Japan: CEDAW call for the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous and minority women
Date : 2016.03.08
At the consideration of periodic reports of Japan on 16th February, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) expressed concern on the situation of indigenous and minority women such as Ainu, Buraku and Zainichi Korean women, especially their participation in public and political life as well as limited access to health, education and employment. It was also concerned by multiple/ intersecting forms of discrimination against these women including hate speech and violence.
Against this backdrop, the Committee issued nine recommendations to Japan in order to protect and promote the rights of indigenous and minority women in its concluding observations . Two recommendations on sexist/ racist speech and propaganda and negative stereotypes and prejudices against Ainu, Buraku, Zainichi Korean women and migrant women are chosen as follow-up recommendations.
NGO joint report “Situations and Challenges of Minority Women in Japan” for the 63rd session of CEDAW.
= = = Concluding observations concerning indigenous and minority women = = =
Discriminatory laws and lack of legal protection
12. The Committee regrets that its previous recommendations regarding existing discriminatory provisions have not been addressed. The Committee is particularly concerned that:
(e) There is no comprehensive anti-discrimination law that covers inter-sectional discrimination against women belonging to various minority groups who are frequently subjected to harassment, stigmatization and violence.
13. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendations (CEDAW/C/JPN/CO/5) and (CEDAW/C/JPN/CO/6) and urges the State party to, without delay:
(c) Enact comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that prohibits multiple/intersectional forms of discrimination against women belonging to various minority groups, and protect them from harassment and violence, in line with General Recommendation No. 28 (2010) on core obligations of States parties.
Temporary special measures
18. The Committee notes the State party’s efforts to introduce numerical targets under the Third and Fourth Basic Plan on Gender Equality in order to accelerate de facto equality between men and women. The Committee is, however, concerned at the lack of statutory temporary special measures, including quotas, to address the under-representation of women, including ethnic and other minority women, in decision-making positions in the public and private sectors, as well as in political life, especially in Parliament. The Committee is particularly concerned that rather than statutory quotas, the State party continues to use less effective voluntary initiatives and other incentives such as higher evaluations for companies during the bidding process for public procurement.
19. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (CEDAW/C/JPN/CO/6, para. 28) and calls upon the State party to consider using temporary special measures, such as statutory quotas, in accordance with article 4 (1) of the Convention and the Committee’s General Recommendation No. 25 (2004) on temporary special measures, as a necessary strategy to accelerate the achievement of substantive equality of women and men, in particular to enhance the rights of ethnic and other minority and indigenous women, and women with disabilities, in all areas of the Convention.
Stereotypes and harmful practices
20. The Committee remains concerned at the persistence of patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and in society. The Committee is particularly concerned that:
(d) Sexist speech continues to be directed against women, ethnic and other minority women such as the Ainu, Buraku and Zainichi Korean women and migrant women.
21. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (CEDAW/C/JPN/CO/6, para. 30) and urges the State party to:
(d) Adopt legislation to prohibit and sanction sexist speech and propaganda advocating racial superiority or hatred, including attacks on ethnic and other minority women such as the Ainu, Buraku and Zainichi Korean women as well as migrant women; and *follow-up recommendation
(e) Regularly monitor and assess the impact, through an independent expert body, of measures taken to eliminate discriminatory gender stereotypes and prejudices against Ainu, Buraku, Zainichi Korean women and migrant women. *follow-up recommendation
Violence against women
22. The Committee notes that the Ministry of Justice established a committee to review the Penal Code in order to address various issues including (a) the narrow definition of the crime of rape, which only applies to vagina-penal penetration; (b) raising the low penalties for sex crimes; (c) the adoption of legal provisions explicitly criminalizing marital rape and (d) the introduction of ex officio prosecution of sex crimes. The Committee is, however, concerned that the Ministry of Justice’s committee that reviewed the Penal Code did not consider it necessary to explicitly criminalize marital rape. It is also concerned that the age of sexual consent remains 13 years and that the minimum penalty for statutory rape is only 3 years’ imprisonment. The Committee is further concerned at:
(c) Information that migrant women, ethnic and other minorities, and women with disabilities who are victims of violence, including domestic violence, are reluctant to report cases to the authorities, and that migrant women, in particular, fail to do so due to the risk of having their residence status revoked, as they are required to provide “justifiable reasons” for protection under the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act ; and
Participation in political and public life
30. The Committee notes the State party’s efforts to promote the participation of women in political and public life by adopting the Third and Fourth Basic Plan on Gender Equality, which sets numerical targets and a specific goal to achieve 30% representation of women in political, public and private life by 2020. The Committee, however, remains concerned at:
(c) The under- representation of women with disabilities, ethnic and other minority women such as Ainu, Buraku and Zainichi Korean women in decision making positions.
31. The Committee reiterates its previous recommendation (CEDAW/C/JPN/CO/6, para. 42) and calls upon the State party to:
(c) Take specific measures, including temporary special measures, to promote the representation of women with disabilities, ethnic and other minority women such as Ainu, Buraku and Zainichi Korean women in decision making positions.
32. The Committee commends the State party for prioritising equal access for women and girls to all levels of education and the increase in girls’ participation in primary and secondary education. The Committee is, however, concerned at:
(e) Reports of low literacy levels among ethnic and other minority communities, in particular, older women from the Ainu and Buraku ethnic communities; and
(f) The lack of data on the educational status of migrant women and women with disabilities as well as lack of information on measures to address bullying and expressions of racist sentiments in schools, particularly targeting Zainichi Korean women and girls.
33. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(d) Remove all obstacles to access to education for women and girls with disabilities, migrant women and ethnic and other minority women such as the Ainu, Buraku and Zainichi Korean women; and provide information in the next periodic report on their access to education as well as to scholarships; and
(e) Enhance measures to prevent, punish and eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls, including bullying and expressions of racist sentiments, in educational institutions, particularly targeting Zainichi Korean women and girls.
34. The Committee welcomes the adoption of the “Act on Promotion of Women’s Participation and Advancement in the Workplace” in 2015, which seeks to empower women in employment, including non-regular workers, ethnic and other minorities. However, the Committee remains concerned at:
(e) The persistence of multiple/intersectional forms of discrimination in the employment sector with regard to indigenous women, minority and other women (Buraku, Korean, Okinawa), women with disabilities and migrant women workers; and
35. The Committee urges the State party to:
(e) Undertake a survey of the employment sector and produce gender statistics with regard, in particular to indigenous and minority women as well as women with disabilities and migrant women workers;
Disadvantaged groups of women
46. The Committee is concerned at reports that indigenous and ethnic minority, such as Ainu, Buraku and Zainichi Korean women, as well as other women such as women with disabilities, LBT women and migrant women continue to experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. The Committee is particularly concerned that these women continue to have limited access to health, education and employment.
47. The Committee calls upon the State party to vigorously pursue efforts aimed at eliminating multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination experienced by indigenous and ethnic minority women such as Ainu, Buraku and Zainichi Korean women, as well as women with disabilities, LBT women and migrant women which affect their access to health, education, employment and participation in public life, as well as in their experiences with the health and education services and at the workplace.
Follow-up to concluding observations
55. The Committee requests the State party to provide, within two years, written information on the steps undertaken to implement the recommendations contained in paragraphs 13(a) and 21(d)& (e) above.