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Statements Special Procedures
31 March 2010
31 March 2010
TOKYO - The UN expert on migrants’ human rights on Wednesday praised Japan for some of the measures it has taken to alleviate the impact of the economic crisis on migrants, but, based on information provided by civil society, he noted that it is still facing a range of challenges, including racism and discrimination, exploitation, a tendency by the judiciary and police to ignore their rights and the overall lack of a comprehensive immigration policy that incorporates human rights protection.
UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Mr. Jorge Bustamante, was speaking at the end of a nine-day visit to Japan, conducted at the invitation of the Government in order to observe and report on the human rights situation of migrants in the country.
In Tokyo, Nagoya, Toyota and Hamamatsu, the Special Rapporteur met with Ministers, officials of central and local governments, international organizations, lawyers, school teachers, academics, members of civil society organizations, as well as migrant women and men and their children. He also visited the East Japan Detention Center, foreign schools and met with migrants’ associations. The Special Rapporteur expressed appreciation to the Government for its cooperation as well as to various organizations that provided support for his mission, in particular the International Organization for Migration and civil society.
The Special Rapporteur noted the Government’s efforts to address the seriousness of some of the human rights problems faced by migrant workers, in particular in the aftermath of the economic crisis. He cited, as positive examples, the launch of an emergency programme to teach the Japanese language to those migrant children who had to leave foreign private schools to attend Japanese free public schools as a result of the financial crisis, and the provision of financial support to some foreign schools recognized by the local Governments, saying these were “noteworthy measures to work towards realizing the right to education for migrant children.”
Mr. Bustamante said he had also learnt of some interesting programmes at the local level: these included placing interpreters subsidized by the national public employment agencies, and establishing funds (for example in Aichi prefecture) to which companies contribute in order to pay for Japanese lessons for their migrant workers and their children. The creation of the Council of Cities with High Concentration of Foreign Residents, a forum where 27 municipalities gather to discuss how to better address the needs of migrants, is also a positive initiative, he said.
Nevertheless, the Special Rapporteur said, many challenges still need to be addressed by the Government in order to protect the human rights of migrants and their children. He listed some of the most important, along with some preliminary recommendations on how to improve the situation:
The report of the Special Rapporteur’s visit to Japan will be submitted to the United Nations' Human Rights Council later in the year.