Japanese companies need to do more to address human rights issues in their businesses, as a failure to keep up with international ethical standards will be a serious risk to their operations in global markets, a U.N. Development Program director said.

"If companies do not tackle this issue in the right way, they could be shut out from the European and U.S. markets," Asako Okai, director of the UNDP's Crisis Bureau, said in a recent interview.

Companies worldwide in the apparel, textile and solar panel industries, for example, have scrutinized their supply chains to see if their products included materials from China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, an area known for producing cotton and polysilicon used in solar panels.