Are The Current Standards of Reporting on Japan Adequate?

If you take a look at page 172 of the 2009 UNODC Global Report on Trafficking In Persons, you’ll see the section I discussed in my last post. I’ve taken another look at the 2008 Trafficking In Persons Report from the U.S. State Department and found somthing which the UNODC had overlooked:

Japanese law does not prohibit recruitment of laborers using knowingly fraudulent or deceptive offers for purposes of forced labor.

If the section on institutional framework was far from comprehensive, but the sections are somewhat misleading, if the U.S. State Department is to be believed.

In its criminal justice response section, the UNODC report gives some figures on the number of convictions, but lets compare that with the 2010 TIP Report:

The government demonstrated diminished effort to identify and protect victims of trafficking during the reporting period. The number of trafficking victims identified overall by the Japanese government declined for the fourth consecutive year.

In the services provided to victims section, the UNODC tells us that all is well. Here is the entire section:

State authorities provide legal protection, temporary stay permits, medical and psychosocial support, and housing and shelter as well as repatriation assistance for victims of trafficking. NGOs and international organizations also offer housing and shelter as well as repatriation assistance.

Compare that to the damning report from the U.S. State Department:

  • The government did not identify any male victims of trafficking, nor did it have any shelters available to male victims.
  • Informed observers continue to report that the government is not proactive in searching for victims among vulnerable populations.
  • All of the 17 identified victims were detained in government shelters for domestic violence victims – Women’s Consulting Centers (WCCs) – that denied victims freedom of movement.
  • Authorities have never identified a trafficking victim in the large population of foreign laborers in Japan, including in the “foreign trainee program.”
  • The government appears to do a poor job of informing trafficking victims that legal redress or compensation through a criminal or civil suit is possible under Japanese law.
  • Although the government claims the availability of a long-term residency visa for trafficking victims, no foreign victims have ever been granted such a visa.

The report also had positive things to say about Japan, but the point I’m making is that the UN document appears to have failed in providing adequate visibility on the reality faced by victims of human trafficking in this country. No shelters for male victims? The government may point to the fact that no men were confirmed as victims, but then again, there have allegedly been hundreds of reports of abuses in the foreign trainee program which have never been investigated.

The standard of reporting makes learning about the issues and understanding their urgency somewhat frustrating.

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