Human Rights in Japan

 

Overview

Jinken, the Japanese word for human rights, appeared in the late 19th century. Yukichi Fukuzawa, a famous Japanese intellectual, coined the term at a time when Japan was opening up to European and American ideas and technology. Despite a late 19th century law that banned discrimination against a group of Japanese called Burakumin, the discrimination continued. This led to the formation of a levelers movement, called the National Levelers' Association (Zenkoku Suiheisha), in the 1920s. The movement adopted the so-calledSuiheisha Sengen (Suiheisha Declaration) in 1922, which the movement presently regards as an early Japanese human rights declaration. (See the Human Rights Declarations section in this website for the text of this document). It was the 1946 Constitution of Japan (Nihon Koku Kenpo) that formally adopted human rights, with a provision on “fundamental human rights” in Article 11. The 1946 Constitution also provides for women suffrage and the separation of state powers as a principle of democratic Japanese government.

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Major Issues

  • Police abuse
  • Hansen disease sufferers

PUBLICATIONS