UN Faults Japan's Human Rights Record: Cites Use of Wartime 'Comfort Women
November 6, 2012
ANI & Nuclear News & Child Rights International Network & The Yomiuri Shimbun & The Asahi Shimbun
The UN has endorsed recommendations calling on Japan to improve its human rights record. The UN criticized Japan's use of sexual slavery during the war and the current status of women's rights. The charges also cited the Japanese citizens' right to lead a healthy life, in light of the enormous amount of radioactive fallout released by the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
UN Endorses Recommendations for Japan to Improve Human Rights Record -- Cites Nuclear Contamination
ANI & Nuclear News
"IIMA criticized some information campaigns promoted immediately after the disaster aimed at reducing the concern about the radiation exposure to children."
-- United Nations Report 2012
GENEVA (November 4, 2012) -- (ANI): A panel under the United Nations Human Rights Council has endorsed some 170 recommendations for Japan to improve its human rights record, including Tokyo's handling of the so-called comfort women issue and the euphemism for the Imperial army's wartime sex slaves.
The Universal Periodic Review's working group, which is tasked with examining the human rights records of all UN member states, compiled 174 proposals for Japan in a report summarizing the findings from a session held last week.
According to the Japan Times, while the recommendations are not legally binding, Japan has been asked to provide a response by March, when the Human Rights Council will convene for a regular session at the United Nations office in Geneva.
During last week's session, China, North and South Korea, and numerous other countries proposed that Japan recognize its legal responsibility and provide adequate compensation to women forced into sexual slavery across Asia by the Imperial army before and during the war.
Other recommendations include the safeguarding of Japanese citizens' right to lead a healthy life, in light of the enormous amount of radioactive fallout spewed over a vast area by the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, the report said.
The report also called on Japan to abolish the death penalty after more than 20 countries, including prominent EU member states, objected to its continued use of capital punishment, it added. (ANI)
Japan: Children's Rights in the Universal Periodic Review
(Second Cycle: October 25, 2012)
Child Rights International Network
A compilation of extracts featuring child-rights issues from the reports submitted to the second Universal Periodic Review. There are extracts from the 'National Report', the 'Compilation of UN Information' and the 'Summary of Stakeholders' Information'. Also included is the list of accepted and rejected recommendations. [...]
Summary of stakeholders' information
64. Joint Submission 4 (JS4) indicated that Japan had not taken the necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to protect the right to life, survival and development, the right to health and the right to play of the children of Fukushima.
The Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausíliatrice (IIMA) recommended monitoring radiation levels in schools and carry out the proper decontamination, beginning with those places most frequently occupied by children and pregnant women.
66. JS4 stated that Japan should make appropriate compensation health treatment for radiation risks for children of Fukushima and their families. It added that access to accurate information about radiation and its effect was rarely provided by the local authorities and by central government.
68. JS4 stated that local communities in the affected areas had complained about the lack of correct information about radiation and expressed serious concerns regarding impacts of the nuclear crisis. JFBA added that information on evacuation plans was not satisfactory.
JNEAGE expressed similar concerns and added that measures to protect children and women from the exposure to radiation were delayed. IIMA criticized some information campaigns promoted immediately after the disaster aimed at reducing the concern about the radiation exposure to children. [...]
UNHRC Investigates Japanese Human Rights
Child Rights International Network & CCTV
(November 1, 2012) -- The United Nations Human Rights Council has carried out its regular investigation into the human rights situation in Japan, bringing the comfort women issue again into focus in Geneva.
It has come up with advice and suggestions on genderinequality and the basic rights of women and children. Many countries have expressed their concerns over the use of comfort women during the Second World War.
S. Korean representative says, "A number of UN treaty bodies as well as the UN Commission on Human Rights have recommended that the Japanese government accepts its legal responsibility, and provides redress to the victims, and further prosecutes those responsible for such crimes. These issues however still remain unresolved."
In addition, the Dutch representative on the UN Human Rights Council says the subject of comfort women during the Second World War has been eliminated from the Japanese school curriculum andtextbooks. This has deprived people of learning about Japan's crimes.
China condemned Japan at the meeting for not taking any effective measures on the comfort women issue and not apologizing and compensating the victims. Meanwhile, China has also urged Japan to implement the UNHRC's suggestions without delay to promote gender equality and protect the basic rights of women and children.
The UNHRC investigates every member state's human rights situation every four years.
An Appeal from the UK
LONDON -- We are Japanese people living in the UK. We are not activists or scientists, just normal citizens who want peace in the world and to protect our environment in a way that serves everybody.
We are aware that there isn't enough information in the main stream media in the UK about what's going on in Fukushima, and we would like to share with you what we've found from Japanese web sites: information and news from scientists and doctors who are extremely worried about the safety of citizens, and from concerned freelance journalists and ordinary people.
Since the magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami, followed by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, we have been feeling a huge sense of loss… and have learned that nothing stays the same.
Also we think that the Fukushima disaster was actually the result of many years of global political and economic corruption going on behind the scenes, and that the Japanese government was taken in by the worldwide drive for nuclear power, without learning the lessons of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings.
Here is some spin from the early days of the tragedy... the real issues are not tackled, Yomiuri Shimbun still had hope for nuclear power.
Better Radiation Education Needed to End Prejudice
The Yomiuri Shimbun
TOKYO (August 21, 2011) -- Ever since the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, many evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture have been subjected to discrimination and prejudice.
A student who transferred from the prefecture to a primary school in the Kanto region was shunned by classmates and eventually stopped going to class. Some gas stations in the Tokyo metropolitan area have refused to serve cars bearing Fukushima license plates.
These mindless acts stem from the misunderstanding that radiation can be passed from person to person.
Hurting or harassing people due to a lack of basic scientific knowledge cannot be allowed to go unchecked. Education about radiation must be improved radically.
Until the nuclear crisis erupted, many Japanese probably knew little about radioactivity. This is because students in this country have not been taught about radiation for three decades.
30 Years of Lax Education
Middle school students in the 1960s and '70s were taught about radiation. But since the '80s, this topic has been erased from school textbooks as class content was reduced in line with the "yutori" (relaxed) education policy.
However, the government has decided to revive lessons on radioactivity for the first time in 30 years.
The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry's new curriculum guidelines are scheduled to be fully implemented from next spring with the aim of greatly increasing class content. These guidelines reflect soul-searching done since the deficiencies of yutori education became apparent.
We hope these guidelines -- which the government had decided on before the Fukushima nuclear accident -- will help children and their parents become accurately informed about radiation.
Exposure to a large dose of radiation can have serious health repercussions. While radiation has an image of being dangerous, it also has positive uses such as X-rays and cancer treatments. People are exposed to natural radiation arising from Earth and from space every day.
Being armed with this knowledge would help eliminate prejudice targeting residents of and evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture, and prevent groundless radiation scares from spreading due to excessive anxiety over the nuclear accident.
Teachers Lack Knowledge
It is important to teach children the meaning of "becquerel," which indicates how much radiation a radioactive substance emits, and "sievert," the unit for calculating the effect radiation has on the human body. This will help children better understand daily news reports about radiation.
Based on lessons drawn from the Fukushima accident, children should be taught what to do when evacuating in the event of a nuclear accident and how to protect themselves from radiation. They also should be given opportunities to think about the importance of ensuring nuclear plant safety.
Most teachers, however, have never taught about radiation. As a result, lecture meetings on radiation basics for teachers have been swamped with applications to attend.
The education ministry and boards of education should do everything they can to hold more such meetings with the assistance of universities.
The ministry has been compiling supplementary reading materials explaining radiation. These are scheduled to be distributed to primary, middle and high schools across the country as early as next month.
We hope constant efforts will be made to improve education about radiation.
Second Mass Complaint Coming over Fukushima Disaster
Masakazu Honda / The Asahi Shimbun
FUKUSHIMA (November 2, 2012) -- More than 10,000 people from across Japan are seeking criminal charges against officials of Japan's government and the utility that operates the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, after a similar mass complaint this summer accused 33 officials of causing death and injury through negligence.
Prosecutors in Fukushima Prefecture are currently examining the earlier complaint, filed in June by 1,324 people who were residents of the prefecture at the time of the accident in March 2011.
Complainants behind the new case plan to file it with the Fukushima District Public Prosecutors Office on Nov. 15. The group numbers about 10,850 individuals, from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.
The group is led by Ruiko Muto, 59, who traveled around the country seeking support.
Complainants argued that a broadly backed complaint would show that the general public is seeking criminal accountability for those who promoted nuclear power -- and hold them responsible for damage from the disaster and for exposing victims to radiation.
The first complaint named 33 individuals, including 15 current and former officials of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the company that operates the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
It said they should be charged with professional negligence resulting in death and injury because they failed to take safety measures and furthermore released wrong information.
Prosecutors have had TEPCO submit video footage of teleconferences conducted between the head office and the Fukushima plant in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami.
They are expected to question concerned individuals before deciding whether to issue indictments.
Prosecutors have asked complainants to submit documents relating to people who died during the evacuation.
In addition to those documents, complainants plan to submit medical certificates for evacuees who were diagnosed as suffering mental trauma as a result of their ordeal.
They have argued that victims suffered "injuries" from radiation exposure. But it is thought to be difficult in law to establish a causal relationship between those purported injuries and the nuclear accident.
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