Japan – Workers’ rights

Chapter 2. Action Plan

2. Areas of the NAP

(1) Cross-cutting areas

A. Labour (Promotion of Decent Work)

(Existing framework/Measures taken)

As measures that have already been conducted in the labour area, the Government made efforts to realize decent work by promoting labour policies to respect, promote, and realize the four principles concerning the fundamental rights stated in the ILO Declaration, namely: (1) freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; (2) the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; (3) the effective abolition of child labour; and (4) the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. For example, protection and promotion of the rights of workers are promoted through labour related legislation applicable to workers regardless of nationality, race, and ethnicity such as: the Labour Standards Act (Act No. 49 of 1947); the Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act (Act No. 50 of 1947); the Act on Securing, Etc. of Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment (Equal Employment Opportunity Act) (Act No. 113 of 1972); and the Mariners Act (Act No. 100 of 1947).

More recently, the revision of laws, including the Act on the Comprehensive Promotion of Labour Policies, and the Employment Security and the Productive Working Lives of Workers (Labour Policies Comprehensive Promotion Act) (Act No. 132 of 1966) in 2019 has resulted in new requirements for employers to establish necessary measures regarding employment management, such as the provision of counseling services, to prevent the abuse of authority, or so-called “power harassment,” in the workplace. The revision of these laws has also strengthened preventive measures against sexual harassment, such as the prohibition of disadvantageous treatment by an employer against employees who report.

Along with globalization, increasing attention has been brought to the treatment of foreign workers. Appropriate implementation of the Technical Intern Training Program and protection of technical intern trainees are being promoted based on the Act on Proper Technical Intern Training and Protection of Technical Intern Trainees (Technical Intern Training Act) (Act No. 89 of 2016) enacted in November 2017 as well as on bilateral agreements with sending countries.


(Future measures planned)

(a) Promote decent work ((1) promoting employment, (2) developing and enhancing measures of social protection (3) promoting social dialogue, and (4) respecting, promoting and realizing the fundamental principles and rights at work)

  • Continue efforts to realize decent work, including ensuring work-life balance that contributes to women’s participation and advancement in the workplace by promoting labour policies for respecting, promoting, and realizing the principles concerning the fundamental rights stated in the ILO Declaration. [Cabinet Office, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare]
  • Make continued and sustained efforts to pursue ratification of the fundamental ILO conventions and other ILO conventions that are considered appropriate to ratify. [Cabinet Secretariat, National Personnel Authority, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Ministry of Defense]

(b) Reinforce measures against harassment

  • Continue to promote initiatives to achieve harassment-free workplace environments by securing the enforcement of the revised Labour Policies Comprehensive Promotion Act and other acts. [Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare

(c) Protect and respect the rights of workers, including foreign workers and technical intern trainees

  • To employers of foreign workers, disseminate and raise awareness on compliance with labour laws and the Guidelines for Employers to Improve the Management of Employment of Foreign Workers (Public Notice of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare No. 276 of 2007) through seminars and other measures. [Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare]
  • Continue to implement multi-lingual services for foreign workers at Prefectural Labour Bureaus, Public Employment Security Offices, and Labour Standards Inspection Offices. [Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare]
  • The Technical Intern Training Program continues to be implemented under the new framework based on the Technical Intern Training Act enacted in 2017, while also incorporating gender perspectives. This is to be done through: introduction of a license system of supervising organizations and accreditation of technical intern training plans; establishment of provisions on prohibition of abuse of human rights of technical intern trainees and penalties against supervising organizations violating human rights; onsite inspection by the Organization for Technical Intern Training; establishment of offices for consultation and reporting in technical intern trainees’ native language; and making the system more appropriate through bilateral agreements. Continue steady implementation of improvement measures designed by the project team for the operation of the Technical Intern Training Program, and implement new measures for preventing the disappearance of technical intern trainees. [Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare]


(2) Measures of the Government Promoting Corporate Responsibility to Respect Human Rights

A. Measures Related to Domestic and Global Supply Chains and Promotion of Human Rights Due Diligence Based on the UNGPs

(Future measures planned)


(d) Publicize the NAP and raise awareness of human rights due diligence to Japanese business enterprises operating overseas via Japanese embassies, consulates, and overseas offices of government-related entities

  • Publicize the NAP and raise awareness of human rights due diligence with possible cooperation with local agencies and organizations by Japanese embassies and consulates. In so doing, sufficient attention is to be paid to the issue of protection of human rights of workers in supply chains, including the socially vulnerable such as women and children. [Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry]


(f)Steadily implement the Act on the Promotion of Women’s Participation and Advancement in the Workplace

  • The revised Act was adopted and enacted at the ordinary parliamentary session in 2019 (effective from June 1, 2020). The expansion of the Act’s scope (to be effective from April 1, 2022) included: expansion of the obligation to develop action plans and to have information disclosure for business enterprises employing 101 or more employees, and the obligation to reinforce information disclosure applied to business enterprises employing 301 or more employees. Going forward, disseminate information on the contents of the revision, and provide support for SMEs to develop action plans for smooth implementation of the revised Act. [Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare]


(h)Support initiatives by international organizations overseas

  • Continue to provide support for efforts, including voluntary contributions to the ILO, such as promoting decent work of workers at the lower tiers of global supply chains and disseminating good practices discovered through those activities. [Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, line Ministries]


(3) Measures of the Government as an Actor regarding State Duty to Protect Human Rights


D. Promotion and Expansion of the Business and Human Rights Agenda in the International Community

(Existing framework/Measures taken)


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.