2017年11月17日金曜日

Joint Press Release: Japan must respond to the recommendations and act to end human rights violations in Okinawa


PRESS RELEASE

Japan must respond to the UPR recommendations and act to end human rights violations in Okinawa 

17th November 2017

The Government of Japan must show its commitment to human rights at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and take measures to improve the human rights situation in the country. All Okinawa Council for Human Rights (AOCHR), the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) and Franciscans International urge the Government of Japan to end human rights violations in Okinawa and fully consult with people of Ryukyu/Okinawa based on the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). 

Japan has entered the third cycle of the UPR in 2017 to review the implementation of the previous UPR recommendations and address outstanding human rights issues. On the 14th of November, the Government of Japan presented its report to introduce adopted measures based upon the previous recommendations. In total, 106 countries took the floor to put forward questions and/or recommendations to the Government. In the outcome report adopted on the 16th of November, the Government of Japan received recommendations urging Japan to create an independent National Human Rights Institution, combat hate speech, and protect and promote indigenous rights.

We welcome the Government’s continued commitment to the UPR process. However, we are deeply concerned by the Government’s failure to respond to Peru which recommended the promotion of economic, social and cultural rights for the people of Ryukyu/Okinawa. During the review, two other key concerns were raised regarding the absence of a holistic anti-discrimination law and the freedom of expression. 

It must be noted that the UN Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) have also expressed similar concerns regarding the situation of the people of Ryukyu/Okinawa and made recommendations to the Government of Japan. In this session, Germany, Australia and ten other States recommended the adoption of a comprehensive anti-discrimination law. Therefore, we urge the Government of Japan to adopt legislation which also prohibits discrimination based on ethnic identity including the people of Ryukyu/Okinawa. Regarding freedom of expression in Okinawa, Mr. David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, shared his concern about the allegation of disproportionate restrictions on public protests in Okinawa. These concerns were detailed in his country report on Japan which was presented to the Human Rights Council in June this year. 

We regret that the Government failed to take any effective measures against serious human rights violations caused by the existing U.S. military bases in Okinawa, which hosts more than 70 percent of the U.S military facilities in Japan. A string of incidents involving the U.S. military, including the latest crash-landing of a large Marine Corps helicopter and the rape and killing of a local 20-year-old woman by a former U.S. Marine, highlight that the right to life, as well as the right to physical and mental health of the residents, have been severely infringed. We are deeply concerned that the construction of the new U.S. bases is causing even more severe human rights violations.

As a Member State of the UN Human Rights Council, the Government of Japan has declared that it will uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights. The Government must take concrete steps towards preventing serious human rights violations in Okinawa by genuinely consulting with civil society to improve the country’s human rights standards. 

Finally, we urge the Government of Japan to accept the recommendation from Peru, to take effective measures to realize the economic, social and cultural rights of the people of Ryukyu/Okinawa and to end the human rights violations in Okinawa. We request that the Government ensure meaningful cooperation with the people of Ryukyu/Okinawa.

The end.

2017年10月12日木曜日

AOCHR is on UPR presession

Universal Periodic Review on Japan is scheduled to start on 10:30 am (05:30 pm JST) today.
AOCHR is one of five Japanese NGO to make oral statement (briefing of one's reports submitted in April). 
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AOCHR Statement

AOCHR Presentation

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I am speaking on behalf of All Okinawa Council for Human Rights. We are an independent non-profit research group to document the continuing violation of human rights in Okinawa.

There are four statements I would like to talk about.  
     (1)The rights of the people of Ryukyu/Okinawa as indigenous people
     (2) Infringement of freedom of peaceful assembly and expression
     (3) Sexual assaults targeting women committed by U.S military members
     (4) Infringement of the right to life, and physical and mental health

First, I would like to talk about the rights of the people of Ryukyu/Okinawa as indigenous people.

The concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee on Japan’s fifth periodic report clearly states that “the State party should expressly recognize the Ainu and Ryukyu/Okinawa as indigenous peoples in domestic legislation and adopt special measures to protect, preserve and promote their cultural heritage and traditional way of life, and recognize their land rights”. [1]

In addition, in its concluding observations on the reports of Japan, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) "expresses its concern about the persistent discrimination suffered by the people of Okinawa. The disproportionate concentration of military bases in Okinawa has a negative impact on residents’ ‘enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights."[2]

However, the Government of Japan refuses to recognize the people of Okinawa as indigenous people, and does not acknowledge their rights to land and natural resources. They do not give any special protection to them either. On the contrary, the Government of Japan forcibly continued with the construction of a new U.S. military base at Henoko, in the northern part of Okinawa,

The Governments of Japan and the United States made the decision without guaranteeing any effective participation of the people of Okinawa, completely ignoring the will of the local people and Okinawa Prefecture and all rights to engage in free, prior and informed consent.

These are four recommendations we would like to have your support for.

Infringement of freedom of peaceful assembly and expression

Despite the strong protest of local Okinawan people, the Government of Japan is pushing the construction of a new military base at Henoko forward. On a daily basis, the police, the riot police, and the Japan Coast Guard violently repress the peaceful protest at Henoko. They forcibly evacuate peaceful protesters. There have been incidents of interference and forcible removal of journalists reporting the protest activities.

Mr. David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, shared his concern on the allegation of disproportionate restriction on public protest in Okinawa in his country report on Japan presented to the Human Rights Council in June this year. [3]
    
A notable example of disproportionate restriction is the case of Mr. Hiroji Yamashiro, a prominent Okinawan human rights defender. He was arrested multiple times on minor charges during base protest activities. He had been detained for five months under highly restrictive conditions without trial. He has been released from custody, but the Special Rapporteur expressed his concern that this government action could chill expression and particularly public protest and dissent.

Although the protestors’ freedom of expression and assembly were violated, the Government has not conducted any investigation, provided any compensation, or taken any action to address these human rights violations. They have not even made any effort to prevent further incidents.

These are the recommendations we would like to have your support for.

Sexual assaults targeting women committed by U.S military members

Since 1945, sexual assault cases targeting women have been committed and continued to threaten the safety of the women in Okinawa. In 1995, a sixth-grade girl was abducted and raped by three U.S military members. In May of 2016, a former U.S. military man raped, killed, and abandoned the body of a 20-year-old Okinawan woman.

Since the recovery of Okinawa from U.S. Occupation (1972) until 2015, there were nearly 6,000 crimes committed by United States military personnel, 129 of which were rape cases. However, as these numbers only include cases in which the assailant was officially placed under arrest, it is believed that the actual number of such cases is much larger. The existence of actual sexual assault and rape cases can be clearly established by looking at the survey responses of countless local women.

This is the recommendation we would like to have your support for.

Conduct a factual investigation of sexual assaults targeting women living in Okinawa committed by U.S military members.

Infringement of the right to life, and physical and mental health

Residents living around U.S military bases have severely suffered from excessive noise from aircrafts conducting training drills over the residential areas. Especially night time flight training has caused serious sleep disorders among residence including children.

Local residents filed a series of lawsuits against the Government of Japan. The rulings have confirmed the illegality of the excessive noise however, their requests to halt the night time operations of U.S. military aircraft have been all rejected.

The court ruling the lawsuit also recognized that the frequency of aircraft crashes and accidents has resulted in psychological distress among residents. Operations of the U.S. military bases have threatened and endangered the life and safety of the people of Okinawa.   A U.S military helicopter crashed onto the campus of a University located next to a U.S military base in 2004 and U.S military aircraft Osprey crashed offshore of Nago city in 2016. Yesterday, a U.S military helicopter crushed into a village in the northern part of Okinawa.

However, despite the fact that local residents have been forced to live with such fear and excessive noise, the Government of Japan has not taken any effective measures to ensure the right to physical and mental health.

This is the recommendation we would like to have you support for.

Take measures to ensure the right to physical and mental health without discrimination.





[1] CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5 18 December 2008, available at https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/646529/files/CCPR_C_JPN_CO_5-EN.pdf
[2] CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6 (06 Apr 2010), available at  http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CERD%2FC%2FJPN%2FCO%2F3-6&Lang=en
[3] A/HRC/35/22/Add.1, available at http://imadr.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/A_HRC_35_22_Add.1_AUV_Report-of-SR-on-freedom-of-opinion-and-expression-on-his-mission-to-Japan.pdf

2017年10月11日水曜日

Okinawa in Summary of Stakeholders' submissions on Japan

The summary of Stakeholders' submissions on Japan for UPR Japan session is now open to public.

Among 73 paragraphs, issues related to Ryukyu/Okinawa are mentioned in 7 paragraphs, which are excerpted below.

Document by the Government of Japan is also open now.

*********************

1. Cross cutting issues

Development, the environment, and business and human rights

19. JS7 observed a misuse or abuse of budget formulation authority and was concerned that the government budget plan for Fiscal Year 2017 had a substantial reduction of about 6% for Ryukyu/Okinawa's development, compared with the initial budget for Fiscal Year 2016.

2. Civil and Political Rights

Fundamental freedoms and the right to participate in public and political life

26. HRN was concerned about the attempted state control of media and journalism, that may impact its independence through suggestions that it could revoke licenses based on Article 4 of the Broadcast Act, which called on broadcasters to be politically neutral and not distort facts. It urged refraining from misapplying the Act and reviewing the Specially Designated Secrets Act “SDA”. JS2 noted interference and forcible removal of journalists reporting the protest activities in Henoko and Takae and recommended Japan to guarantee the independence of media and press freedom including through conducting human rights training for law enforcement officers. JS2 was concerned the Japanese police used oppressive and violent measures against protesters and encouraged Japan to ensure and guarantee the freedom of peaceful assembly and expression particularly in Okinawa.

3. Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Right to health

41. JS2 and JS14 were concerned that the United States (U.S.) military bases continued to cause grave health, environmental and social problems in Okinawa including “noise pollution”, aircraft related accidents, and land contamination. JS14 urged Japan to: conduct a survey on the safety of residents; to take effective measures, including the creation of “clear zones” at Futenma to protect and remedy the damage inflicted upon the local people; to approve on-site inspections in third country bases and training areas by the local government and civil society; to enact legal amendments necessary to protect the right of local residents to access water sources free from contamination; to conduct full-scale investigation of possible consequences of water contamination caused by constructing Self- Defense Forces (SDF) bases in the Miyako Islands and to publicize all findings.

Right to education

43. ACSILs called for inclusion of references to the historical existence of Lew Chew as an independent nation in textbooks. JS7 and JS11 were concerned that education textbooks did not adequately reflect the history and culture of the Ryūkyūans, urging the government to provide appropriate opportunities to receive education in the language of Ryukyu/Okinawa. JS7 recommended establishing an independent mechanism to monitor contemporary forms of discrimination against the people of Ryukyu/Okinawa.

4. Rights of specific persons or groups

Women

47. JS12 noted that the number of U.S. military personnel in Okinawa was 68.4% of the total of the U.S. Forces in Japan. It was concerned that since the arrival of the Forces in 1945, sexual assault cases targeting women had not stopped and continued to threaten the safety of the women of Okinawa. It requested Japan to conduct a factual investigation and announce results on the exact measures taken by U.S. Forces in a transparent way, particularly those in Okinawa, similar to the reform made to the Bonn Agreement to allow the appropriate country's police to carry out a proper investigation on behalf of the victims of sexual assaults committed by American military personnel.

Minorities and indigenous peoples

60. AIPR, JS2, JS7 and JS11 were concerned Japan had neither recognized Ryukyuans as an indigenous people, nor taken measures to protect their traditional culture, history and language, JS2, JS7 and JS14 urged Japan to recognize the people of Ryukyu/Okinawa as indigenous people, and to take concrete measures to protect their rights to their traditional land and natural resources, ensuring respect for their right to engage in free, prior and informed consent in policies that affect them.

65. JS11 noted Japan voted in favor of adopting the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but did not recognize the unconditional right to self- determination. JS14 and ACSILs were concerned that the Government is constructing new bases and facilities for the U.S. military and its SDF, despite local opposition. The construction of this new air base in Henoko and “helipads” for MV-22 Osprey aircraft in Takae in northern Okinawa Island impacted both the people living in those areas and the biodiversity-rich environment. The construction could also jeopardize the northern part of Okinawa Island’s bid for UNESCO’s World Natural Heritage status. They recommended to stop immediately the construction and start the immediate demilitarization and decolonization of Lew Chew.

2017年7月8日土曜日

Hiroji Yamashiro: "The Fight Against US Bases on Okinawa"

Press Conference at the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Japan

Hiroji Yamashiro: "The Fight Against US Bases on Okinawa" (YouTube)

June 23, 2017


Media Coverage

In relations with the “Anti-Conspiracy” bill, the article mentions Mr. Kaye's concerns over "a worsening environment for freedom of expression" in Japan and Mr. Yamashiro's arbitrary arrest and detention in Okinawa.

NEW LAW SPARKS FEARS OF DOWNWARD SPIRAL IN CIVIC FREEDOMS
FRIDAY 7.7.2017 CIVICUS


2017年6月22日木曜日

Summary of the UNHRC Side Event on "Freedom of Expression in Okinawa" (June 16, 2017)



IMADR wrote this summary of the UNHRC side event on "Freedom of Expression in Okinawa."

“Open space for protest must be created in Okinawa”, collective voice to Japan (16 June 2017)



Oral Statement by Hiromi Yamashiro (June 15, 2017)

 

Hiromi Yamashiro addressed infringements on Okinawans’ rights at UN Human Rights Council on 15 June. Here is his oral statement.

*******

Thank you Mr. President.

I am Hiroji Yamashiro. I lead the peaceful protest movement against human rights violations by the U.S. military bases in Okinawa, Japan.

The Governments of Japan and the U.S. are building military bases in Okinawa despite the strong opposition from Okinawan people.

Civilians are protesting the militarization everyday.

The Government of Japan dispatched large police forces in Okinawa to oppress and violently remove those civilians.

In the protest, I was arrested for a minor offence, followed by two retroactive arrests. I was detained for 5 months. I was not allowed to see anyone except lawyers. Not even my family. I was forced to confess and give up the protest activity. These are the clear human rights violations by the authorities.

However I and Okinawan people will never bow to oppression.

I demand the Government of Japan to stop human rights violations, and respect the Okinawan people’s will against the construction of new U.S. and Japanese military bases.

Thank you Mr. President

*******

Organisations1:
Franciscans International
International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
All Okinawa Council for Human Rights, NGO without consultative status, also shares the views expressed in this statement.