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21 May 2023

G7 Japan 2023: Leaders urged to introduce mandatory due diligence measures to implement international human rights, labour and environmental standards

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

In 2023, Japan took over the G7 Presidency: more than 10 ministerial meetings will be held in Japan and the G7 Summit will be held in Hiroshima. As part of process, civil society organisations have been working through Civil 7 (C7) to make policy recommendations for G7 leaders. At C7, there are six working groups, one of which, the Economic Justice and Transformation Working Group, has been active in making policy recommendations on business and human rights.

The resulting C7 Communiqué was handed over to Japanese Prime Minister Kishida on 12 April 2023. The C7 Communiqué recommends G7 leaders to introduce mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence and support for the UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights.

The C7 also issued a joint statement with the L7, calling for the establishment of a safe and decent working environment in the supply chain.

In addition, the C7 issued a statement calling for mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation and requested not only due diligence but also other legal measures and the establishment of a relevant working group within the G7.

From 19 to 21 May, leaders met in Hiroshima, Japan. The Hiroshima Communiqué says that "Recognizing the need to deepen discussions within and beyond the G7 on business and human rights", leaders commit to "strengthen cooperation and collective efforts, including by accelerating exchange of information, towards ensuring respect for human rights and international labour standards in business activities and global supply chains, and further enhancing resilience, predictability and certainty for businesses, and call upon others to join us in these efforts."

To this, C7 said the BHR language had been weakened regarding the reference to international standards such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)., and that there is no mention of the need for mandatory human rights due diligence measures that were in place until last year.

Environmental CSOs such as Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative said that the leaders failed to address the climate emergency and justify ongoing fossil fuel production by including final text such as “we stress the important role that increased deliveries of LNG can play, and acknowledge that investment in the sector can be appropriate” and “publicly supported investment in the gas sector can be appropriate.“