The reality of human rights violations in Japan


Most people don’t constantly think about the meaning of the word “human rights” in their day-to-day lives.

It is often only when individuals personally experience human rights violations, undergo suffering and distress, that they begin to truly grasp its significance.

Surprisingly, Japan is a country with a significant issue of human rights violations.

There are areas where it is even criticized from abroad, prompting questions like, “Is it a country stuck in the Middle Ages?”

In the following, I will provide concrete examples to elaborate on this issue.

Criminal Justice System in Japan: A System of Mass-Producing Wrongful Convictions

  • Lawyers are not allowed to be present during interrogations after arrest.
  • Intimidating interrogations, conducted day and night, coerce false confessions.
  • Detainment in police custody can last up to 23 days (extendable indefinitely with re-arrest).
  • Judges often favor the prosecution’s arguments, including false confessions, leaving the defense at a significant disadvantage.

It is not an exaggeration to describe Japan’s criminal justice system as a mass-production system for wrongful convictions.

Some individuals have received death sentences based on false charges, enduring decades of imprisonment.

At the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva, Japan’s criminal justice system was ridiculed with the statement, “Japan’s criminal justice system seems medieval,” and unfortunately, there was little room for a credible rebuttal.

Proliferation of Long Working Hours and Overwork Deaths in “Black Companies”

During the tenure of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, when he was still alive, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) actively endorsed the founder of a black company in elections.

In other words, they publicly acknowledged the existence of black companies and incorporated their interests into policies.

On the flip side, there is little concern for the victims who have succumbed to the harsh working conditions imposed by black companies.

With the LDP, having a blatant disregard for human rights, dominating the political landscape for decades, the inevitable decline of Japanese society becomes unsurprising.

Health Impacts of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster:

The former Abe administration left millions of citizens in areas requiring designation as high radiation management zones neglected, showing reluctance towards conducting health surveys.

Survey results were kept from the individuals affected, and cover-ups were rampant.

They used contaminated food in school meals, all the while promoting their “safety.”

The egregious nature of these actions leaves one at a loss for words.

They even mobilized children for volunteer activities, such as road cleaning near the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Despite the potential dangers of internal radiation exposure, adults turned a blind eye.

Their silence is not just a sin but an active complicity in clear human rights violations.

Violation of the Right to Education:

The determination of the level of education one can receive based on the economic strength of the family they were born into is a significant issue.

Restricting the future options of the younger generation due to factors beyond their control is a clear violation of human rights and, moreover, a violation of the constitution.

Japan stands out as an anomaly by burdening students with loans disguised as scholarships, a practice not commonly observed worldwide.

What is considered normal in Japan appears to be absurd on the global stage.

The global trend is moving towards “tuition-free education up to graduate school.”

Harassment of Welfare Recipients:

Despite fraudulent cases accounting for only around 0.4% of total welfare recipients, there is widespread propaganda suggesting that all recipients are engaged in fraudulent activities.

On the other hand, only about 20% of those eligible for welfare actually utilize the system (capture rate).

The system remains difficult to access.

While reducing the welfare support to the impoverished, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) persists in favoring policies that benefit the affluent.

It is truly lamentable that some politicians, without acknowledging the grim reality of welfare support, casually spread baseless defamation and misinformation about recipients.

Proliferation of Child Pornography:

“Imagine how children would feel if they saw adults enjoying manga or anime depicting the rape of children…”

A bit of imagination is required here.

There is a growing trend of disregarding people’s feelings and treating them as mere objects.

Damages Caused by the U.S. Military Presence in Okinawa:

U.S. military bases, covering a quarter of Okinawa’s land area, have been responsible for various human rights violations, including noise pollution, aircraft crashes, and sexual assault.

These bases, which are essentially unnecessary, continue to exist due to the eagerness of successive Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) administrations to appease the United States, offering substantial amounts of generous budgets to maintain their presence.

Meanwhile, the voices of Okinawa residents who are victims of human rights violations are ignored, and policies are “quietly” pushed forward.

Police violence against residents protesting the Henoko relocation issue has also become a significant concern.


I’ve discribed various instances of human rights violations, some of which may not be widely known.

However, all these cases are factual, representing an inconvenient and ugly reality.

Japan’s current state, as revealed by these examples, falls short of the ideals set by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Beyond government slogans, it is crucial for each individual in Japan to address issues in their immediate surroundings.

It’s a call for both awareness and action to improve the human rights landscape in the country.