there were 1.5 million foreign nationals in Japan,
equivalent to 1.2 percent of the country's population of 126
million. Most of the foreigners were Koreans (42 percent),
followed by the Chinese (18 percent) and Brazilians (nearly 15

Koichi Haraguchi, Japan's Ambassador and Permanent
Representative to the UN office at Geneva, said that ''in addition
to the discrimination against Utari (Ainu), Korean residents and
others, new problems have surfaced in Japan because of the influx
of a large number of foreign workers - mainly from Asian countries -
over the past 10 years.''

Valencia, meanwhile, pointed to continuing discriminatory
practices against the Ainu, most of whom live in the prefecture of
Hokkaido in northern Japan. The Japanese government delegation,
which said the Ainu numbered less than 24,000 in 1993, maintained
that their living standards were improving.

The rapporteur, however, said Japanese authorities failed to
grant the Ainu recognition as indigenous people.

[c] 2001, InterPress Third World News Agency (IPS)
All rights reserved
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