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Japan PM's human rights initiative stalls as adviser post left vacant

By JapanTimes

March 11, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has left the post of special adviser on international human rights issues vacant for about six months, resulting in stalled debate in the country on how to deal with such concerns.

Kishida has not appointed any successor to former Defense Minister Gen Nakatani since a Cabinet reshuffle in September. Nakatani is an advocate of introducing sanctions on foreign government officials believed to be human rights offenders similar to those under the U.S. Magnitsky Act.

With no one in the post and no progress in discussions regarding a Japanese version of the Magnitsky Act, Kishida has been criticized by a government source as "shelving" steps to address global humanitarian concerns.

Creating the special advisor post on human rights was one of Kishida's pledges when he ran successfully in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's presidential race in September 2021.

In recent years, global corporations have been more sensitive to the human rights dimensions of their supply chains, especially in light of allegations that China is subjecting the Uyghur Muslim minority in its far-western Xinjiang region to forced labor and other abuses.

Kishida picked veteran LDP lawmaker Nakatani, who played a role in forming a cross-party lawmakers' group to promote human rights diplomacy, as special adviser in November 2021.

Nakatani has since launched two governmental committees, including one aimed at introducing "human rights due diligence," a process for companies to identify and address human rights concerns with regard to suppliers.

As part of efforts to raise Japan's global profile in human rights issues, he attended a gathering of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, to deliver a speech in March 2022.

But since Nakatani left his post, debate has stalled at the committees he led.

A government official has expressed skepticism about Kishida's commitment, saying the prime minister may just have seen establishing the post as a popular move at the time.


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