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The UN rights group says Japan must do more to combat human rights abuses

TOKYO (AP) — A group working under the U.N. Human Rights Council has released a comprehensive report on rights in Japan, including discrimination against minorities and unhealthy working conditions.

The report, released this week in Geneva, recommended several changes in Japan, such as more training in companies to raise awareness of rights issues, establishing mechanisms to hear complaints, increasing diversity and strengthening the controls on working conditions, as well as sanctions against people. violations of rights.

The UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, which visited Japan last year, is made up of independent human rights experts who work under a mandate from the council, but they do not speak on its behalf.

Their report identified the gender pay gap and discrimination against the Ainu indigenous group, LGBTQ and people with disabilities as problem areas, citing a long list of people the report said were “at risk.”

“At the heart of the challenges faced by at-risk stakeholder groups is, on the one hand, the lack of diversity and inclusion in the labor market, and on the other, the prevalence of discrimination, harassment and violence in the workplace and in society at large. ” it said.

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The report called working conditions for foreigners and migrants “appalling” and raised concerns about cancer cases among people working at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which suffered a meltdown in 2011.

The report also states that whistleblower protection in Japan and access to justice need to be improved.

One of the issues raised in the report was alleged sexual abuse at the Japanese entertainment company formerly known as Johnny and Associates.

Dozens of men have come forward that they were sexually abused as children and teenagers by Johnny Kitagawa, who ran Johnny’s, as the company is known, while they worked as actors and singers decades ago.

Kitagawa was never charged and died in 2019. The head of Johnny’s publicly apologized last May. The company has not yet responded to the report.

According to the report, the monetary compensation the company, now renamed Smile-Up, provided to 201 people was not enough.

“This falls far short of meeting the needs of victims who have requested timely remedial action, including those whose compensation claims have been appealed,” the report said.

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It also urged Smile-Up to offer mental health care and provide free lawyers and clinical psychologists.

Junya Hiramoto, one of those who came forward, welcomed the report as a first step.

“The abuse is not beyond us. It is with us now and will remain with us,” he said on Wednesday.

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AP correspondent James Keaten in Geneva contributed to this report.

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Yuri Kageyama is at X: https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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