In the November 3rd, 2022 7th Periodic Review of Japan, the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UNCCPR Committee welcomed Japan’s adoption of institutional measures: legislative, policies such as for the Fifth Basic Plan for Gender Equality in 2020; the 2018 Intensive Policy to Accelerate the Empowerment of Women; and the adoption of Act No. 72 of 2017, partially amending the Penal Code pertaining to sexual offenses.
These were the positive aspects however the principal matters of concern have outweighed this positivity especially in the areas of the Covenant which stresses the obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms,
The recent recommendations stipulated in the United Nations CCPR Review of Japan has the Committee once again recalling its previous recommendations. It calls upon Japan to further its efforts to provide continuous training and raise awareness among judges, prosecutors, lawyers, law enforcement officers, security forces, civil society actors and members of the general public about the Covenant and its applicability in domestic law.
Furthermore, the State party was advised that it should ensure that effective remedies are available for violations of the rights protected under the Covenant. In my collaborative report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture in 2007, the delegates requested that Rape Crisis Centers be established and Rape Test Kits but the voice of both the victims and the UN Committee were ignored at that time. The Committee was also disappointed that Japan had replied five years too late to the 2000 UNCAT report.
I believe that the UN recommendations have been ignored for too many years. Japan should not need an outside Committee to advise them on basic principles. In addition I strongly feel that time lost in instigating these necessary changes means lost lives and the Japanese government must be aware that by ignoring world wide standards is not only a loss for them but for the victims who need these fundamental changes today. Our organization still has reports of women who are being revictimized upon reporting to police when seeking assistance after falling victim to crime.
Often the police are the first point of contact for victims, therefore the additional trauma and stress at this entry point is not only a great deterrent for reporting but subsequently amplifies mental health implications. This has resulted in long term trauma or in some cases irreversible mental trauma that victims have been suffering with even years after reporting. This abuse has been described by victims as “second rape” and is of critical concern.
Violations of police force ethics include; police yelling at victims, forcing victims to engage in re-enactment photographs of the rape against their will, holding the victim against their will for long periods of time even after victim requests to leave.
Police withholding immediate medical treatment even after victims beg for medical treatment violating medical ethics. Police lack of respect or compassion towards victims and Rape test kits that are not of world standard. In 2004, through the efforts of Michael O’Connell AM, APM, former inaugural Commissioner for Victims’ Rights, South Australia, the first Rape Test Kit was brought to Japan. However Japan did not implement our Rape Test Kits at that time and kits were introduced to Japan much later.
I believe that the Japanese government could have easily remedied re-victimization of victims by its law enforcement if police officers were educated to be sensitized to the needs of victims. Even though I have advocated since 2002 for Rape Test Kits and ethical practice of police force, in 2022 this training is needed immediately to lesson the trauma caused by these police officers. I suggest that only trained officers who are equipped to be respectful to rape or GBV victims should have access to such victims. In addition, for victims who have suffered in the hands of offending police officers to receive reparation from the trauma caused and the offending police officers to be held responsible for their abuse as stipulated in the 2007 Committee Against Torture.
The recent UNCCPR report further requested that Japan facilitate and encourage the filing of complaints by victims and ensure that all acts of violence against women and girls, including cases of their disappearances, are promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated, that steps are taken during investigations to avoid the revictimization of victims, that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished and that victims receive full reparation. If this can become a reality it will be a huge step forward, especially for the family of all missing women. In particular French woman, Tiphaine Veron who disappeared in 2018 in Nikko with her whereabouts still unknown. It is imperative that the Japanese government be sensitive to the families of missing persons and investigate thoroughly until the women are found. Subsequently for other victims of violent crimes who have suffered re victimization by law enforcement or lives have been lost, I hope for a full investigation by the Special Rapporteur.
The UN Committee has also questioned the Japanese government over how immigration officials handled detainees. One of the delegates said that she had not yet received answers to her questions regarding the detention and ill-treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers. Another UN delegate asked how many cases of missing persons had been reported and investigated and whether relatives of missing persons were able to participate in the proceedings in such cases.”
As for the senseless deaths of women in detention centers, such as Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali, I believe that her death could have been prevented had the detention center sought immediate medical attention for her. For me personally, I feel that nothing has changed since I was raped in 2002 regarding basic medical ethics available for victims of crime. When I sought help over 20 years ago from the police in Kanagawa after being violently raped, I was not even offered replacement underwear. I begged to be able to leave the police station so I could receive treatment for the serious injuries incurred while being raped. Immediate medical attention was denied to me and if I wanted to go to hospital the male police officers demanded that I show them where I was hurt. I am still bewildered why those police officers two decades ago had to deny me of my basic human rights and the absurdity that they wanted to see the injuries that I had in my private parts of my body. I was forced to wait in the police station, held against my will, until the hospitals opened in the morning as the police also told me that no hospital was open, for me. That is untrue because there is always a hospital open somewhere in Japan. In the same way, Ms Wishima had soughthelp from a domestic violence situation but due to her visa status she was instead detained and then later died in the detention center. Ms Wishima’s death could have been prevented had the Japanese government heeded my advice from over 20 years ago. The UN has now recommended to Japan that they ensure that all victims, regardless of immigration status, are provided with prompt and adequate assistance, support services and protection.
Furthermore in my appeal to the UN Committee in Geneva from October 10th, I expressed how I have been advocating in Japan for two decades to amend the Status Of Forces Agreement of Article 16 from ‘respect’ the laws of Japan, to ‘obey’ the laws of Japan. I believe that in doing so it will allow victims to receive justice as the alleged perpetrators will not be permitted to leave Japan during trial as the man who raped me did, and will deter rapists which will eradicate rape. The US – Japan Joint Committee is another friend to the perpetrators as Japan has only requested to have the perpetrator be handed over to Japan in a mere handful of cases. This is due to what Japan calls, the case as having to be of “material importance” to Japan. I have requested more data especially on the criteria of the “material importance to Japan”. Now data is being called upon by the UNCCPR Committee who have asked that Japan establish a reliable system for the collection of statistical data on violence against women, disaggregated by race or ethnic origin, in order to effectively target measures to ensure their protection;
The UN Committee was concerned that Japan has still not changed the age of sexual from it’s current age of 13 and to raise the age of consent for sexual activities without further delay.
The penal code for the age of consent in Japan was enacted in 1907 and has not changed since. In the past the average life expectancy of Japanese women was lower than it is now, and it was probably common for women to marry and have children at a younger age. However through health awareness and medical breakthroughs the age of life expectancy has risen and continues to rise. For many years the United Nations has adopted recommendations to Japan to raise the age of consent including in the recent recommendations from the committee of UNCCPR 7th Periodic Review on November 3rd, 2022. Article 731 to 737 of the Japanese Civil Code stipulates that for marriage the male partner must be 18 years of age or older and the female partner must be 18 years of age or older. The question of whether or not to raise the age of consent is a debate that experts have engaged in, however the answer in raising the age of consent from 13 to 16 is just common sense.
In line with the UN Committee’s predictable review cycle, the Japanese Government will receive in 2028 the Committee’s list of issues prior to the submission of the report and will be expected to submit within one year its replies, which will constitute its eighth periodic report. We remain committed to campaigning for and our commitment to upholding the rights of the child, youths and women in all aspects of their lives.
The next constructive dialogue with the Japanese Government will take place in 2030 in Geneva, hopefully the age of consent will have been raised by then and an independent National Human Rights Institution will be established which would enable victims voices to be heard on platforms that offer them world standard care.
Until then, we will not remain silent and we must and will continue to condemn human rights abuses in Japan.
At the UNCCPR in Geneva on October 10th ~ 14th, I was the voice of all of the women who have been failed by Japan in a tragic history written in the blood and tears of women and children,. We must find these missing women, help the families of the murdered women, help the women who are raped and suffering as we speak now.
When there are problems we have two choices. To be part of the solution or to be part of the problem. Unfortunately, at the expense of Victims lives, Japan continues to be part of the problem and failed us all in brazen acts of Human Rights Violations.
We hope the UN will continue to be our solution and establish independent investigations to help us.
No one should be left behind. We must consider urgent remedies as time lost means lost lives. We must change Article 16 of the Status of Forces Agreement SOFA, now.
Thank you for hearing my voice, our voices.
Catherine Jane Fisher – Founder of Warriors Japan est. 2002 I Am Jane email@example.com
The First Woman To Break The Silence In Japan ~ Catherine Jane Fisher Link
I remain dedicated to standing together with all victims. I won’t give up until we can find Tiphaine, that women who are suffering now will receive the Justice that they rightly deserve and that we can eradicated the senseless deaths, murders, violence and rapes. . This much I can promise you with all my heart. I hope more and more people will stand in solidarity. May more loving support pour in and please show your support by sharing this page. Let the bells of truth ring. ~ Catherine Jane Fisher
So glad there are some positives. I Look forward to the day when the world establishes laws that protect children and adults from violence in all its forms, physical, mental, social, cultural and all others.
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