Economic Diplomacy

February 20, 2024

1. Outline of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct

  • (1) In 1976, the OECD formulated the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises to set out recommendations and expectations regarding the activities of multinational enterprises from the Guidelines adhering countries. The Guidelines have been revised six times—in 1979, 1984, 1991, 2000, 2011 and 2023—in line with the development of the world economy and changes in corporate behavior. At present, in addition to 38 OECD member countries, 13 non-member countries, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Peru, Romania, Tunisia, Ukraine, and Uruguay adhere to the Guidelines.
  • (2) The Guidelines are not legally binding but provide principles and standards for responsible business conduct across a range of fields, including general policies and policies on disclosure, human rights, employment and industrial relations, environment, combating bribery and other forms of corruption, consumer interests, science, technology and innovation, competition, and taxation.
  • (3) The Guidelines’ previous revision was made in 2011 to include a chapter on human rights and provide for enterprises’ responsibility to respect human rights and also to add other provisions including that on the implementation of risk-based due diligence for enterprises to perform as part of their risk management to identify, prevent, and mitigate the actual and potential adverse impacts that they may cause or contribute to causing. (Please refer to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises 2011 Edition (PDF)Open a New Window.)
  • (4) The most recent update of the Guidelines in 2023, 12 years after the previous revision, includes new provisions clarifying the scope of application of due diligence by enterprises to downstream in their supply chains, expectations for enterprises to align with internationally agreed targets on climate change and biodiversity, and expectations for due diligence on technology, including data collection and use, among others. Also, the title was changed to the “Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business conduct”. (Please refer to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct (2023, PDF)Open a New Window.)

2. National Contact Points (NCPs)

  • (1) The 2000 Edition provides for the establishment in each country of national contact points (NCPs), which are intended to promote the widespread use of the Guidelines, respond to inquiries about the Guidelines, and support the resolution of specific instances. The 2011 Edition has enhanced the function of the NCP to assist the resolution of specific instances. The update in 2023 strengthened provisons in order to ensure the effectiveness of NCPs. The NCPs meet regularly at the OECD and report their activities to the OECD Investment Committee.
  • (2) The Implementation Procedures of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises contains the Procedures, that details the structure of the NCPs, considerations to be made for its NCP activities, and the workings of the OECD Investment Committee.
  • (3) Please see the NCP short video (YouTube)Open a New Window made by OECD in June 2021.

3. About the Japanese NCP

  • (1) The Japanese NCP was established in 2000 and is composed of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
  • (2) In July 2008, the Japanese NCP Committee was established, composed of the Japanese NCP, Keidanren (Japanese Business Federation) on behalf of industry, and Rengo (Japanese Trade Union Confederation) on behalf of workers. The Committee meets on a regular basis. (For details, please refer to the PDF document (PDF)Open a New Window .)

4. Case-handling process of the Japanese NCP

  • (1) Case-handling procedures of the Japanese NCP
  • (2) If you wish to file a specific instance with the Japanese NCP, please fill out this form (Japanese (Word) / English (Word)), and email it as an attachment to the Japanese NCP as shown below.
  • [Contact information]: OECD Division, Economic Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    (Address) 2-2-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8919, Japan

    (Tel.) +81-(0)3-5501-8348

    (Email) jpn-ncp@mofa.go.jp

  • (3) Upon receipt of a complaint document, the Japanese NCP will send a letter of receipt to the complainant in line with the Procedural Guidance for the Japanese National Contact Point (NCP). (For details, please refer to the PDF document (PDF)Open a New Window)
  • (4) The Japanese NCP will make an initial assessment regarding whether the complaint “merits further examination.” and subsequently notify the parties involved of the assessment result.
  • (5) When the Japanese NCP decides that the complaint merits further examination, the NCP will assist the parties involved in seeking solution by suggesting mediation. In a case where the NCP decides that the complaint does not merit further examination, the NCP will issue such statement.
  • (6) When the parties involved reach an agreement about the complaint, the NCP will issue a report. When no agreement is reached or a party is unwilling to participate in the NCP procedures, the NCP will issue a statement.

5. Specific instances handled by the Japanese NCP (for which the procedures have been closed)

7. Reference: Structure and outline of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct (2023 Edition)

Preface Explanations about the basic nature of and background to the Guidelines
I. Concepts and Principles The Guidelines provide multinational enterprises with principles and standards of good practice. Observance of the Guidelines by enterprises is voluntary and not legally enforceable. Governments adhering to the Guidelines promote them and establish National Contact Points (NCPs) While the Guidelines revised in 2023 continue to not define precisely on the multinational enterprises, they added that the main factors to consider in this regard are the international nature of an enterprise’s structure or activities and its commercial form, purpose, or activities.
II. General Policies Enterprises should conduct activities in such a way as to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development, respect for human rights, capacity building, human capital formation, and maintenance of good corporate governance. The Guidelines introduced risk-based due diligence as a major tool for enterprises to identify, prevent, and mitigate the adverse impacts caused by their activities including those conducted across their supply chains. The 2023 revision clarifies the scope of due diligence to the downstream of the supply chain, by explicitly including subcontractors, franchisees, customers, joint venture partners, etc., and states that companies should prioritize entities with higher due diligence risk when there are many subcontractors and other related parties.
III. Disclosure Enterprises should ensure that timely and accurate information is disclosed regarding their activities, structure, financial situation, performance, and others. This chapter lists the material information that enterprises should disclose and the information that enterprises are encouraged to disclose. The 2023 revision reflects the growing expectations for the disclosure of not only financial information but also information on responsible business conduct, including human rights and the environment related information. It also ensures consistency with the G20/OECD Principles of Corporate Governance.
IV. Human Rights (Chapter newly established in 2011) Enterprises should respect human rights and carry out human rights due diligence appropriately in their own and their business partners’ activities and others. The 2023 revision emphasizes the description of human rights defenders and indigenous people.
V. Employment and Industrial Relations Enterprises should respect the rights of workers, provide them with necessary information, promote cooperation between employers and workers, provide the best possible work conditions when operating in developing countries, provide training, and provide reasonable notice of collective layoffs. The 2023 revision emphasizes the importance of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.
VI. Environment Enterprises should take due account of the need to protect the environment, public health, and safety toward the goal of achieving sustainable development. The 2023 revision clarifies expectations for responsible business conduct regarding challenges such as climate change and biodiversity. For the first time, it specifies responsibility of enterprises for climate change mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing absorption by forests and others) and adaptation (reducing adverse impacts by adjusting natural ecosystems and social and economic systems, etc.).
VII. Combating Bribery and Other Forms of Corruption Enterprises should not offer, promise, give, or demand a bribe or other undue advantage. The 2011 revision expands the scope to include the prevention of bribery demands and extortion of money and goods, and mentions small facilitation payments.
VIII. Consumer Interests Enterprises should act in accordance with fair business, marketing, and advertising practices and should take all reasonable steps to ensure the quality and reliability of the goods and services that they provide. They should respect consumer privacy, prevent deceptive marketing practices, and take into consideration the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers and the specific challenges that may be posed by e-commerce.
IX. Science, Technology and Innovation Enterprises should contribute to the development of innovative capacity of host countries and to the transfer of technologies and know-how to the countries. The 2023 revision reflects the development of digital transformation (DX) and specifies the expectation for the implementation of risk-based due diligence on the development, sale and use of technology by enterprises.
X. Competition Enterprises should carry out their activities in a manner consistent with all applicable competition laws and regulations.
XI. Taxation Enterprises should contribute to the public finances of host countries by making timely payment of their tax liabilities.

Back to Economic Diplomacy