Every Child

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UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination


The UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) condemn racial discrimination and advocates a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting understanding among all races.  It requires each State Party to prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination by any persons, group or organization.  This applies to discrimination in family courts, with respect to granting child custody, visitation and any related policies.

Although signed and ratified by Japan, the Japanese Supreme Court has let stand a ruling by a lower court that "this duty is no more than a political one, and concerning matters between individual citizens" and in fact that the [city government] is under no clear and absolute (ichigiteki) obligation to prohibit or bring to an end concrete examples of racial discrimination by establishing local laws (jourei)"  (See http://www.debito.org/appealhearingtwo.html for details about the Otaru Onsen case.)  A lawsuit against the national government of Japan calling for a law against racial discrimination is being planned to start in 2006.

Additionally, the above decision referred to something called "Rational Discrimination" (gouriteki sabetsu - not to be confused with "racial discrimination") but failed to give objective criteria. In any case, Rational Discrimination has been dismissed by the UN.

  1. Adopted: General Assembly resolution 2106 of 21 December 1965

  2. Entry into force: 4 January 1969, in accordance with Article 19

Japan Status

  1. Accession: January 14, 1996

Other country Status

  1. Widely signed.

CRN Japan Position

  1. Highly supportive - details still to be written.

Practical Application To Cases in Japan

Despite the refusal of the Supreme Court to force the city of Otaru to pass laws against racial discrimination, the overall case acknowledged and punished discrimination by the Otaru Onsen.  Other cases of individual discrimination have also been recently successful in Japan, and others are ongoing. We believe that racial discrimination against non-Japanese occurs in Japanese Family Court and in higher courts, but this is difficult to substantiate.  If you can acquire evidence of  racial discrimination in the courts, you should be able to use this treaty in a Japanese court.  We suggest that you get copies of all Japanese language court documents in your case, and save them for future reference.  Do not leave them with your lawyer, as s/he may not be enthusiastic about pursuing a case based on racial discrimination in the future.

Sources of Treaty

  1. English Source (cached copy)

  2. Japanese Source (cached copy)

Accepts Individual Complaints?

  1. Unknown

Additional Information

  1. "Kunibengodan" Lawsuit Against Japan's National Government to enact a law against racial discrimination

  2. Information on the Otaru Onsen case and other human rights activities in Japan.

The information on this website concerns a matter of public interest, and is provided for educational and informational purposes only in order to raise public awareness of issues concerning left-behind parents. Unless otherwise indicated, the writers and translators of this website are not lawyers nor professional translators, so be sure to confirm anything important with your own lawyer.

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