NAP Development Process
At the 5th UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights held in 2016, Ambassador Mitsuko Shino of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Geneva, officially announced Japan’s intention to develop a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (NAP).
In her statement, Ambassador Shino stated that Japan plans “to formulate our National Action Plan in the coming years, and [has] started preliminary discussion among relevant ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry ,and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. In formulating our National Action Plan, we consider it important to listen to the voices of business and civil society. We aim to reflect those opinions in a well-balanced manner to promote responsible business activities”.
This intention was further reiterated in Japan’s SDGs Implementation Guiding Principles, released on 22 December 2016, where the government committed to developing a NAP following the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 17/4 and the recommendations by a working group established by the resolution.
At the 7th UN Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights held in 2018, H.E. Ambassador Ken Okaniwa of the Permanent Mission of Japan reiterated Japan’s commitment to formulating a NAP. In his statement, Ambassador Okaniwa emphasized the importance of the NAP by mentioning its incorporation into Japan’s “Expanded SDGs Action Plan 2018” and into the Cabinet-approved “Growth Strategy 2018”. Ambassador Okaniwa also highlighted that Japan’s “initiatives for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 could have a positive impact on the advancement of this NAP development.”
At the initial phase of the NAP formulation process, the Government of Japan has initiated its own version of a baseline assessment (with the aim of assessing the extent to which the current legal framework or relevant policies provide safeguards against business-related human rights abuse). Since March 2018, a total of ten consultation meetings were held with multi-stakeholders including line ministries and agencies, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, the Japan Federation of Bar Association, civil society, academia, and the Japan Business Federation. The multi-stakeholder consultations covered various topics such as public procurement, human rights in international agreements, supply chains, access to remedy, as well as SMEs which generate approximately 70% of all employment in Japan.