Success story - Japan
Governments are often not doing enough to combat racism and racial inequality. For this reason, the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, based in Japan, sought the help of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which ensures that States uphold their international obligations. See this success story about how CERD paved the way forward by denouncing laws and policies that are racially discriminatory.
When the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued its findings on Japan in August 2014, Megumi Komori and her colleagues in Japan’s national network of NGOs sprang into action.
“We immediately organised a press conference as the issue of racial discrimination against communities is seldom covered by the media. We also organised a meeting with members of parliament and also one with representatives of foreign embassies in Tokyo,” says Megumi of the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR).
“Hate speech in Japan is often aimed at the Korean community. They face humiliating remarks, comments like ‘you are not human’ and ‘go back to your country’. But many Japanese people don’t want to know anything about this,” Megumi adds.
“The wide coverage of CERD’s strong recommendations regarding racist hate speech has had an impact on lawmakers and local councils. Combined with lobbying by civil society, so far 217 local councils have backed a statement calling for the adoption of measures against hate speech,” she says.
A bill to eliminate racial discrimination, including harassment and hate speech, is still being considered by the Japanese parliament. But Megumi stresses that participating in the CERD review process gives NGOs and civil society groups important advocacy tools.
“Unlike the last review in 2010, this time the media and the general public paid more attention to the recommendations. The frequent quoting of the findings in media and on social media has led to CERD and its work being more widely known than before – even among racist groups,” she adds.