Democracy and rights
Abbreviated as JPN by Abbreviationfinder, Japan has a democratic governance with multi-party systems, universal suffrage and elections conducted under free and fair forms. Human rights are protected in legislation as well as in practice. One problem, however, is that women do not yet have the same opportunities as men in politics and government.
Japan is one of the countries in Asia that is considered as democracies. There is a good respect for political and civil rights. The Japanese can get involved in party politics and civil society without obstacles and parties, non-governmental organizations and trade unions can operate freely. Demonstrations that take place under calm and peaceful conditions are common.
- Countryaah: Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Japan, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
Parliament has adopted new anti-terrorism legislation, which has been criticized by some Japanese for giving the authorities too much leeway in surveillance of residents, which may restrict individual freedom.
What is highlighted as less good in evaluations of the human rights situation in the country is that there is still some discrimination against women and ethnic minorities in society and in public life in particular. Although women are politically engaged and the proportion of women voting is at least as high as among men, women are under-represented on government posts and within the state apparatus. In recent years, the Government has made great efforts to improve women’s conditions. According to a new law, for example, political parties must strive to have as many men as women on their ballots. After the October 2017 election, only about a tenth of the members were women, and in the same year only three of the governors in the country’s 47 prefectures were women.
Corruption is less prevalent among politicians and government agencies. It is not uncommon for government officials and government officials to have strong connections to business peaks, according to research reports. Independent experts have criticized the fact that former heads of government and officials in the state apparatus often receive well-paid employment in private companies that have government business contracts. Media often report on ministers and government officials investigating suspected corruption or financial irregularities.
Another side of the corruption in society is Japan’s widely mentioned mafia organizations (yakuza), which have great financial interests but whose real power is difficult to pin down.
In recent years, the Transparency International organization has ranked Japan in 18 of 180 countries (see here).
Freedom of expression and media
The constitution guarantees freedom of expression and pressure, which is also generally respected. However, the system of special press clubs where journalists and representatives of government and political management bodies meet leads to some self-censorship. For example, at the official press conferences after the 2011 tsunami, freelancers and reporters from foreign media were excluded.
There is legislation that makes it possible to request documents from government agencies and authorities and according to a law from 2014, information that is not secretly registered must be disclosed. However, the law is controversial and has been criticized for punishing those who are perceived to have spread secretly stamped material. For example, journalists could be brought to trial for revealing state secrets if they received the information “illegally” and even if they did not know that the material was secretly stamped. The penalty can be years of imprisonment and fines. See Reporters Without Borders Ranking of Press Freedom in Japan here.
There are no restrictions on freedom of expression on the internet and no censorship exists.
Judicial system and legal security
The judiciary is independent and the right to a fair and public trial is statutory. Courts can hold trials that are not public if there are special reasons. But when it comes to political crimes or issues related to mass media or rights issues, the trials must be open.
Crime is relatively low and violent crimes are few compared to other industrialized countries. At the same time, the proportion of crimes committed is high, which is attributed to both the efficiency of the police and cooperation with the public. In recent decades, however, crime has increased and the proportion of solved crime cases has dropped.
The conditions in the country’s prisons have in many contexts been criticized for poor access to medical care and medicines. There are also reports of assault by police and prison staff.
Japan applies capital punishment by hanging in particularly serious murder cases, which has been criticized by human rights organizations. Often executions are postponed for many years, which is explained by giving time for any new facts to be presented. Once the executions are carried out, it usually takes place at very short notice and relatives are not informed until afterwards. From 2012 to 2016, 23 people were executed.
In 2016, the Japanese lawyer community decided for the first time to work to abolish the death penalty. Several civil society organizations are also actively working on the death penalty.
The Japanese legal system has been criticized for long detention times. Suspects are detained in cells at the police station, so-called replacement prisons (daiyo kangoku), pending prosecution. It is common for suspected criminals to spend a maximum of 23 days in this type of detention without any formal prosecution being brought.
Deadlock around Okinawa breaks
The stalemate in the tough battle over the US large air base on the island of Okinawa appears to be broken when the island’s governor approves plans to relocate the base from central Okinawa to a more sparsely populated area in the north. The governor gives a go-ahead to the construction of the new base a few days after he was awakened by Prime Minister Abe and promised annual financial stimulus packages to Okinawa until 2021. The decision to relocate the base immediately provokes protests from the islanders who oppose the US presence on Okinawa.
Controversial visit to temples
Prime Minister Abe provokes angry reactions in China and South Korea when he, as the first head of government since 2006, visits the Yasukuni Temple set up to honor Japanese war victims.
New security policy strategy
The Government presents a new national strategy for security policy, which includes increased defense spending. In addition, a national security council has been set up by Prime Minister Abe.
New controversial secret act
Parliament’s House of Lords approves a new controversial confidentiality law that, among other things, extends the possibilities for authorities to secretly stamp documents and raises penalties for those who leak information to the media.
Resolution condemns Chinese flight zone
Parliament’s lower house adopts a resolution condemning China’s introduction of a flight zone over the East China Sea and the Senkaku / Diaoyu Islands, which both Japan and China claim. The resolution calls for China to withdraw the zone.
Changing climate targets is criticized
The Japanese government decides to abandon the ambitious target of 2009 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent in 2020 based on 1990 levels. A new target is set to reduce emission levels in 2005 by 3.8 percent by 2020. Compared to 1990, an increase of 3 percent. Japan faces harsh criticism from the UN Climate Summit in Warsaw for the decision. The fact that the Japanese government changed the country’s climate targets is a result of the nuclear accident in Fukushima in 2011. After that, the country closed just over 50 nuclear reactors, which meant that the country had to import large quantities of natural gas and coal, which in turn helped to significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions.
New radioactive leak
A new leak is discovered in the Fukushima plant. The radioactive water may have leaked into the Pacific.
Investment in gas and coal
By the end of 2014, 14 new gas and coal power plants will be up and running. The new power plants are investing in reducing the expensive oil imports and the use of nuclear power.
Tokyo hosts the Winter Olympics
Tokyo is named host of the 2020 Winter Olympics.
Nuclear power in Ohi is shut down
The two Ohi nuclear reactors that were started in July 2012 will be closed again.
Leakage should be stopped
The government will invest $ 470 million to stop the radioactive leak from Fukushima.
Serious radioactive leakage
The authority responsible for nuclear power monitoring is seriously considering that it leaks radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant and wants to upgrade the leak to a higher level (from 1 to 3) on an international seven-degree scale of problems and accidents at nuclear power plants. At least 300 tonnes of radioactive water have leaked.
Japanese casualties are honored
A couple of ministers and many MPs visit the Yasukuni Temple on the anniversary of Japan’s capitulation in World War II to honor Japanese casualties.
Continued leakage from Fukushima
After a report that it continues to leak large quantities of radioactive water from Fukushima, Prime Minister Abe promises to take comprehensive action.
Profit for LDP
LDP wins the election to the upper house. Together with his ally New Komeito, the LDP receives 76 of the 121 seats that are at stake (elections are held to half of the seats in the upper house every three years). Thus, the government controls 135 of the total 242 seats, and for the first time in six years, the incumbent government has a stable majority in both chambers of parliament. The largest opposition party, DPJ, makes its worst election in 15 years, winning only 17 seats and thus has over 59 of the upper house seats.
“Abenomics” has a positive effect
Prime Minister Abe’s economic policy, nicknamed “Abenomics”, has had positive effects. The yen has fallen to the lowest level in more than four years, share prices have risen by nearly 70 percent since autumn 2012, and several large export companies, such as Sony and Toyota, are showing profits. Consumers spend more and the economic growth rate increases to 4 percent.
Record trade deficit
Japan has recorded a record trade deficit for the last twelve months to 31 March.
Strong action against deflation
The Japanese central bank led by its new governor Haruhiko Kuroda is taking extremely powerful measures to cope with the deflation (falling prices) that has characterized Japan for almost 15 years. The goal is to achieve inflation of 2 percent. Among other things, the Bank of Japan decided to double its money supply and buy Japanese government securities for 100 trillion yen in two years.
Sentenced to death
Three convicted prisoners are executed.
Another stimulus package
The Government announces that another stimulus package will be used to turn the recession into economic growth. Nearly $ 116 billion will go to, among other things, infrastructure projects and measures to encourage companies to invest.