|Introduction (About JAIWR)|
of International Women's Rights (JAIWR) is the organization established
for the purpose of research and promotion of the Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (hereunder Convention). The
organization has been paying special attention to the consideration of
Japanese reports by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination
against Women (CEDAW). Since its foundation in September 1987, the organization
sent its representatives to monitor the Committee's consideration of Japanese
initial report in January 1988 and the combined consideration of second
and third periodic reports in 1994. JAIWR also analyzed Japanese periodic
reports to the CEDAW and published its comments along with complete text
of each report, with permission from the Cabinet Office (formerly the
Prime Minister's Office), and summary of consideration by the CEDAW in
its annual journal. The organization's comments on the Japanese second
periodic report were translated into English and delivered to the Committee
JAIWR held a series of meetings to analyze the contents of the Japanese fifth periodic report in 2002. The following is an excerpt of the organization's analysis of the report. The comments are stated according to the order of articles of the Convention. Final English report shall be delivered before the 29th session begins.
Please contact us (contact info on the cover page) your e-mail or mailing address if you would like to have this report in advance.
*JAIWR have also called upon to organize a national network of NGOs to come together and voice their concerns to the CEDAW experts in this opportunity. A number of NGOs gathered in December 2002 and is now working together as the Japan NGO Network. Series of national events are planned to gather the voices of grass roots women and to make the Convention better and widely known.
(JAIWR's chairperson is Ryoko Akamatsu, former CEDAW expert from 1987 to 1994.)
Since the second consideration of Japanese reports in 1994, there have
been many positive changes in order to better implement requirements of
the Convention in Japan, including establishment of the Basic Law for
Gender- Equal Society and the Law for the Prevention of Spousal Violence
and the Protection of Victims as well as strengthening the national machinery.
These positive changes were, in a sense, brought out by the influence
of the NGO Forum that had been held in conjunction with the Fourth World
Conference on Women in 1995 where 5,536 Japanese women had participated.
In addition, many local governments have formulated ordinances to promote
gender equality (38 prefectures and 79 cities, wards, and towns as of
October 2002) which have made favorable impact on the society by putting
gender equality on local agenda. However, at the same time, the fact that
"backlash" brought by conservative parties in the process of
formulating such ordinances should not be neglected.
2. According to the "Human Development Report 2002", Japan is ranked ninth (9th) in the world with the Human Development Index (HDI) but thirty-second (32nd) with the Gender Empowerment Measures (GEM). This is the indication that the Committee's Concluding Comment made at paragraph 630 of U.N. Doc. A/50/38 has not been implemented. Japanese Government should seriously consider the comment and take necessary measures.
3. JAIWR welcomed that Japanese Government tried to accept inputs from NGOs in the process of drafting its fifth periodic report to the CEDAW. However, more substantial discussion with NGOs should have taken place according to the Committee's Concluding Comments (A/50/38).
4. Japanese report should have been organized according to each articles of the Convention, stating current situations, analysis of the situation, and measures taken (for example, in the case of Article 2). In addition, the Japanese official translation of the Article 3 of the Convention uses the Japanese word "nouryoku kaihatsu" (means "capability development") for the term "development", which resulted in a misleading description on Article 3 in the report.
5. Japanese NGOs are hoping with much enthusiasm that Japanese Government ratifies the Optional Protocol to the Convention and take necessary procedure to accept the revision of Clause 1, Article 20 of the Convention immediately.
|Article 2 Obligations of State Parties|
We welcome the establishment of the Basic Law for Gender-Equal Society
and the First Basic Plan for Gender Equality based on the Law in order
to implement the requirements stipulated in (a), (b), and (c) of the Article
2 of the Convention. We consider this is the greatest achievement made
by the partnership between Japanese Government and NGOs since the United
Nations Decade for Women. Article 4 on the Consideration to Social Systems
or Practices, Article 15 on the Consideration in Formulation of Policies,
Etc., and Article 17 on the Handling Complaints, Etc. of the Basic Law
describe key issues for changing the Japanese gender order that is indispensable
to attain de facto equality. Therefore, we would like to urge Japanese
Government to take immediate and effective action to implement such articles
of the Basic Law.
2. Prefectures, cities, wards, and towns throughout Japan have been establishing ordinances to build a gender equal society. Most of them are aiming to realize gender equal society with their residents involved, based on principles of the Convention and the Basic Law, taking the increasing local autonomy as well as characteristics of the locality into consideration. However, some conservative local representatives have been placing political pressure on local assemblies to include expressions in such ordinances that are not compatible with the principles of the Convention and the Basic Law. NGOs have been working actively against such "backlash" and we would like to ask the Government to take appropriate measures against the backlash. We also hope the CEDAW makes comments on this matter.
3. [The issue known as "Wartime Comfort Women"] Among the four (4) countries where the Asian Women's Fund (AWF) provided atonement money individually to the former "wartime comfort women", the governments of the Republic of Korea and Taiwan refused to accept this money. In addition, quite a few victims in all four countries refused to receive it, claiming for official apologies and compensation by the Government of Japan. Furthermore, there are countries that are not included in the list to provide AWF money.
As the Japanese social trend leaning toward the right, the description of "comfort women" has been deleted in three (3) of the eight (8) titles of the officially approved textbooks of history for junior high school. The other titles either do not use the words "comfort women" or contain only brief descriptions about the issue. "The Women's International War Crimes Tribunal on Japanese Military Sexual Slavery" was held by NGO in December 2000, and its final decision was given in December 2001. Although various issues yet remain to be solved with regard to the compensation, measures also should be taken to prevent this issue from recurring.
4. [Ratification to the Optional Protocol to the Convention] The Government of Japan has pronounced that it violates "independence of the judiciary" if the CEDAW makes a decision contrary to the judgment of the Supreme Court of Japan in the procedure based on the Optional Protocol. However, CEDAW's decision will not constitute an issue of "independence of the judiciary", as it will not make the domestic judgment invalid. The Government should identify the practical issues concerning the new communications system of CEDAW in relations to the Japanese judicial system and immediately take necessary measures to ratify the Optional Protocol as soon as possible.
|Article 4 Special Measures not to be Considered Discriminatory|
Article 20 of the Eual Employment Opportunity Law
(the EEOL) rely on the voluntary action of the employer for the implementation
of positive action in the workplace. The law states that the government
may support those employer who chooses to implement the positive action.
However, for example, Gender Equality Ordinance of Kanagawa prefecture
requires all the workplace employing over 300 employees to report the
status of advancement in gender equal actions so that the governor may
order the improvement to those workplaces with unsatisfactory results
on the promotion of gender equality. The EEOL shall also make it an obligation
for the employers to report the status of promotion of gender equality.
|Article 5 Elimination of Gendered-Role based Practices|
|(Please refer to Article13)|
|Article 7 Equality in Political and Public Activities|
Positive action is recognized as a possible measure to redress existing
gender imbalance in the Basic Law for a Gender-Equal Society. However,
it has not been applied in any political field, nor does the Basic Plan
for Gender Equality include any policy or system for the advancement of
women in politics at the National Diet and local assemblies. In addition,
political parties have not been very successful in actively promoting
women's participation in politics.
With the introduction of a non-binding open-list formula into the proportional representation portion of Upper House elections, the ratio of women legislators declined from 17.1% to 15.4% after the Upper House election of 2001.
Each party should actively promote the positive action stipulated in the Basic Law. In addition, a new law for a more balanced representation of women and men in legislation should be formulated.
|Article 10 The Elimination of Discrimination in Education|
The fact that the Japanese report includes no specific description on
measures taken in school education reflects the reality in Japan where
no active efforts have been made in this field. Specific measures based
on gender perspectives such as development of educational materials, studies
of teaching methods, reviews of school management and school events, and
counseling on class choices and career guidance at school have not been
taken. No specific measure has been taken to enable a student to choose
an occupation without being affected by gender-based stereotypes.
2. The government has not shown a clear attitude toward the promotion of coeducation in public senior high schools. Coeducation in Japan was implemented in accordance with Article 5 of the Fundamental Law of Education of 1945. More than fifty years later, all-girls or all-boys public senior high schools still exist in Japan. As stipulated in Article 10 (c) of the Convention, promoting coeducation is necessary in all fields of education in order to eliminate stereotyped ideas on the role of men and women. The revision of the Fundamental Law of Education is now under consideration and the new bill proposed by the government committee does not specify the need of coeducation. Japanese government should further promote "coeducation" with the aim and the intent of the Convention in mind.
|Article 11 The Elimination of Discrimination in Employment|
[Indirect Discrimination] Regarding indirect discrimination, the government
said that a social consensus on its definition has not been formulated
yet and a forum for deliberation would be established in the fiscal year
2002. However, the standard definition of indirect discrimination has
been established internationally and Concluding Comments of the CEDAW
on Japanese reports also pointed out the issue in 1995. The government
should formulate a law or guideline on this matter immediately.
2. [Part-time Work] Since the enactment of the Law Concerning the Improvement of Employment Management, Etc. of Part-Time Workers (here under Part-Time Work Law) in 1993, the wage gap between part-time workers and full-time workers has been expanding. Fixed-term employment has also increased. In other words, the law has not been effective in improving working conditions of part-time workers. While the government considered revising the Part-Time Work Law, the study group of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry only proposed a set of guidelines on the "Japanese-Style Rules of Equal Treatment" (July 2002) which admitted different treatment according to whether overtime work and transfer at the request of employer, among others, had binding effect over an employee, and did not propose a legislation for de facto equal treatment. The government should formulate a law for equal treatment between part-time workers and full-time workers including restrictions on fixed-term employment.
|Article 12 Elimination of Discrimination in Health Care|
|1. Among the teenage population, an upward trend has been observed in the rate of artificial abortion, in the rate of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. The Government should provide practical sex education at school, including how to appropriately use a condom (both male and female condoms), in order to prevent undesired pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, future infertility, and other problems, in the teenage population. In addition, it is necessary to conduct programs to provide information and promote awareness of reproductive health and rights for adults in social and life-long education.|
|Article 13 Elimination of Discrimination in Economic and Social Activities|
[Social Security and Taxation System] There is no reference in the government
report about reforming the current social security and tax system which reward "wives as a dependent of the household", discouraging female to be economically independent. The government is currently examining the issue on pension, however, it is imperative that the government revamp the whole system taking into consideration the similar problem which arise from health insurance and long term care insurance so that these social securities system does not reinforce the gendered roles.
Although the Japanese system imposes tax on income of each individuals, tax
deduction is given to each household unit as a special deduction to those whose spouse have only a limited amount or no income. These deductions that give special consideration for wives (reinforcing the gendered role) must be reconsidered.
|Article 14 Elimination of Discrimination against Rural Women|
|1. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries advocates concluding family business agreements and establishing corporations in family farm management to formally recognize the economic contribution of women in the family. However, issue of wages and salaries which is closely related to a taxation system may not be solved solely among family members but requires a legislative action. Therefore, it is necessary for the government to consider both reforming the taxation system and legislating a family-based joint management.|
|Article 16 Elimination of Discrimination Relating to Marriage and Family Relations|
Although the issues requiring revision of the Civil Code, including minimum
age for marriage (Article 731 of the Civil Code), waiting period required
for women to remarry after divorce (Article 733), and surnames of married
couples (Article 750), have been stated in every periodic report since
the first consideration of Japanese report by the CEDAW, none have been
solved yet. Therefore, an analysis of this prolonged situation is necessary.
Also, now that the issue of family law reform has become a political issue,
issues such as the minimum age for marriage and waiting period required
for women to remarry should be considered separately from the issue of
surnames of married couples, as the former requires redressing de jure
inequality and the latter is necessary to obtain de facto equality.
Although adoption of "exceptional separate-surname system" which allows a couple to use separate surnames only as an exception is currently under discussion among policy makers, public opinion and actual practice are increasingly moving toward supporting "equality". Therefore, statistical data including past survey results should be added to the statistical annex in relation to Article 16 in order to explicitly show the fact that the "optional separate-surname system" (permitting husband and wife to choose to have different surname on a regular basis) is now supported by the majority of the people.
2. [Domestic Violence] It can be commended that Law for the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims and the Child Abuse Prevention Law were enacted and that a significant improvement has been seen in handlings of domestic violence cases since the submission of the fourth periodic report of Japan. It is provided in these laws that they are to be revised in about three (3) years after the enforcement. The points that should be included in revision of Spousal Violence Law are: 1) reinforcement of the emergency protection of victims and their children, 2) support for victims so that they can lead independent lives, and 3) measures targeted at batterers. The important points that should be revised regarding Child Abuse Prevention Law include: 1) reinforcement of the emergency protection of victims and 2) ensuring its practical effectiveness by, for example, suspension of parental authority.