UN Human Rights Council hears report on Japan-related issues

A UN panel on business and human rights issues has reported to the UN Human Rights Council the results of its first survey conducted in Japan last year.

The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights presented the report to a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday.

In the report, the group says it "remains profoundly alarmed" by allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving several hundred talents signed with the agency formerly known as Johnny & Associates.

The talent agency's founder, Johnny Kitagawa, who allegedly committed the abuse, died in 2019.

The report adds that the agency's compensation is "still a long way from meeting the needs of the victims."

The report also mentions issues such as the gender gap in wages and promotions to management posts, wages and health care for workers involved in reactor decommissioning and decontamination efforts at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and long working hours in the animation industry.

The group expresses concern over the lack of an independent human rights body in Japan, and recommends a creation of such a body to facilitate compensation.

The Working Group's chair, Robert McCorquodale, said at the Human Rights Council session there were "systemic human rights challenges in Japan."

He said the Working Group identified an opportunity for increased government and private sector efforts to address urgently the continued lack of access to remedy.

Nihongi Akimasa, one of Kitagawa's alleged victims, sent a video message to the session in which he stressed the need to protect children.

Nihongi said, "Victims of sexual assault can no longer be ignored, harassed and silenced."

The group plans to present its report in Japan early next month.