Japan: Human Rights Now releases recommendations to Govt. in response to recent survey on human rights in supply chains
"【提言書】日本企業のサプライチェーンにおける人権に関する取組状況のアンケート調査結果に関する提言" 14 December 2021
[ Japanese-to-English translation: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre ]
- Issues identified from the survey results
Firstly, although about 70% of the respondent companies answered that they have established human rights policies, it is likely that about half of them do not comply with the international human rights standards [...]. Furthermore, since it is unclear whether the policies are made public and external organisations or third parties are involved in the process of developing such policies, [...] it should be said that no confirmation has been made on whether the policies meet standards required by the UNGP.
Secondly, the engagement of external stakeholders in the HRDD and the disclosure of information on the implementation of the HRDD do not meet the international standards in each company's efforts. [...] Only 30% of companies provide opportunities for external stakeholders to be involved in HRDD. Furthermore, the most common external stakeholders involved are experts (67%), followed by NGOs/NPOs (47%), investors (42%), while local residents, who are rights holders that may be affected by business activities, mark 14%, followed by consumers (only 10%). [...] Regarding the implementation HRDD, only about 10-16% of the respondent companies have implemented HRDD covering indirect suppliers, customers and clients (consumers). [...] Furthermore, only about half of the respondent companies (52%) disclose information on their human rights activities, which implies that the transparency of businesses is not being ensured.
Thirdly, there are issues regarding remedy and reporting systems. In addition to the fact that only about half of the companies (49%) have remedy and reporting systems, 92% of those companies only have in-house systems. This means that even if violations of human rights of those who are vulnerable, such as foreigners, children, women, LGBTQ, and disabled persons, or violations of workers' decent work in the supply chain, as defined in the Japanese NAP, take place, the victims may not be able to receive effective remedies.
(1) To ensure companies are well informed about UNGP and the need for HRDD
In the first place, there were only 760 companies that responded to the questionnaire out of 2,786 target companies, and given the above-mentioned issues, we must conclude that efforts even by listed companies are insufficient to address human rights. According to the results, among the respondent companies, many companies answered that they did not know how to conduct the HRDD or did not recognize the necessity of it, which indicates that companies do not have a basic understanding of the UNGP and the necessity and specific contents of the HRDD. [...]. Therefore, HRN urges the Japanese government to promptly implement necessary measures to inform companies about what human rights activities are required by the UNGP.
(2) To improve the legal system regarding HRDD
[...] In light of international movements and the situation of Japanese companies (including the number of non-responsive companies) revealed by this questionnaire, it is difficult to promote the HRDD only by companies' voluntary efforts. Therefore, HRN strongly urges the Japanese government to promptly discuss the legal system in accordance with the international standards for human rights in order to realize the state obligation to protect human rights and the responsibility of companies to respect human rights.
(3) To ensure company efforts are made in accordance with international human rights standards
[...].HRN urges governments and companies to [...] ensure that business and human rights practices are carried out in accordance with international human rights standards, by maintaining a high level of awareness and compliance with international human rights standards, and by working closely with UN agencies and civil society.