The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Article 11

Article 25 of the Constitution stipulates that "All people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living."

1. The Right to an Adequate Standard of Living

(1) Data concerning the living standards of nationals
Table 12 shows the changes in income and consumption based on annual income class, according to the National Survey of Family Income and Expenditure. Based on these data, both annual income and consumption have been increasing in all classes of income.

Table 12. Changes in Annual Income and Consumption based on Income Class (Nationwide - All Households)
(Unit: 10,000 yen)
  Average First Second Third Fourth Fifth
Annual Income 1984 548 236 378 486 626 1,012
1989 665 276 447 584 761 1,258
1994 784 316 520 689 904 1,490
Annual Living Expenditure 1984 317 205 263 302 352 464
1989 366 233 302 347 412 537
1994 413 268 336 389 469 603
Note 1:Based on the "National Survey of Family Income and Expenditure" by the Statistics Bureau of the Management and Coordination Agency.

(2) Assistance for the poor
(a) Data concerning the poor
Since the data on GNP based on income class are not collected, there are no data per person for the poorest 40%. Moreover, a "poverty line" is not set in Japan.
(b) Economic security
The Daily Life Security Law provides Livelihood Assistance, Education Aid, Housing Assistance, Medical Assistance, Maternity Benefits, Unemployment Assistance,and Funeral Benefits for those in need. The amounts and criteria for such benefits are revised annually. The assistance benefits (in monthly amounts) for an average family of three (husband, wife, and one child) in the highest price-index areas (large cities such as Tokyo and Osaka) from 1986 to 1996 are shown in Table 13.

Table 13. Changes in the Standard Amount for Living Assistance
Fiscal year Amount of benefit
1986 126,977
1987 129,136
1988 130,944
1989 136,444
1990 140,674
1991 145,457
1992 149,966
1993 153,265
1994 155,717
1995 157,274
1996 158,375
1997 161,859

(3) Material Living Standard Index
Table 14 presents the number of consumer expenditure/household/month converted to expenditure based on a certain number of household members (four) and days (one month = 30.4 days), which is further converted into an index based on the 1995 standards and divided by the consumer price index (expenditure standard index).

Table 14. Index of Living Expenditures
Year Index
1985 91.1
1986 91.9
1987 93.8
1988 96.7
1989 97.7
1990 98.9
1991 100.6
1992 101.2
1993 101.3
1994 100.6
1995 100.0
1996 100.6
Note:Created based on the "Household Economic Survey Annual Report" by the Statistics Bureau of the Management and Coordination Agency.

2. Right to Adequate Food

(1) Outline
Food is a person's most basic commodity and assuring a stable supply of food and guaranteeing its security are objectives of fundamental importance for national policy. Therefore, the Government comprehensively implements necessary measures for improvement of agricultural productivity and the agricultural structure, rationalization of distribution and processing, and stabilization of agricultural product prices, to ensure a stable supply of food and measures for ensuring a stable supply of agricultural imports for which Japan depends upon overseas sources. In addition, the Government has stored provisions for emergencies. Furthermore, it has implemented various consumption measures to promote a healthy and well-balanced diet. As a result, an appropriate food supply has been achieved in Japan.
(2) Measures for maintaining an appropriate food supply
(a) Development and improvement of agricultural land and promotion of its utilization
In order to ensure a stable food supply in a country with limited land, the Government has implemented measures to develop and improve high-quality agricultural land as the foundation of agricultural production, as well as measures to promote its efficient use.
(b) Improvement of soil productivity
Under the Soil Productivity Improvement Law, the Government has made efforts for maintenance and improvement of soil productivity, which exerts a significant influence on the improvement of agricultural productivity and on the assurance of a stable food supply.
(c) Introduction and utilization of equipment and materials for agricultural production
The Government adopts measures to improve agricultural productivity and to ensure a safe food supply through the automation of agriculture, the maintenance of fertilizer quality, and the appropriate use of agricultural chemicals.
(d) Promotion of agricultural research and dissemination of agricultural technologies
The Government facilitates technical developments through intensive agricultural research and makes efforts to improve the productivity of agriculture and the quality of agricultural products through the rapid and appropriate dissemination of agricultural technology.
(e) Rationalization of the food distribution network
The Government facilitates food quality improvements, along with smooth and appropriate distribution, through proper labelling of food products, construction of wholesale markets for perishable foodstuffs, and promotion of structural reform in the distribution sector.
(f) Stable supply of staple foods
The Government has realized a stable supply of staple foods, such as rice and wheat, for nationals through supply and demand control and stabilized prices under the Food Control Law. The Government enacted the Law for Stabilization of Supply-Demand and Price of Staple Food (hereinafter "the Staple Food Law") in December 1994 and abolished the Food Control Law as reforms of the domestic system for the implementation of the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (WTO). Under the Staple Food Law, the Government makes efforts to stabilize the supply of staple foods such as rice and wheat.
(g) Price stabilization for agricultural products
To protect the livelihood of the nation from the undesirable effects caused by excessive changes in agricultural prices, the Government has adopted a price stabilization policy for agricultural products in accordance with the characteristics of each product and thus has achieved a stable food supply with stable prices.
(h) Plant protection and animal quarantine
The Government facilitates safety and improvement of agricultural productivity through the elimination of outbreaks of plant pests and the prevention of the spread of diseases, and encourages the promotion of livestock breeding through the prevention of the outbreak and spread of infectious diseases.
(3) Influence of the environment and food production resources on the above measures
Rice paddies, the traditional basis of agricultural land in Japan, have a role in preserving the environment and the effect on the environment by increased use of materials and machinery in rice paddies has not yet been clarified. However, while the increased use of machinery and materials, such as fertilizers and agricultural chemicals since the period of high growth, has increased the productivity of agriculture, their adverse impact on the environment increases if used excessively. For example, there have been cases where nitrogen and phosphorus flow into lakes and ponds from agricultural land, which has led to deterioration of water quality.
Projects for agricultural land improvement, such as land readjustment and the development of agricultural drainage facilities, contribute to the maintenance of agricultural and environmental preservation, as a result of the increase in labour productivity and the continuation of agricultural land use. Furthermore, projects which take account of the agricultural ecosystem are being sought.
To ensure continuous and stable agricultural production, while at the same time maintaining and increasing the environmental preservation function of agriculture, Japan has recognized that the establishment of a harmonized environmental preservation-style agriculture (sustainable agriculture). This can be facilitated by minimizing the burden on the environment and promoting recycling in the agricultural sector.
(4) Reform of the agricultural land system
After World War II, between 1945 and 1946, Japan introduced the Agricultural Land Adjustment Law to increase agricultural productivity and to democratize farmers by rapidly expanding the number of landed farmers. In that period, in 1946, Japan enacted the Law Concerning Special Measures to Create Landed Farmers, and thus thoroughly implemented agricultural land reform.
Under those laws, the Government expropriated a significant portion of the tenant-operated farms, which were owned by large landowners, and sold the land back to the tenant farmers. Cash payment for farm rents was also instituted. The Government enhanced the rights of tenant farmers by creating a permission system for the cancellation of rental contracts and by recognizing the right to request a reduction in farm rents. The system of municipal and prefectural agricultural committees, which played a central role in agricultural land reform as the primary administrative organization, was also revised. As a result, the selection of committee members by the bureaucracy was altered, and an election system was introduced. The structure of the committees was also reformed so that the opinions of tenant farmers could be reflected. Democratic agricultural reform was instituted in this way.
As a result of all these measures, the monopoly of large tracts of land by a small number of land owners came to an end. For example, agricultural land of about 1.93 million hectares was liberated by 1950, and the percentage of tenant farm land, which stood at 46% before agricultural land reform, decreased to below 10%.
In 1952, Japan enacted the Agricultural Land Law, which aims at sustaining the results of agricultural land reform. Under this Law, Japan has made efforts to stabilize the status of farmers and increase agricultural productivity, through restrictions on the right to convert agricultural land and to own tenant farms, as well as through a system to stabilize the status of renters of agricultural land.
(5) Ensuring the safety of food
In order to ensure the safety of food, the following measures have been adopted in accordance with the Food Hygiene Law.
(a) Establishment of standards for foodstuffs, additives, equipment, and packaging;
(b) Inspection and guidance by food hygiene inspectors;
(c) Reinforcement of the self-management system by the food hygiene supervisor; and,
(d) Enforcement of the license system for 34 food-related types of businesses (restaurants, etc.).
(6) Consideration of national nutrition
(a)Compared to the traditional eating pattern based on rice, fish, and vegetables, dietary habits in Japan at the present time are diversified and, on the whole, balanced with the addition of various foods such as meat, milk, other dairy products, and fruit. The fat content, however, may exceed the recommended PFC caloric rate in the future, and unbalanced nutrition has been noted in some individuals and age groups. As a result, the Government established the Japanese-style Dietary New Guidelines in 1990 to promote a balanced diet and has been making efforts to disseminate it.
(b)In order to improve the nutrition of nationals, the Government conducts an annual national survey to recognize the dietary intake of nationals, based on the Nutrition Improvement Law, and revises the recommended dietary intake every five years. Moreover, qualified dietitians are posted at public health centers to provide guidance for both individuals and mass-catering facilities. Nutrition guidance is also included in the health education and health consultation programs which are carried out by local governments for persons over 40 years of age under the Law Concerning Health and Medical Services for the Aged.
(c)To disseminate information on the principles of nutrition, the "Dietary Life Guidelines for a Healthy Life" were compiled as important notices on dietary life in the form that is easily understood to the nation.
Furthermore, in order to cope with increased dining-out and the use of processed foods, the Government promotes voluntary nutritional labeling by restaurants and food processors.
(7)Measures to ensure globally fair food distribution
In some parts of the developing world, especially in low income countries, there are countries experiencing a considerable amount of malnutrition among their population.
In response to this situation, Japan has actively promoted international cooperation to ensure a secure and stable food supply in developing countries, especially in the agricultural sector. Japan has contributed to the improvement and stabilization of the lives of farmers, who comprise over half the population, and to the reduction of food shortages, in developing countries.
Particularly in the fields of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, Japan has founded the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) as a national organization to conduct research related to agriculture, forestry and fisheries in developing countries and to collaborate in international research through the dispatch and invitation of researchers.

3. Right to Adequate Housing

(1)Statistical data on housing

Table 15. Changes in the Number of Houses, Rate of House Ownership, and Vacancy Rate
  1968 1973 1978 1983 1988 1993
Total number of houses
(1 ,000)
25,591 31,059 35,451 38,607 42,007 45,879
Total number of households (households) 25,320 29,651 32,835 35,197 37,812 41,159
Number of houses per household 1.01 1.05 1.08 1.10 1.11 1.11
Rate of house ownership 60.3% 59.2% 60.4% 62.4% 61.3% 59.8%
Number of houses with residents (1,000) 24,198 28,731 32,189 34,705 37,413 40,773
Vacant houses (1,000) 1,034 1,720 2,679 3,302 3,940 4,476
Vacancy rate 4.0% 5.5% 7.6% 8.6% 9.4% 9.8%
Note 1:Based on the Housing Statistics Survey by the Statistics Bureau of the Management and Coordination Agency.
Note 2:Okinawa prefecture is not included in the figures of 1968.

Table 16. Changes in the Total Floor Area Per Housing based on the Type of Housing
(UNIT:square meter)
  Overall Owed Rented
Private Company
1968 73.86 97.42 37.78 34.13 53.56
1973 77.14 103.09 39.49 36.01 53.86
1978 80.28 106.16 41.52 43.32 37.02 55.33
1983 85.92 111.67 44.90 44.67 39.19 57.28
1988 89.29 116.78 47.00 44.84 41.77 56.07
1993 91.92 122.08 49.44 46.66 41.99 56.35
Note:Based on the Housing Statistics Survey by the Bureau of the Management Coordination Agency.

Table 17. Sanitation Facilities and the Deterioration of Housing
  Number of houses (1988) Number of houses (1993)
Total number of housing 37,413,000 (100.0%) 40,773,000 (100.0%)
Housing without bath 2,837,000 (7.6%) 1936,000 (4.7%)
Housing which is dangerous or impossible to repair 133,000 (0.4%) 153,000 (0.4%)
Note 1:Based on the Housing Statistics Survey by the Statistics Bureau of the Management and Coordination Agency.
Note 2:The figures for 1993 are preliminary figures.

Table 18. Type of Occupation based on the Period of Housing Construction
Period of construction Total number Owned Rented
Public land Public corporation Private Company residence
-1944 2,144,300 1,798,300 2,600 --- 325,100 18,200
1945-1950 824,500 629,600 9,300 --- 173,400 12,100
1951-1960 2,373,100 1,542,900 144,100 73,700 515,000 97,400
1961-1970 6,489,000 3,705,600 533,800 318,900 1,491,000 439,700
1971-1975 6,236,600 3,815,400 442,200 203,700 1,432,400 342,900
1976-1980 6,293,900 4,276,300 346,500 116,600 1,300,100 254,400
1981-1985 5,392,100 3,433,800 251,200 60,500 1,412,700 233,800
1986-1988 3,853,900 1,956,600 134,000 27,300 1,539,800 196,200
1989 1,734,000 840,600 38,800 8,300 757,100 89,200
1990 1,395,300 675,300 37,100 8,300 575,100 99,700
1991 1,217,100 607,000 35,200 13,500 449,500 112,000
1992 1,078,400 569,900 31,200 7,000 371,700 98,600
1993(Jan-Sep) 785,000 428,700 26,800 6,700 275,500 47,300
Period unknown 956,300 96,500 300 500 143,900 9,100
Total number of houses 40,773,300 24,376,200 2,033,000 845,000 10,762,400 2,050,500
Note:Based on the Housing Statistics Survey by the Statistics Bureau of the Management and Coordination Agency.

There is no statistical data on homeless people, illegal residents, and evictions.In addition, there is no payment capacity limit on housing costs determined by the Government.
(2)Law concerning housing and living
(a)Law stipulating the rights concerning living
The Civil Code stipulates the details of ownership and leases. The "Land-Lease and House-Lease Law" provides specific provisions concerning leasing of buildings (The Land-Lease and House-Lease Law unifies former Lease Land Law, Lease House Law, and Law Concerning Building Protection, and was put into force on August 1,1992.).
(b)Law concerning housing
As for the improvement of the people's standard of living, under the comprehensive housing construction program, which is established every five years based on the Housing Construction Planning Act, the Government implements various measures to promote housing construction and to improve the housing stock according to the following laws:
(i)The "Public-Operated Housing Act," which aims to provide low rental housing for low income earners in need of housing by national and local governments together;
(ii)The "Housing and Urban Development Corporation Act," which stipulates the establishment of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation. It conducts urban redevelopment and provides apartments and large-scale residential land in metropolitan areas and other areas that require improved housing conditions;
(iii)The "Local Housing Supply Corporations Act," which stipulates the establishment of Local Housing Supply Corporations. It provides workers with houses or residential land with a favorable living environment, by making use of the purchaser's savings as well as other loans;
(iv)The "Housing Loan Corporation Act," which stipulates the establishment of the Housing Loan Corporation. It finances long-term and low interest loans for housing construction and purchase when the other usual financial institutions are unable to accommodate such requests;
(v)The "Residential Areas Improvement Act," which stipulates renewal projects to improve the living environment in areas where substandard housing is concentrated; and,
(vi)The "Act for Facilitating Supply of Specific Good Quality Rental Housing," which aims to improve the supply of rental housing for middle income earners by aiding landholders in constructing good quality rental housing.
(c)Law concerning land usage
Under the Act for Planning the Utilization of National Land, the Utilization of National Land Plan is determined by the national government, while the Land Usage Basic Plan including the designation of urban, agricultural, and preservation areas, is determined by prefectural governors.
(d)Law concerning the rights of tenants
The Land-Lease and House-Lease Law provides the minimum period for land lease contracts, limits cases when a lessor of land or house can refuse to renew a lease contract,and limits cases when a lessor of house can request evacuation. In addition, special agreements which violate the provisions of this law and are not beneficial to tenants are regarded void. As such, this law is designed to protect tenants.
The Housing Loan Corporation Act stipulates that rents must be less than the amount calculated under this Act for rental housing constructed with loans from the Housing Loan Corporation (unilateral peremptory rule).
(e)Law restricting speculation on land
The Land Basic Law stipulates that land should not be used for speculative transactions. The Act for Planning the Utilization of National Land stipulates the measures concerning the regulation of land transactions, which prevent damage to the nation from speculative transactions and land price increases.
(f)Law concerning standards and regulations of building
The Building Standards Law stipulates the minimum standards for site, structure,utilities and use of the building, for the purpose of protecting the lives, health and property of nationals.
(g)Law concerning living environment and hygiene in housing and residential areas
The Housing Construction Program Law stipulates the establishment of the comprehensive housing construction program to promote the construction of housing with good quality housing and good living environment every five years. In addition, the Law Concerning the Securing of Sanitary Building stipulates that building environment sanitation management technicians shall maintain and manage buildings based on certain standards to ensure a hygienic environment, for the maintenance and management of buildings such as stores and apartment buildings used by large numbers of people.
(3)Other measures adopted to realize the right to living
(a)Subsidies for organizations established by community residents
As part of the Comprehensive Community Environmental Improvement Projects,which aims to support the voluntary development and improvement of the living environment by community residents, the Government provides subsidies for projects such as the widening of narrow streets, which are conducted by Living Environment Development Associations established by community residents.
(b)Measures adopted to promote housing construction
Along with measures under the various laws mentioned in (2)(b), comprehensive housing measures have been implemented based on the Housing Construction Five Year Program (the seventh plan currently). These measures include the appropriate supply of public rental housing, provision of loans to acquire housing, and the supply of high-quality private housing through interest subsidies.
(c)Measures for residents facing housing problems
Local governments provide improved housing with residents facing housing difficulties by implementing projects such as the Residential Area Renewal Project and the Community Living Environment Development Project. The former aims to improve areas where substandard housing is concentrated, while the latter aims to improve housing conditions and the environment in areas that have deteriorated because of the concentration of substandard housing and small residential lots.
(d)Measures adopted to utilize idle land
Under the Act for Planning the Utilization of National Land, effective and appropriate use of idle land has been promoted through advice, recommendations, and discussions on purchasing land.
(e)National budget for housing
The budget for housing in fiscal year 1996 was 1,161,288 million yen, which was approximately 1.5% of the general account.

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