The government will consider drawing up guidelines to prevent human rights issues related to corporate supply chains, Gen Nakatani, adviser to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, has said.
The guidelines would also help prevent Japanese businesses from becoming involved in such issues through their own or partners’ supply chains, Nakatani, in charge of international human rights issues, said in a recent interview.
“We must prevent Japanese companies from suffering losses from their overseas activities,” Nakatani said, apparently bearing in mind a recent government survey showing that many Japanese companies have not developed a human rights policy or do not know how to do so.
He indicated that a team of officials from the foreign, industry and justice ministries will work on the guidelines.
In spring, U.S. authorities were found to have blocked imports of Uniqlo brand shirts by Japan’s Fast Retailing Co. over cotton made in the Xinjiang Uyghur region, where China is accused of committing human rights abuses.
“We hope to consider measures to help Japanese companies not only in the textile sector but also the high-tech and sensitive technology fields to avoid problems stemming from their foreign operations,” Nakatani said.
The United States and European countries are moving to legislate for so-called human rights due diligence to require companies to take preventive measures against forced labor and other human rights violation risks.
Their moves “are having a huge impact also on Japanese corporate activities,” Nakatani said, showing his eagerness to draw up the guidelines “from the viewpoint of business and human rights.”
Nakatani explained that possible legislation of a Japanese version of the United States’ Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions against senior officials of foreign governments and others who commit human rights violations, should be initiated by lawmakers.
On the U.N. genocide convention, which Japan has not ratified, he said, “We want to consider its necessity and the development of necessary domestic legislation in coordination with related government departments.”
Nakatani stressed the need for China to fully disclose information in order to dispel doubts and concerns over human rights issues linked to Uyghur Muslims and Hong Kong.
As to whether Japan will join the United States and others in a possible diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, Nakatani said Kishida will make a judgment by weighing up various factors comprehensively.
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