CERD Concluding Observations – 76th session – February 2010

Abstracts relevant to the Buraku issue:

  • 8. While noting existing national and local provisions guaranteeing equality before the law, including article 14 of the Constitution, the Committee highlights that the grounds of discrimination in article 1 of the Convention are not fully covered. Further, while the Committee regrets the State party’s interpretation of racial discrimination based on descent, it is encouraged by information on steps taken by the State party in the spirit of the Convention to prevent and eliminate discrimination against Burakumin (art. 1).

The Committee maintains its position expressed in general recommendation No. 29 (2002) “that discrimination based on ‘descent’ has a meaning and application which complement the other prohibited grounds of discrimination and includes discrimination against members of communities based on forms of social stratification and analogous systems of inherited status which nullify or impair their equal enjoyment of human rights.” Moreover, the Committee reaffirms that the term “descent” in article 1, paragraph 1, the Convention does not solely refer to “race” and that discrimination on the ground of descent is fully covered by article 1 of the Convention. The Committee, therefore, urges the State party to adopt a comprehensive definition of racial discrimination in conformity with the Convention.

  • 9. The Committee notes the State party’s view that a national anti-discrimination law is not necessary and is concerned about the consequent inability of individuals or groups to seek legal redress for discrimination (art. 2).

The Committee reiterates its recommendation from previous concluding observations (2001) and urges the State party to consider adopting specific legislation to outlaw direct and indirect racial discrimination, in accordance with article 1 of the Convention, and to cover all rights protected by the Convention.  It also encourages the State party to ensure that law enforcement officials approached with complaints of racial discrimination have adequate expertise and authority to deal with offenders and to protect victims of discrimination.

  • 10. While noting with interest that the State party held consultations and informal hearings with non-governmental organizations and other groups in the drafting of the report, the Committee regrets the limited opportunities for collection and exchange of information with such organizations and groups.

The Committee notes the positive contributions made in the field of human rights and the role played by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Japan and encourages the State party to ensure the effective participation of NGOs in the consultation process during the preparation of the next periodic report.

  • 13. While noting the explanations provided by the State party, the Committee is concerned by the reservations to articles 4 (a) and (b) of the Convention. The Committee also notes with concern the continued incidence of explicit and crude statements and actions directed at groups including children attending Korean schools as well as harmful, racist expressions and attacks via the Internet aimed, in particular, against Burakumin (arts. 4a, 4b).

The Committee reiterates its view that the prohibition of the dissemination of ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred is compatible with freedom of opinion and expression and in this respect, encourages the State party to examine the need to maintain its reservations to article 4 (a) and (b) of the Convention with a view to reducing their scope and preferably their withdrawal. The Committee recalls that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, in particular the obligation not to disseminate racist ideas and calls upon the State party once again to take into account the Committee’s general recommendations No. 7 (1985) and No. 15 (1993), according to which article 4 is of mandatory nature, given the non-self-executing character of its provisions.

  • It recommends that the State party:
    • a) Remedy the absence of legislation to give full effect to the provisions against discrimination under article 4;
    • (b) ensure that relevant constitutional, civil and criminal law provisions are effectively implemented, including through additional steps to address hateful and racist manifestations by, inter alia, enhancing efforts to investigate them and punish those involved; and
    • (c) increase sensitization and awareness-raising campaigns against the dissemination of racist ideas and to prevent racially motivated offences including hate speech and racist propaganda on the Internet. 


  • 18. While acknowledging the State party’s position on the family registration system, and noting the legislative changes made to protect personal information (2008), the Committee reiterates its concern about the difficulties in the system and that invasion of privacy, mainly of Burakumin, continues (art. 2, 5).

The Committee recommends the enacting of a stricter law, with punitive measures, prohibiting use of the family registration system for discriminatory purposes, particularly in the fields of employment, marriage and housing, and to effectively protect privacy of individuals.

  • 19. Noting with interest the State party’s recognition of discrimination against Burakumin as a social problem as well as the achievements of the Dowa Special Measures Law, the Committee is concerned that the conditions agreed between the State party and Buraku organizations upon termination in 2002 regarding full implementation of the Convention, the enactment of a law on human rights protection and a law on the promotion of human rights education, have not been fulfilled to date. The Committee regrets that there is no public authority specifically mandated to deal with Burakumin discrimination cases and notes the absence of a uniform concept used by the State party when dealing with or referring to Burakumin and policies. Further, the Committee notes with concern that although socio-economic gaps between Burakumin and others have narrowed for some Burakumin, e.g., in the physical living environment and education, they remain in areas of public life such as employment and marriage discrimination, housing and land values. It further regrets the lack of indicators to measure progress in the situation of Burakumin (art. 2, 5).
  • The Committee recommends that the State party:
    • (a) Assign a specific government agency or committee mandated to deal with Buraku issues;
    • (b) fulfil the commitments made upon the termination of the Special  Measures Law;
    • (c) engage in consultation with relevant persons to adopt a clear and uniform definition of Burakumin;
    • (d) supplement programmes for the improvement of living conditions of  Buraku with human rights education and awareness-raising efforts engaging the general public, particularly in areas housing Buraku communities;
    • (e) provide statistical indicators reflecting the situation and progress of the above-mentioned measures; and
    • (f) take into account general recommendation No. 32 (2009) on special measures, including the recommendation that special measures are to be terminated when equality between the beneficiary groups and others has been sustainably achieved.

      The Committee recommends that the State party submit its seventh, eight and ninth  periodic reports, due on  14 January  2013, taking into account the guidelines for the CERD-specific document adopted by the Committee during its seventy-first session (CERD/C/2007/1), and that it address all points raised in the present concluding observations.

  • Read the full text of the Concluding Observations
  • Abstracts of report by the UN Special Rapporteur on racism following hiscountry visit to Japan (2005)
  • UN treaty body reviews of Japan (relevant to the Buraku issue)
  • UN Sub-Commission study on discrimination based on work and descent