Japanese Laws Related to Human Trafficking

Looking at the 2009 UNODC Global Report on Trafficking In Persons, it’s disquieting to see how little information there was on Japan. Here’s the entire section on the institutional framework in this country:

Japan introduced the offense of “buying and selling human beings” in 2005. In addition, Article 2(7) of the Immigration Control Act defines trafficking in persons and criminalizes all forms of exploitation considered in Article 3 of the UN Trafficking Protocol. A national plan of action was adopted in 2004.

Actually, there are a number of laws in Japan which can relate to human trafficking.

However, the U.S. State Department’s 2010 Trafficking In Persons Report says “Japan does not have a comprehensive anti-trafficking laws, and does not keep statistics on the number of trafficking cases it investigates and prosecutes.” I thought I’d share some more of the information I’ve confirmed on Japanese law, though my research is ongoing…

The law regarding the buying and selling of human beings which was mentioned in the UNODC report can be found in Article 226-2 of the Penal Code:

(1) A person who buys another shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not less than 3 months but not more than 5 years.
(2) A person who buys a minor shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not less than 3 months but not more than 7 years.
(3) A person who buys another for the purpose of profit, indecency, marriage or threat to the life or body, shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not less than 1 year but not more than 10 years,
(4) The preceding paragraph shall apply to a person who sells another.
(5) A person who sells or buys another for the purpose of transporting him/her from one country to another country shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not less than 2 years.

Here is Article 2(7) of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, which was last amended in 2009 (the amendment came into effect in July 2010):

The term “trafficking in persons” means any of the following acts:

(a). The Kidnapping or the buying or selling of persons for the purpose of making a profit, committing an indecent act or causing injury to their life or physical being, or delivering, receiving, transporting or harboring such persons who have been kidnapped or bought or sold;

(b). Except for the acts set forth in Sub-item (a), placing persons under the age of 18 under one’s own control for the purpose of making a profit, committing an indecent act or causing injury to their life or physical being;

(c). Except for the acts set forth in Sub-item (a), delivering persons under the age of 18, knowing that they will be or might be placed under the control of a person who has the purpose of making a profit, committing an indecent act or causing injury to their life or physical being.

That’s all well and good until we look back at Article 1:

The purpose of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act is to provide for equitable control over the entry into or departure from Japan of all persons and to consolidate the procedures for recognition of refugee status.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as domestic human trafficking in Japanese law.

Interpol have a useful page for Japanese laws on sexual offenses against children (link updated).

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