Japan NGO Network for CEDAW (JNNC)


1. NGOネットワーク 山下 (はじめに)
Opening Remarks (JNNC)

Distinguished members of the Pre-session working group of CEDAW and Secretariats, I am Yasuko Yamashita, from Japan.

First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude on behalf of Japanese NGOs for your providing us with the opportunity of an oral presentation at this working group session.

In December 2002, Japanese NGOs, working for the promotion of women's human rights, formed a coalition called Japan NGO Network for CEDAW. More than twenty NGOs will submit their reports before the 29th session begins. Today, 13 representatives of the following 5 organizations have come to NY to participate in the NGO briefing at the Pre-session Working Group of CEDAW.

The member organizations represented are
1. Japanese Association of International Women's Rights
2. Japan Federatin of Bar Associations
3. Working Women's International Network
4. Japan Civil Liberties Union, and
5. International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Japan Committee.
2. JAIWR 渡辺

Japanese Association of International Women's Rights (JAIWR)

I am Miho Watanabe, representing the Japanese Association of International Women's Rights. I would like to bring up six most concerned issues.

Article 2 (Back lash)
First of all, I would like to bring to your attention a backlash against the Basic Law for Gender-Equal society in relations to article 2. The law mandates local municipalities to create ordinance for the implementation of gender equality. However, conservatives are trying to undermine the purpose of the law and a major newspaper has also written in support of this.
It is very difficult for the local municipalities with very small female delegates to change the strongly embedded stereotypical customs and ideas and create gender equal ordinance.
Please ask the Japanese government how it plans to overcome these backlashes so that the local municipalities may establish ordinance which truly reflect the purpose of gender equality.
(Optional Protocol)
Secondly, regarding Article 2, the government states that the reason for the delay in the ratification of the OP is the possibility of violating the "independence of the judiciary".
(However, former CEDAW expert Ms.Taya who was also a public prosecutor has written that the OP will not be a problem in relations to Japanese judicial system, and the Secretariat at the Supreme Courts has said that they were not against the ratification). Therefore, the Government's reasoning does not have a ground.
Please ask the government to explicitly describe the obstacles in ratifying the OP in relations to the Japanese judicial system and to announce necessary practical steps to resolve the issues for immediate ratification.

Article 4 (Temporary Special Measures)
Thirdly, regarding article 4, although the Basic Law for a Gender Equal Society recognize positive action, no action have been made to apply this in political and public sector. I ask for positive action installed to redress the imbalance in the number of politicians, judges and prosecutors, especially ensuring the number of women in higher positions.
And in the private sector, temporary special measures of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law relying on the voluntary action of the employer have not been very much effective.
Please ask the government to make it an obligation in the EEOL to require reporting by the employers so actions can be taken to order improvement where necessary.

Article 10 (Education)
Regarding article 10, government has not taken any measures to establish school curriculum to redress the traditional stereotypical role. In fact, some textbook has been ordered to delete the positive mentioning of diverse family types (incl. different surname couples, single parenthood). Coeducation in senior high schools have also not been achieved. These issues are huge concern for Japanese women which needs urgent actions by the government.

Article 12 (Health)
Regarding the issue of health, there is a strong upward trend in the rate of abortion by teenagers but education lacks to provide them with necessary knowledge. While teenagers are surrounded with commercial sex, conservatives are resisting the necessary sex education. Please strongly urge the government to address measures to effectively educate students with necessary and practical knowledge about their body and sex, and promote awareness to adults with reproductive health and rights.

Article 13 and Article 5
Lastly, the current social security and tax system are set up to reward women who are "wives as dependent of the household" earning low or no income. In other words, government is encouraging women to be stay-at-home mother taking on domestic duties. It is imperative that the government give strong consideration to reconstruct the social security and tax system, so this does not reinforce gender segregated roles.

3. 日弁連 安藤
Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA)

Thank you, distinguished experts of the CEDAW ( for giving us a chance to inform our concerns.)
My name is Yioko Ando. I inform you our observations on behalf of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.

1. Firstly I tell you about interpreting wage statistics in connection with Article 11.
The government has not revealed the gender-based wage difference on the bases of wages that include those of part-time workers. We can not determine the true state of the male-female wage differential because part-time, dispatched and other non-regular workers now account for about one-half of female workers in Japan.
Please ask the government "what are the differences between men's and women's wages including those for part-time and dispatched workers?" "What is the reason that you have not revealed on its reports the gender-based wage difference on the basis of wages that include those of part-time workers?"

2. The second is about elimination of role-based prejudices, and practices, and the media. Related to Article 5
… The government's fourth report only mentions what voluntary actions are taken by employers, but says nothing about specific government measures and budget. The fifth report discusses media only in public information capacity.
Please ask the government about the participation of women in the mass media and measures included government budget taken in connection with elimination of role-based prejudices and practices in it.

3. The third is about the sexual industry in Japan related to Article 6.
The CEDAW concluding observations to Japan in 1995 requested the government to undertake a study of the sex industry in Japan and to provide information on findings in the next report. But the government report gives the results of regulation under related laws, and statistics such as the numbers of arrestees.
Please ask the government, "Is there any documentation on investigations of prostitution and the so-called "adult entertainment business" and on cases involving the sexual exploitation of girls?" "What protective institutions, such as support system to cover medical expenses for emergency are provided for women subject to trafficking or slavery-like practices?" and request to report on measures taken to prevent violence and sexual harassment pending immigration procedures or while being detained."

4. The fourth is about the amendment to the Family law related to Article 16.
The necessity to amend the family law to eliminate the discrimination against women in it is as before. Because public opinion is not divided on the minimum age and the time period during which remarriage is banned. As more people are in favor of a separate surname system than are opposed, there is no reason for not to amend the Civil Code
Please ask the government, "When dose the government intend to revise the Civil Code to eliminate the male-female difference in minimum marriage age, the marriage ban term for divorced women, and the same surnames after a marriage?" "What are the obstacles to do so?"
Furthermore, there is no statement in the report in connection with discrimination against children born out-of-wedlock. As all children entitle to equal protection, the government has taken no action on inheritance discrimination against them as well as in the granting of nationality.
Please ask the government what legislative and administrative measures the Government of Japan has taken to eliminate discrimination against them.

5. The fifth is about the Comfort Women issues.
Both the fourth and fifth reports only mention the Asian Pease and Friendship Fund for Women. The reports also say, "junior high and high school textbooks now have references to this issue", though in 2001 six of the textbooks publishers that had mentioned the "comfort women" removed those references, leaving one publisher still includes the issue.
Please ask "Why dose Japanese Government not determine the truth of the "comfort women" issue, make official apologies, and take steps for compensation and other restitution pursuant to its legal responsibility according to the reports and comments by the related UN bodies?" "What will the government do about this?" (I would like to inform you more but time has passed. Please refer to the paper of the JFBA's observations.)

Thank you.
4. WWN 西村
Working Women's Network (WWN)

My name is Katsumi Nishimura. Since I graduated from high school 37 years ago, I have been working for Sumitomo Electric.
My name is Kinuko Ishida. Since I graduated from high school 40 years ago, I have been working for Sumitomo Chemical.
Ms. Ishida and Ms. Nishimura are suing their employers and the government of Japan for sex discrimination. Ms. Nishimura's statement is going to be read by the translator.

When I started working at Sumitomo Electric, all management positions were reserved for men. When Ms. Ishida took her job at Sumitomo Chemical, its professional training program was officially open to women, but in reality, the application process was made extremely difficult. Women have been told, "We don't want you to be attention hungry. Women should stay behind the frontline of the business and take support roles." The vast majority of women have been kept at clerical positions, while nearly all of our male counterparts have been transferred to management tracks. Today, some of us earn only 60 percent of our male counterparts' salaries. At Sumitomo, the wage gap between women and men with the same number of years of experience can be as high as 250,000 yen per month, which is more than 2,000 US dollars per month. It makes me feel disrespected and humiliated.

In 1994, we submitted a counter report to CEDAW. Later that year, we came to New York to check up on the examination process of our document. The committee members gave us such encouraging remarks that we initiated the lawsuit in the following year.

Five years later, in 2000, the judge acknowledged the following facts:
-There was a wide wage gap between women and men, which was caused by apparent sex discrimination at the time of initial employment.
- All men were hired as future managers, while all women were treated as clerks.
- The treatment of women at Sumitomo violated Article 14 of the National Constitution.
- Despite these facts, our case was completely dismissed.

According to the rulings, women in the 1960s were ineffective workers who would get married and leave their jobs. The employers were guaranteed the right to pursue profit. Therefore, it was not unlawful for them to discriminate against women, who constituted an ineffective workforce. Women received lower wages because they were hired as clerks. The wage difference had to do with job category, as opposed to gender.

Our immediate appeal is currently pending. According to the trial document the Japanese government submitted last November, CEDAW does not mandate immediate eradication of all forms of discrimination. It also states that CEDAW is not supposed to be retroactive, even if women and men had been treated unequally in the past.

The Japanese government has denied our constitutional rights and ignored CEDAW in its attempt to protect what it calls the social norm. It justifies corporate practices that keep women at lower-wage positions. It ignores ILO Convention No.111. In the justice system, archaic gender biases are still rampant.

We appeal for the appropriate implementation of CEDAW, which prohibits both direct and indirect forms of discrimination against women. For the upcoming examination in July, we have compiled some questions that we urge you to ask the Japanese government, so please read them. We believe the questions will help you grasp the reality of sex discrimination in our country.

Please help us win this suit, for the benefit of all working women in Japan.

Thank you.
5. JCLU 斎藤(文)
Japan Civil Liberties Union (JCLU)

I am Fumie Saito, a delegate of the Japan Civil Liberties Union, called JCLU.

I would like to mention three specific issues.

1) The first is the framework of a new human rights remedy system introduced by the Human Rights Protection Bill.
The Basic Law for a Gender-Equal Society urges the state to take necessary measures for handling complaints and the Japanese Government submitted its bill to the Diet last year; however, the new mechanism is not only inconsistent with the UN Paris Principle but also raises several questions in its effectiveness.
The major problem is its independency. The National Human Rights Commission, a new human rights remedy system, will be placed under the control of the Justice Ministry. It is uncertain that the government is able to maintain the Commission's independency. In addition, the bill disregards most of human rights infringements by public authorities, and also put any governmental policies out of the range of remedies by the Commission. With having these problems and being criticized by NGOs and opposition parties, its deliberation has been postponed.
I believe that the bill be withdrawn and be amended drastically.

2) The second is the issues concerning discriminatory remarks and sexual harassment in public domains, and women's low participation to the public sector.
The reports on discriminatory remarks by high rank government officials were already made at the review session of the very first Japanese Government's report of 1988. Since then, such remarks has constantly made and not yet ended in Japan.
The most controversial remarks in recent years was made by the Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara. He inferred "the old women who have lost their reproductive function are not worth living."
Several months before this remark, the Committee on the Elimination of the Racial Discrimination (CERD) expressed its concern regarding other discriminatory statements in reference to Governor Ishihara to the Japanese Government. Despite of this, the government had not taken any actions against him and he has repeatedly made discriminatory remarks.
Unfortunately, Governor Ishihara is not the only one making such discriminatory statements in the public domain, especially in both local and national assemblies.
I propose that the Japanese Government should be fully aware of discriminatory acts and statements, committed and made by public authorities and institutions, and take necessary actions. The government should also give an appropriate training in place to prevent further recurrence.
It is very important, concerning the Human Rights Commission mentioned before, that the government truly regulate discriminatory remarks and acts. Since the government is reluctant to take any countermeasures, the National Human Rights Commission would not work effectively within the framework of the administrative body.
The discriminatory settings have contributed to the women's low participation to political and public sector. In 2001, the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee expressed its concern about widespread discrimination against women in professional and decision-making positions of Japan. Having that Observation, the Japanese Government merely reports the statistics of women's participation. No analysis was made to explain the background and no concrete plans have been shown how to improve the status of women.

3) Finally, the issue on the introduction of Male Midwives in terms of discrimination in Health Care.
The "midwife" title was changed to "mid-person" by amending legislation in 2001, and the government reports seems to have taken its change affirmative from the viewpoint of gender equality. However, I am worried that it leads to the introduction of male midwives in near future.
In recently Japan, the concept of "care by the same gender" in caring for the handicapped and the aged came to be respected. It is acknowledged that the care of men by men, and the care of women by women, is indispensable for the protection of privacy and dignity of those receiving care.
Midwives closely attend expectant mothers over long hours before and after delivery, caring for the genitals. The need for care by the same gender for expectant mothers is as important as the handicapped and the aged.
However, a midwives professional organization, the Japan Midwives' Association, suddenly changed its policy in support of the introduction of male midwives ignoring the voices of an overwhelming majority of midwives and women.
The Japanese Government should take measures to ensure privacy of and the right to choose of expectant mothers.

Thank you.
6. IMADR-JC 斎藤(文)
International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Japan Committee(IMADR-JC)

I am Fumie Saito, a member of the International Movement against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, (IMADR). On behalf of IMADR, Japan Committee, I would like to address perspective of multiple discriminations against minority women living in Japan.

In the periodical report, the government is supposed to present its general view on the situation of all women in its territory; however, the Japanese Government does not include the situation of non-Japanese women and other minority women such as Buraku people, Ainu people and Okinawans.
The Japanese Government should be aware of the necessity of reporting the realities of and measures taken to minority women.

In order to grasp the realities that minority women face, I would like to propose the Japanese Government should take initiative in gathering data and conducting research on minority women. The perspective of minority women, especially the intersection of gender and race, should be concerned in all data gathering, research and analysis.
In the process of designing and implementing the policies and measures to mitigate their obstacles and to provide support and services that meet their needs, needless to say, the government should ensure the effective participation of minority women, for example, by recruiting them into the national and municipal councils.

Lastly I recommend that the Japanese Government should prepare a report that contains socio-economic data disaggregated by gender and national/ethnic groups and information on measures taken to prevent gender-related racial discrimination, including sexual exploitation and violence.
This point was also recommended in the Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to Japan in 2001. A good coordination between CEDAW and CERD was stressed out in the World Conference against Racism held in Durban. The Conference confirms that the State parties of CEDAW should be committed to achieve intervention to prevent all forms of discrimination against women, including preventing such discrimination in the context of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
In order to include the concept of multiple discriminations into policies, I need a strong pressure toward the Japanese Government from CEDAW.

Thank you.
7. NGOネットワーク 山下 (おわりに)
Closing Remarks (JNNC)

In Japan we recognize the importance of the CEDAW Convention and would like to promote women's status by means of the Convention.

While we hope that a constructive and effective dialogue will take place between the government of Japan and the Committee, the Japanese NGOs will also try to establish a dialogue with our government before and after CEDAW's consideration.

We thank you again for giving us this opportunity. We hope that the Committee will find useful information in the presentation we have made today.

Thank you for your attention.


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