Japan – Policy coherence
Chapter 1. Towards the Formulation of the National Action Plan (NAP) (Background and Working Process)
1. Introduction: Increasing International Attention to Business and Human Rights and the Need for NAPs
- Nevertheless, further efforts are required, considering the current increasing social demands regarding business and human rights. Against this background, the Government launched Japan’s National Action Plan (NAP) on Business and Human Rights. By arranging various legislative measures and policies contributing to the protection of human rights that were implemented individually by the relevant ministries and agencies, from the perspective of the business and human rights principles, the Government endeavors to contribute to the promotion of shared recognition and understanding among the relevant ministries and agencies, to enhance cooperation among the relevant ministries and agencies, and to ensure interministerial policy coherence. Through the wide publication of the NAP, the Government aims to enhance business enterprises’ understanding and awareness of business and human rights and to promote more efforts and cooperation by and among business enterprises. Through these measures, the Government expects to promote responsible business activities; contribute to the protection and promotion of human rights for society as a whole, including international society; enhance trust in and the reputation of Japanese business enterprises; and contribute to ensuring and enhancing the international competitiveness and sustainability of Japanese business enterprises.
3. Objectives to be Achieved through the Launch and Implementation of the NAP
As stated in Section 1 “Introduction: Increasing International Attention to Business and Human Rights and the Need for NAPs,” the Government endeavors to promote shared recognition and understanding among the relevant ministries and agencies, to ensure inter-ministerial policy coherence, and to enhance cooperation. Through the wide publication of the NAP, the Government aims to enhance business enterprises’ understanding and awareness of business and human rights, and to promote more efforts and cooperation by and among business enterprises. Through these measures, the Government aims to promote responsible business activities; contribute to the protection and promotion of human rights for society as a whole, including international society; and enhance trust in and the reputation of Japanese business enterprises while contributing to ensuring and enhancing their international competitiveness and sustainability. Further details are provided below.
（2）To ensure policy coherence in relation to business and human rights
With society placing increasing emphasis on business and human rights, business enterprises are required to ensure that their business activities comply with relevant laws and regulations. At the same time, the Government places emphasis on endeavoring to further improve the effectiveness of policies by ensuring coherence of relevant policies and enhancing inter-ministerial cooperation. In relation to this, the NAP aims to clarify relevant laws, regulations, policies, and future measures planned to promote inter-ministerial cooperation.
Chapter 2. Action Plan
1. Fundamental Principles of the NAP
(2) In promoting understanding and awareness of business and human rights among government ministries and agencies, government-related entities, and local public entities, it is important to ensure coherence of legislation and policies and to enhance inter-ministerial cooperation.
2. Areas of the NAP
(2) Measures of the Government as an Actor regarding State Duty to Protect Human Rights
C. Promotion and Expansion of the Business and Human Rights Agenda in the International Community
(Existing framework/Measures taken）
Considering the Government fundamentally values the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights that are universal values, the Government has engaged in the implementation of international human rights treaties at national level. The Government has actively participated in activities and discussions at the HRC and international human rights treaty bodies, contributed to the protection and promotion of human rights in the international community such as the UN human rights mechanisms, and moreover, engaged in human rights dialogue with several countries. In the areas directly related to business activities, the Government has incorporated clauses concerning social issues, including labour and the environment in some of the EPAs and investment treaties that Japan has signed or ratified in a manner consistent with trade rules such as those of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and promoted shared understanding between signatories on values to be respected, such as securing appropriate labour standards and conditions and protection of the environment. For example, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP11 Agreement) includes an independent Labour Chapter and Environment Chapter as well as provisions on women’s participation, and the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) includes a Trade and Sustainable Development Chapter. On top of this, the Japan-EU EPA also stipulates that the parties shall convene joint dialogue with civil society, establishing that civil society shall play a certain role through exchange of opinions on themes such as trade and sustainable development, the environment, and labour.
(Future measures planned)
(a）Work towards promoting implementation of the UNGPs in the international community through discussion at UN human rights mechanisms such as the HRC [Ministry of Foreign Affairs]
(b） Boost efforts to promote business and human rights through human rights dialogue with other governments [Ministry of Foreign Affairs]
(c） Continue to contribute to discussions regarding relations between economic activities and social issues, at international forums, including international organizations such as the OECD and the World Bank [Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry]
(d）Continue to make efforts towards concluding EPAs and investment agreements that benefit not only industry but also a wide range of people, including workers [Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry]
(e）Periodically continue joint dialogue with civil society under the Japan-EU EPA (first dialogue held in January 2020) [Ministry of Foreign Affairs]