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20 Dec 2021

Human Rights Now

Japan: Human Rights Now releases new report on human rights policies and practices of seafood companies, including concerns about "black boxes" in procurement

"日本の水産業関連会社に対するアンケート結果報告" 20 December 2021

[Japanese-to-English translation: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre]


On 20 January of this year, Human Rights Now released a "Report on Human Rights Violations in the Seafood Industry and the Involvement of Japanese Companies" in light of the human rights violations against Indonesian crew members on a Chinese-flagged fishing boat. [...] Based on this, from January to May this year, we asked 11 Japanese companies in the seafood industry [...] (Maruha Nichiro, Nippon Suisan Kaisha, AEON, Seven & i Holdings, Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Itochu, Sumitomo, Marubeni, Kyokuyo and Yokohama Reito) for a survey on the human rights policy in the seafood industry and the implementation of the policy including the supply chain.[...]

Of the 11 companies, we received responses from 9 companies except for Kyokuyo and Yokohama Reito, despite our repeated requests for responses. In light of the fact that Japan is one of the world's largest importers of seafood products, Kyokuyo and Yokohama Reito, which have great leverage in the seafood industry, have an extremely important role to play in preventing serious human rights violations such as forced labour and slave labour. It is regrettable that Kyokuyo and Yokohama Reito did not submit a response on their efforts. [...]

Through the analysis of the responses to the survey, it can be seen that each company is aware of the need to address human rights issues, and although some progress has been made in terms of specific systems and initiatives to realize the corporate responsibility to respect human rights as required by the UN Guiding Principles, there are still many inadequacies and a high need for improvement.