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Title: Jamaica Human Rights Practices, 1995
Author:  U.S. Department of State
Date:  March 1996


Japan is a parliamentary democracy based on a 1947 Constitution.  
Sovereignty is vested in the people, and the Emperor is defined as the 
symbol of state.  Executive power is exercised by a cabinet, composed of 
a prime minister and ministers of state, responsible to the Diet, 
Japan's two-house Parliament.  The Diet, elected by universal suffrage 
and secret ballot, designates the Prime Minister, who must be a member 
of that body.  The Government, formed in June 1994, is a three-party 
coalition consisting of the Liberal Democratic Party, the Japan 
Socialist Party, and the New Party Sakigake.  The judiciary is 
independent of the Government.

A well-organized and disciplined police force generally respects the 
human rights of the populace and is firmly under the control of the 
civil authorities.  However, there continued to be credible reports of 
harsh treatment of some suspects in custody.

The industrialized free market economy is highly efficient and 
competitive in world markets and provides residents with a high standard 
of living.  In 1995, however, the economy continued in a state of 
recession which began in 1991.

A just and efficient legal system generally assures observance of 
constitutionally provided human rights.  However, there continue to be 
some reports of physical and psychological abuse of prisoners or 
detainees.  Officials are sometimes dismissed for such abuse but are 
seldom tried, convicted, and imprisoned.  The Burakumin (a group 
historically treated as outcasts), the Ainu (Japan's indigenous people), 
women, and alien residents experience varying degrees of societal 
discrimination, some of it severe and longstanding.  


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 

  a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial killings.

  b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

  c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 

The Constitution provides for freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, 
or degrading treatment or punishment.  However, reports by several 
Japanese bar associations, human rights groups, and some prisoners 
indicate that police sometimes use physical violence, including kicking 
and beating, as well as psychological intimidation, including threats 
and name calling, to obtain confessions from suspects in custody or to 
enforce discipline.  In Japan confession is regarded as the first step 
in the rehabilitative process.  Although under the Constitution, no 
criminal suspect can be compelled to make a self-incriminating 
confession, roughly 90 percent of all criminal cases going to trial 
include confessions, reflecting the priority that the system places on 
admissions of guilt.  The Government points out that the high percentage 
of confessions, like the high conviction rate, is reflective of a higher 
standard of evidence needed to bring about indictment in the Japanese 
system.  Since a system of arraignment does not exist in Japan, a 
suspect, if indicted, will be brought to trial even if that person has 
confessed to the crime.  This results in a higher conviction rate than 
would otherwise be the case.

Appellate courts have overturned several convictions in recent years on 
the ground that they were obtained as a result of forced confession.  In 
addition, civil and criminal suits have been brought against some police 
and prosecution officials, alleging abuse during interrogation and 
detention.  Finally, there were scattered allegations of beatings of 
detainees in immigration detention facilities.  

The Japanese Federation of Bar Associations and human rights groups have 
criticized the prison system, with its emphasis on strict discipline and 
obedience to numerous rules.  Guards sometimes selectively enforce rules 
and impose punishment, including "minor solitary confinement," which may 
be imposed for at least 1 and not more than 60 days and in which the 
prisoner is made to sit (for foreigners) or kneel (for Japanese) 
motionless in the middle of an empty cell.  

Some human rights groups allege that physical restraints, such as 
leather handcuffs, have been used as a form of punishment and that 
prisoners have been forced to eat and relieve themselves unassisted 
while wearing these restraints.  Ministry of Justice officials state 
that restraints are used inside the prison only when prisoners have been 
violent and pose a threat to themselves and others, or when there is 
concern that a prisoner might attempt to escape.

  d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Constitutional provisions for freedom from arbitrary arrest or 
imprisonment are respected in practice.  Japanese law provides for 
judicial determination of the legality of detention.  People may not be 
detained without charge, and prosecuting authorities must be prepared to 
demonstrate before trial that probable cause exists to detain the 
accused.  Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, a suspect may be held in 
police custody for up to 72 hours without judicial proceedings.  
Preindictment custody may be extended by a judge for up to 20 additional 
days.  If an indictment follows, the suspect is transferred to a 
criminal detention facility.  Bail is available in only about 25 percent 
of cases.

The Bar Association and human rights groups have criticized the practice 
of "substitute detention."  Although the law stipulates that suspects 
should be held in "houses of detention" between arrest and sentencing, a 
police detention facility may be substituted at the order of the court.  
This provision was originally added to cover a shortage of normal 
detention facilities.  However, according to the most recent Ministry of 
Justice White Paper on Crime, published in 1994, normal detention 
facilities were filled to approximately 52 percent of capacity in 1993.  
Critics charge that allowing suspects to be detained by the same 
authorities who interrogate them heightens the potential for abuse and 
coercion.  The Government counters that adequate safeguards to prevent 
abuse, including strong judicial oversight, have been built into the 

The length of time before a suspect is brought to trial depends on the 
nature of the crime but rarely exceeds 2 months from date of arrest; the 
average is 1 to 2 months.  Critics charge that access to counsel is 
limited both in duration and frequency, although the Government denies 
that this is the case.  The Criminal Procedure Code grants the 
prosecution and investigating police officials the power to control 
access to attorneys before indictment when deemed necessary for the sake 
of the investigation.  As a court-appointed attorney is not approved 
until after indictment, suspects must rely on their own resources to 
hire an attorney for counseling before indictment.  In addition, counsel 
may not be present during interrogation at any time before or after 
indictment.  Beyond this, the Government affirms that the right of the 
accused to seek legal counsel is fully respected and that attorneys are 
almost always able to see clients without obstruction.  Local bar 
associations provide detainees with a free counseling session prior to 
indictment.  Counsel is provided at government expense after indictment 
if the arrested person cannot afford one.

Preventive detention does not exist.

  e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judiciary is independent and free from executive branch 
interference.  The Cabinet appoints judges for 10-year terms, which can 
be renewed until judges have reached the age of 65.  Justices of the 
Supreme Court can serve until the age of 70 but face periodic review 
through popular referendum.  A defendant who is dissatisfied with the 
decision of a trial court of first instance may, within the period 
prescribed by law, appeal to a higher court.  There are several levels 
of courts, with the Supreme Court serving as the highest judicial 
authority.  There is no trial by jury in Japan.

The Government respects in practice the constitutional provisions for 
the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial tribunal in all 
criminal cases.  The defendant is informed of charges upon arrest and 
assured a public trial by an independent civilian court with defense 
counsel and the right of cross-examination.  The Constitution provides 
defendants with the right not to be compelled to testify against 
themselves as well as to free and private access to counsel, although 
the right to such access is sometimes abridged in practice.  For 
example, the law allows prosecutors to control access to counsel before 
indictment, and there are persistent allegations of coerced confessions.  
Defendants are also protected from the retroactive application of laws 
and have the right of access to incriminating evidence after a formal 
indictment has been made.  However, the law does not require full 
disclosure by the prosecutor, and material that the prosecution will not 
use in court may be suppressed.  

There were no reports of political prisoners.

  f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

Under the Constitution, each search or seizure must be made upon 
separate warrant issued by a judge.  Standards for issuing such warrants 
exist to guard against arbitrary searches.  There were no reports that 
the Government or any other organization arbitrarily interfered with 
privacy, family, home, or correspondence.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

  a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and 
the Government respects these rights in practice.  An independent press, 
an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system 
combine to ensure freedom of speech and of the press, including academic 

  b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

These freedoms are provided for in the Constitution and respected in 

  c.  Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion is provided for in the Constitution and is respected 
in practice.  While Buddhism and Shintoism are the two major religions, 
there are many others, including several Christian denominations.  Some 
temples and shrines receive public support as national historic or 
cultural sites.

The Government does not require that religious groups be licensed.  
However, to receive official recognition as a religious organization, 
which brings tax easement and other benefits, a group must register with 
local or national authorities as a "religious corporation."  In 
practice, almost all religious groups register, and in 1995 the 
procedure was little more than a formality.  However, following a series 
of crimes allegedly carried out by the Aum Shinrikyo religious sect, the 
Government prepared, and the Diet in December passed, amendments to the 
Religious Corporation Law.  The amendments give governmental authorities 
increased oversight of religious bodies and require greater disclosure 
of financial assets by religious corporations.  Another change shifts 
authority over religious corporations active in more than one prefecture 
from local authorities to the Ministry of Education.  It remains unclear 
whether these amendments will result in an infringement of freedom of 
worship or of expression.

  d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation

Citizens have the right to travel freely both within Japan and abroad, 
to change their place of residence, to emigrate, and to repatriate 
voluntarily.  Japanese nationality may be lost by naturalization in a 
foreign country, for people born with dual nationality, or by failure to 
elect Japanese nationality at the required age.

Japan has granted asylum in only a small number of cases to those 
claiming fear of persecution if they return to their homeland.  The 
Government believes that most people seeking asylum in Japan do so for 
economic reasons.  According to the Foreign Ministry, from 1982 to 
August 1995, Japan determined that 208 of 1,162 applicants met the 
required standard for asylum.  The Government has shown flexibility in 
dealing with visa extensions for Chinese student dissidents, although it 
continues to be reluctant to grant permanent asylum.

Strict administrative procedures contribute to the roughly 20-percent 
rate of approval of asylum applications.  For example, appeals of 
initial denials are reviewed by a separate authority of the same body, 
and decisions are rarely overturned.  Asylum seekers and some critics 
claim that the processing of asylum applications is not readily 
understandable, making it difficult for applicants to comply with 
government procedures.  Also, the Government's "60-day rule" requires 
applicants to appear at an immigration office within 60 days of arrival 
or within 60 days of the time they learn they are likely to be 
persecuted in their home country; most asylum seekers arrive in Japan 
without knowledge of this requirement and can inadvertently waive their 
claim by not acting promptly.  In an effort to make procedures clearer 
to applicants, the Government has revised the English-language pamphlet 
it distributes to those interested in the asylum process.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government

Citizens have the right peacefully to change their government and are 
able to exercise this right in practice through frequent, free, and fair 
elections on the basis of universal suffrage by secret ballot.  A 
parliamentary democracy, Japan is governed by the political party or 
parties able to form a majority in the lower house of its bicameral 
Diet.  From 1955 until 1993, all prime ministers and almost all cabinet 
ministers were members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which 
enjoyed a majority in the lower house throughout this period.  From 
August 1993 to June 1994, non-LDP coalitions governed the country.  The 
current three-party coalition government includes the LDP.  Local and 
prefectural governments are often controlled by coalitions.

There are no legal or de facto impediments to women's participation in 
government and politics, but cultural attitudes are not favorable to 
their participation.  Women hold 14 seats in the 511-member lower house 
of the Diet, and 19 seats in the 252-member upper house.  As of 
December, the 21-member Cabinet had no female members.  Women make up 
21.6 percent of all national government workers but hold less than 0.8 
percent of top (director level and higher) government posts.  In 1991 
the Prime Minister's Office promulgated an action plan to increase the 
number of women in leadership positions on government advisory panels to 
30 percent by the end of fiscal year 1995.  However, the target was 
later cut to 15 percent, a step apparently reflecting slower than 
anticipated progress.  Only 75 of the 203 existing panels have met the 
15-percent target.

There is one Ainu member of the Diet (see Section 5).

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A number of local and international human rights organizations function 
freely, without governmental restrictions or impediments, investigating 
and publishing their findings on human rights cases.  Government 
officials are generally cooperative and responsive to their views, 
although the Government restricts access to prisons and detention 
facilities by human rights groups.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status

The Constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, creed, 
sex, social status, or family origin, and, in general, the Government 
enforces these provisions effectively.


According to the Ministry of Justice, 2,204 incidents of spousal abuse 
against women were reported to authorities in 1994.  However, violence 
against women, particularly domestic violence, often may go unreported 
due to social and cultural concerns about shaming one's family or 
endangering the reputation of one's spouse or offspring.  Typically, 
victimized women often return to the home of their parents rather than 
file reports with authorities.  Therefore, Ministry of Justice 
statistics on violence against women undoubtedly understate the scope of 
the current situation.  Many local governments are responding positively 
to a need for confidential assistance by establishing special women's 
consultation departments in police and prefectural offices.

Recent immigration trends reflect the growing problem of trafficking of 
Asian women to Japan.  While the number of illegal male workers has 
decreased from its peak in 1992, the number of illegal female workers 
has continued to increase.  According to the Ministry of Justice, just 
over 6 percent of illegal female immigrants work in occupations 
involving prostitution.  However, human rights groups estimate that the 
figure is actually much higher.  The Government is working to reduce the 
foreign prostitution problem by enforcing existing antiprostitution laws 
as well as provisions in the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition 
Act directed against anyone "encouraging a person to engage in illegal 
work."  In recent years, police, especially in Tokyo, have conducted a 
number of sweeps against both foreign prostitutes and their employers.

The position of women in society, although significantly improved during 
the last few decades, continues to reflect deep-seated traditional 
values that assign women a subordinate role in the workplace.  Although 
discrimination by private employers against women is prohibited by the 
Constitution, it persists.  Legislation has been enacted over the past 
30 years to accord women the same legal status as men.  The Equal 
Employment Opportunity Law of 1986 was aimed at eliminating sex 
discrimination in such areas as recruitment, promotion, and vocational 
training.  Yet the law does not expressly forbid discrimination in 
recruitment, hiring, assignment, and promotion of workers; it merely 
states that "employers should endeavor" to avoid it.  Under this law and 
other regulations, the Ministry of Labor attempts to encourage corporate 
compliance with its objectives by positive inducements; it does not 
enforce compliance through fines or other punitive measures.  In 
addition, as part of their lower overall intake of new employees because 
of continuing recessionary pressures, some companies announced that they 
would hire no women in 1995.  Other companies did not announce such a 
policy but reduced the percentage of women hired for entry-level 
positions or laid off a higher proportion of female than male employees.  

Significant disparities in pay and access to managerial positions 
persist for women, who comprise over 40 percent of the employed 
population.  Several cases are pending which challenge management's 
allegedly biased use of Japan's two-track (general versus 
administrative) system in hiring female employees.  Initially designed 
to create a "career" track for employees while maintaining a separate 
"clerical" track, observers say the system is used to discriminate 
against women, who traditionally have not been hired for managerial 
positions.  While the Labor Standards Law prohibits employers from 
discriminating against women in wages, it does not ban disproportionate 
hiring into different career tracks based on gender.  According to the 
Ministry of Labor, the average wage of women workers in 1995 was less 
than 65 percent of that of men, and women hold only 3.9 percent of 
management posts in the country.  In May an advisory commission to the 
Tokyo governor ruled in favor of six female employees who accused their 
employer of sexual discrimination in personnel assignment and wage 

Public awareness of discrimination against women and sexual harassment 
in the workplace has increased.  A growing number of government entities 
are establishing hot lines and designating ombudsmen to handle 
complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment.  Nevertheless, 
sexual discrimination and stereotyping in the workplace continue to be 
major problems for women.

In August 1993, the Prime Minister officially acknowledged and 
apologized for the former Imperial Government's involvement in the 
army's practice of forcing an estimated 200,000 women (including 
Koreans, Filipinos, Chinese, Indonesians, Burmese, Dutch, and Japanese) 
to provide sex to soldiers between 1932 and 1945.  Current plans by the 
Government to make amends for these abuses by the old Imperial Army do 
not include direct government compensation to surviving "comfort women."  
Two cases are pending in Tokyo District Court--one brought by 
3 Korean plaintiffs and the other by 18 Filipino plaintiffs--seeking 
compensation for these abuses, but a decision in these cases is likely 
to take years.  Meanwhile, in August, a government-backed, private body 
known as the Asian Women's Fund began to raise private-sector funds for 
eventual payment as compensation to surviving comfort women.


The Government is committed to children's rights and welfare, and in 
general, the rights of children are adequately protected.  Boys and 
girls have equal access to health care and other public facilities.  
There is no pattern of societal abuse against children.

In recent years, the problem of severe bullying, or "ijime," received 
greater public attention.  It involves verbal or physical abuse in 
middle and high schools.  In 1994 there were 21,598 cases of bullying 
reported to the Ministry of Education, but many cases go unreported.  
According to police reports, 11 children under the age of 18 committed 
suicide in response to bullying last year, and the actual number of 
bullying-related suicides was probably higher.  To cope with bullying, 
as well as with other children's issues, the Ministry of Justice in 
August 1994 established the Office of Ombudsman for Children's Rights.

  People with Disabilities

Although not generally subject to overt discrimination in employment, 
education, or in the provision of other state services, the disabled 
face limited access to public transportation, "mainstream" public 
education, and other facilities.  Japan has no national law protecting 
the rights of the disabled, including access and employment, but some 
prefectures and cities have enacted their own legislation addressing the 
issue.  Despite the disabled's lack of legal protection, there is 
growing societal awareness of the issue.

  Indigenous People

The Ainu, a people descended from the first inhabitants of Japan, now 
probably number fewer than 100,000; almost all of them live on Hokkaido, 
the northernmost of Japan's four main islands.  Their primary 
occupations are fishing, small-scale farming, and manual labor.  As a 
result of a law passed in 1899, the Former Aborigines Protection Act, 
the Ainu today control only approximately 0.15 percent of their original 
landholdings.  Ainu leaders continue to express grievances about this 
situation.  Meanwhile, the Ainu continue to face social discrimination 
while engaging in an uphill struggle against complete assimilation.

The Government has done little in response to Ainu grievances.  An 
interagency study group opened hearings in January 1990 with the stated 
goal of reviewing Ainu history and making recommendations, but it has 
not been active.  Additionally, in March the Government formed an 
advisory panel to the Chief Cabinet Secretary to focus on Ainu issues.  
The body is to issue a report following a 1-year discussion period.

In July 1994, Shigeru Kayano became the first Ainu member of the Diet 
when he gained a seat in the House of Councilors.  Kayano has drawn 
attention to Ainu issues.

  National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The ethnocentric nature of Japanese society, reinforced by a high degree 
of cultural and ethnic homogeneity and a history of isolation from other 
cultures, has impeded the integration of minority groups.  This 
primarily affects Burakumin, Koreans, and alien workers.  

The Burakumin (descendants of feudal era "outcasts" who practiced 
"unclean" professions such as butchering and undertaking), although not 
subject to governmental discrimination, are frequently victims of 
entrenched social discrimination including restricted access to housing 
and employment opportunities.  They are estimated to number 
approximately 3 million, but most prefer to hide their identity.  
Beginning in 1969, the Government introduced with some success a number 
of social, economic, and legal programs designed to improve conditions 
for the Burakumin and hasten their assimilation into mainstream Japanese 
society.  In recent years, however, some within the Burakumin community 
have questioned whether assimilation is an appropriate goal.  The 
Government has extended basic legislation to provide funding for 
Burakumin programs until 1997, but the Burakumin continue to lobby for a 
new law that will expand current programs.

Despite improvements in Japan's legal safeguards against discrimination, 
Korean permanent residents (most of whom were born, raised, and educated 
in Japan and who are estimated to number approximately 700,000) are 
still subject to various forms of deeply entrenched social 

In 1993 the Government halted the fingerprinting of permanent foreign 
residents.  Instead of fingerprinting, the Government has established a 
family registry system that uses the resident's picture and signature 
and contains information on parents and spouses living in Japan, a 
system similar to that used for Japanese nationals.  The current law 
leaves intact the requirement that all foreign residents carry alien 
registration certificates at all times.

In recent years, the Government has enacted several laws and regulations 
providing permanent resident aliens with equal access to public housing 
and loans, social security pensions for those qualified, and certain 
public employment rights.  

Some immigrants reportedly face police harassment and discrimination in 
obtaining housing, jobs, and health care.  In recognition of the 
difficulties faced by foreigners in these areas, the city of Tokyo has 
issued a law to prevent housing discrimination against foreigners.

The January 1991 Memorandum Between the Japanese and South Korean 
Governments extended employment rights to local government positions, 
giving each locality the authority to decide which jobs may be held by 
non-Japanese nationals.  Local governments are also being urged by the 
Government to allow Korean residents to take the Teacher Entrance 
Examination and to employ them on a full-time basis.  Private-sector 
employment and social discrimination are still common.  
Antidiscrimination laws affecting Korean residents were initiated as 
government guidance and are not supported by penalty provisions.  In the 
first court test of Japan's antidiscrimination laws, in September 1994 a 
second-generation Korean nurse sued the Tokyo metropolitan government on 
the grounds that she had been refused consideration for promotion 
because she is not Japanese.  The case is still pending.

By law, aliens with 5 years of continuous residence are eligible for 
naturalization and the simultaneous acquisition of citizenship rights, 
including the right to vote.  In fact, however, most eligible aliens 
choose not to apply for citizenship, in part due to fears that their 
cultural identity would thereby be lost.  De facto obstacles to 
naturalization include broad discretion available to adjudicating 
officers and great emphasis on Japanese language ability.  In February, 
the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not bar permanent 
foreign residents from voting in local elections.  However, the court 
also ruled that existing laws denying voting rights to foreign residents 
are not unconstitutional.

The Immigration Bureau of the Justice Ministry estimates that, as of May 
1995, there were 286,704 foreign nationals residing illegally in Japan, 
a decrease of 2 percent from the previous year.  Many are laborers from 
Southeast Asia, China, Iran, and South Korea.

While many of Japan's illegally resident foreigners came in search of 
better-paying manufacturing and construction jobs, these opportunities 
decreased during Japan's economic slowdown.  Thus, more of the foreign 
workers are unemployed or marginally employed.  Some illegal alien 
workers have been exploited.  Activist groups claim that, with little or 
no knowledge of the Japanese language or of their legal rights, 
employers can easily discriminate against foreign workers.  The 
Government attempts to deal with the problem of illegal workers within 
the bounds of existing law.  It has tried to reduce the inflow of 
illegal foreign workers by prosecuting employers.  Recent revisions of 
the Immigration Law provide for penalties against employers of 
undocumented foreign workers.  Suspected foreign workers may also be 
denied entry for passport, visa, and entry application irregularities.  
The Government continues to study the foreign worker issue, and several 
citizens' groups are working with illegal foreign workers to improve 
their access to information on worker rights.

Section 6  Worker Rights

  a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution provides for the right of workers to associate freely 
in unions.  Approximately 24 percent of the active work force belongs to 
unions.  Unions are free of government control and influence.  Most 
unions are involved in political activity as well as labor relations, 
but they are not controlled by political parties.  The Japanese Trade 
Union Confederation (RENGO), which represents 7.8 million Japanese 
workers and was formed in 1989 through the merger of several 
confederations, is Japan's largest labor organization.  There is no 
requirement for a single trade union structure, and there are no 
restrictions on who may be a union official.  Members of the armed 
forces, police, and firefighters, however, are not permitted to form 
unions or to strike.

In 1995 Japan made progress on the 20-year-long dispute before the 
International Labor Organization's Committee on the Application of 
Recommendations and Conventions involving the right of firefighters to 
organize a union.  The Home Affairs Ministry and the Prefectural and 
Municipal Workers Union agreed to establish a consultation system to 
serve as a stopgap measure, while revision of the Local Officials Act is 
being studied with a view to allowing union organization by firefighters 
and other emergency workers (except police).

Unions are active in international bodies, most notably the 
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, and maintain extensive 
international contacts.  The right to strike, implicit in the 
Constitution, is exercised.  During 1994, 85,000 worker days were lost 
to strikes.  Japanese laws prohibit retribution against strikers and are 
effectively enforced.  Public employees do not have the right to strike, 
although they do have recourse to mediation and arbitration.  The 
Government determines the pay of government employees based on a 
recommendation by the independent National Personnel Authority.

  b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Constitution provides unions with the right to organize, bargain, 
and act collectively.  These rights are exercised freely, and collective 
bargaining is practiced widely.  The annual "Spring Wage Offensive," in 
which individual unions in each industry conduct negotiations 
simultaneously with their firms, involves nationwide participation.  
Management usually consults closely with its enterprise union.  However, 
trade unions are independent of management and aggressively pursue the 
interests of their workers.  Antiunion discrimination is prohibited by 
law and adequate mechanisms exist for resolving such cases as do exist.  
A high-profile example still pending concerns the privatization of the 
national railway system in 1986.  The East Japan Railway Company and 
some of the other private successor companies of the Japan National 
Railway refused to offer employment to thousands of former employees who 
were union members.  Fourteen cases related to this matter have been 
filed with the Central Labor Commission.  Two have been decided in favor 
of the workers but are under appeal by management, and the other 12 were 
still pending at year's end.

There are no export processing zones.

  c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Labor Standards Law prohibits the use of forced labor, and there are 
no known cases of forced or compulsory labor.  

  d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Under the revised Labor Standards Law of 1987, minors under 15 years of 
age may not be employed as workers, and those under the age of 18 years 
may not be employed in dangerous or harmful work.  The Labor Inspection 
Division of the Ministry of Labor rigorously enforces child labor laws.

  e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Minister of Labor or the Director of the Prefectural Labor Standards 
Office administratively determines minimum wages, based usually on the 
recommendation of the Tripartite Minimum Wage Council.  Minimum wage 
rates vary by industry and region.  In the Tokyo area, a steelworker's 
rate is $7.25 (708 yen) per hour.  The wage rates are sufficient to 
provide workers and their families with a decent living.  The Labor 
Standards Law provides for a 40-hour maximum workweek in most 

The Ministry of Labor effectively administers various laws and 
regulations governing occupational health and safety, principal among 
which is the Industrial Safety and Health Law of 1972.  Standards are 
set by the Ministry of Labor and issued after consultation with the 
Standing Committee on Safety and Health of the Tripartite Labor 
Standards Commission.  Labor inspectors have the authority to suspend 
unsafe operations immediately, and the law provides that workers may 
voice concerns over occupational safety and remove themselves from 
unsafe working conditions without jeopardizing their continued 


[end of document]


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