Japan Urged to Address Discrimination Issues
SNA (Tokyo) — The following stories were reported recently by the Shingetsu News Agency.
—UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) issues report discussing areas where Japanese policy falls short. Excerpts follow: “The Committee reiterates its previous recommendations that the State party ensure that its definition of racial discrimination is in line with article 1, paragraph 1, of the Convention, and include the grounds of national or ethnic origin, colour and descent… the Committee recommends that the State party establish a national human rights institution with a broad mandate to promote and protect human rights, in compliance with the Paris Principles… Deliver training programs on hate crimes and the Hate Speech Elimination Act for law enforcement officers, including police, prosecutors, the judiciary, including proper methods for identifying the racist motive of the crimes, registering complaints, and investigating… Investigate and apply appropriate sanctions for hate crimes, racist hate speech, and incitement to hatred by private individuals or public officials including by politicians or media professionals… Conduct educational campaigns to address the root causes of prejudices and promote tolerance and respect for diversity, including in particular with a focus on the role and responsibilities of journalists and public officials… The Committee recommends that the State party ensure the proper safety and protection of Ryukyu/Okinawa persons, including women from violence and ensure proper prosecution and conviction of perpetrators… Committee recommends that the State party ensure that Koreans who have lived in Japan for many generations be allowed the right to vote in local elections, and serve as national public servants who can also engage in the exercise of public authority or decision-making… The Committee recommends that the State party take efforts to ensure that Korean women and children are protected from multiple forms of discrimination and hate speech… the Committee recommends that the State party put an end to ethnic or ethnoreligious profiling and surveillance of Muslims of foreign origin by the police and undertake thorough and impartial investigations into all allegations of profiling and mass surveillance… Committee recommends the State party ensure a lasting solution to the issue of “comfort women” with a victim-centred approach, inclusive of “comfort women” of all nationalities, accepting responsibility for its role in the violation of the human rights of these women… Create and enforce legislation against the posting of discriminatory signs and the practice of excluding public services by privately owned facilities such as hotel and restaurants to persons on the basis being a foreigner or of foreign appearance… Allow non-citizens, especially long-term foreign residents and their descendants, to also have access to public positions that engage in the exercise of public authority or public decision-making.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga criticizes the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for failing to conform with the Abe government’s position on Comfort Women.
—Shinzo Abe formally announces that he is seeking a 3rd term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. He is expected to win reelection easily based on the factional support he has already lined up.
—Kyodo News Poll: Plurality of the public prefers reelection of Shinzo Abe (36.3%) as Liberal Democratic Party leader over his challenger Shigeru Ishiba (31.3%), though the margin is much narrower than the ruling party vote will be.
—Seiko Noda gives up notion of running for the post of LDP president, once again unable to gain the necessary 20 lawmaker supporters to file her candidacy. She will support Shinzo Abe over Shigeru Ishiba. Yet another Abe rival fizzles and then kisses his hand.
—Shinzo Abe in Kagoshima: “I want Satsuma and Choshu to combine their power and to create a new era.” It is another reminder that Shinzo Abe’s historical consciousness is different from most ordinary Japanese. For him, the Satsuma-Choshu dominance and militarization of modern Japan remains a positive memory. Note also he is claiming to be the true representative of Choshu.
—Ruling party sends letter to all the major Japanese news media organizations warning them to be “fair” in their coverage of the party presidential race.
—Keizo Hamada elected to third term as Governor of Kagawa Prefecture.
—Aso Faction urges Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to hold public referendum before the July 2019 House of Councillors election for the purpose of quickly revising pacifist Article Nine of the Constitution.
—Prosecutors file criminal charges against Smile Party leader Mac Akasaka on suspicion of sexual assault against one of his former followers.
—The Japanese tourist detained by North Korea earlier this month has now been expelled from the country. Pyongyang accused him of illegal behavior, but never specified the charges.
—Japan’s Immigration Bureau set for promotion to “Immigration Agency” from next April. Justice Ministry to request budget to hire 500 more officers.
—Harumasa Nakanishi will be the All-Okinawa candidate for Ginowan Mayor in the September 30 elections. He is the former Chairman of the Prefectural High School PTA. His conservative opponent is Vice-Mayor Masanori Matsukawa.
—Japan Innovation Party to support the Abe government candidate for Okinawa Governor, Atsushi Sakima. Their main agent in Okinawa is Mikio Shimoji, who received about 69,000 votes in the 2014 gubernatorial elections.
—Washington Post reports that Shigeru Kitamura, head of Japan’s Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office, met a North Korean officer in Vietnam for a bilateral meeting that was kept hidden from the United States. The Trump government said to be annoyed.
—Washington Post also reports that Trump became irritable with Abe during their June meeting, announcing, “I remember Pearl Harbor” and “I’m on to the Japanese.”
—In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry blocked a Sankei Shinbun reporter from covering a diplomatic meeting. Other mainstream Japanese media organizations boycotted the pool coverage. Too bad the major Japanese media never acts like that at home toward independent media.
—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano has announced for the first time his party’s clear-cut opposition to the construction of the US Marine air base at Henoko.
—A large-scale drill was held in Fukui Prefecture on the scenario of a simultaneous crisis at the Oi and Takahama nuclear power plants. About 21,000 people were mobilized for the exercise.
—Communications Ministry to require mobile phone carriers to remove SIM card locks on used phones from September 2019. The major carriers installed these locks as a measure to stifle competition from smaller, lost-cost carriers.
—A new round of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations have begun in Singapore.
—Environment Ministry trying to find innovative means to prevent heatstroke, testing various local initiatives for their effectiveness.
—Japan Meteorological Agency wants a budget to improve its warning systems to prevent heatstroke in the increasingly hot summers.
—Trial runs of autonomous taxis have begun in Tokyo. Running between Otemachi and Roppongi, passengers pay normal taxi fees for rides in driverless vehicles. At some point in the next decade or two, the profession of “taxi driver” may no longer exist in many places.
—Western Japan Floods: Reviewing the massive floods in July, the human casualty figures have settled at 220 people confirmed dead and 10 still missing.
—The Vietnam Mutual Aid Association in Japan is established to offer support for the fastest-growing foreign community in the country. There are now more than 260,000 Vietnamese in Japan, making them the third-largest nationality after Chinese and South Koreans.
—Y&M Fujikake Daiichi Hospital in Gifu raided by police on suspicion of murder of five elderly people. It is suspected that the patients all died of heatstroke after the air conditioners in their rooms broke down. The hospital is denying the charges.
Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between August 26 and August 30.
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