Japan needs to make greater efforts to incorporate human rights as an element of its foreign policy, according to the executive director of Human Rights Watch.

Speaking at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo on Wednesday, Kenneth Roth, who heads the New York-based nongovernmental organization dedicated to protecting human rights, praised former Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, now secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, for starting to address rights issues as part of Japan's foreign policy.

"Foreign Minister Okada pushed Burma for fair elections and he pressed Sri Lanka for accountability," Roth said. "Unfortunately, that more activist foreign policy seemed to end when Mr. Okada moved from foreign minister to become the No. 2 official in the DPJ."