A group of lawyers plans to call for legislation aimed at protecting the human rights of non-Japanese and reducing discrimination against them, group members said Sunday.

The proposal will be presented at a symposium scheduled for Thursday in Miyazaki as part of the annual human rights protection meeting of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.

The 38-member planning committee of the symposium’s session to address ways for different ethnicities and cultures to coexist in Japan came up with a draft proposal of a bill to protect the human rights of foreigners and ethnic minorities.

The association is expected to adopt a declaration Friday calling on the national and local governments to enact legislation and take measures to eliminate discrimination.

The committee’s proposal calls for the guarantee of foreigners’ voting rights in local elections and their right to ethnic and mother-language education, as well as for sufficient social security and a ban on discrimination.

More than 2 million foreigners are estimated to be living in Japan, including illegal immigrants. While the country is becoming more diversified, there are cases in which non-Japanese are treated unfavorably in jobs or are rejected as tenants or customers.

“Xenophobic sentiment has been growing, and we are afraid that discrimination and human rights violations against foreigners will intensify if we don’t take action now,” said Masao Niwa, chairman of the planning committee.

“Japan’s judicial system needs to be changed from one that treats foreigners as objects of control — as seen in alien registration laws — to one that centers on human rights,” he said.

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