The Recent Actions Japan has taken to combat TIP
(Trafficking in Persons)

March 2008

Trafficking in persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights and dignity, and it requires a prompt and appropriate response from a humanitarian perspective, as trafficking in persons causes serious emotional and physical pain for the victims, especially women and children, and whose recovery from such damage is very difficult.

With such recognition, Japan established the Inter-Ministerial Liaison Committee (Task Force) at the Prime Minister's Office in April 2004, and the Member Ministries/Agencies of the Task Force (Cabinet Secretariat, Cabinet Office, National Police Agency, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare) have taken the following actions to combat human trafficking.

1. Adoption of the Comprehensive National Action Plan of measures to combat trafficking in person

  • The Task Force adopted the National Action Plan on December 7, 2004, which focuses on preventive measures, law enforcement and support for victims of human trafficking. It was approved by the Cabinet Meeting on Anti-Crime Measures on December 14, 2004.
  • Since the adoption of the National Action Plan on December 14, 2004, the Task Force has continuously met and reviewed its implementation and its effectiveness in consultation with NGOs.
  • The member of the Task Force was enlarged to include the Gender Equality Bureau of the Cabinet Office and the Human Rights Bureau of the Ministry of Justice for the purpose of promoting the action plan in a more comprehensive manner.

2. Conclusion of the Protocol

The Diet approved the conclusion of the Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on June 8, 2005. After the conclusion of the Convention, the Government will conclude the Protocol as soon as possible.

* The U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime stipulates that in order to become a Party to a protocol, a State or a regional economic integration organization must also be a Party to this Convention.

3. Amendment of Laws/Regulations

Trafficking in Persons shall be prohibited and punished by the "Penal Code", "the Code of Criminal Procedure", the "Law for Punishment of Organized Crimes, Control of Crime Proceeds and Other Matters", the "Employment Security Law", the "Prostitution Prevention Law", the "Law on Control and Improvement of Amusement Businesses", the "Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act", the "Law for Punishing Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and for Protecting Children", the "Child Welfare Law" and other statutes.

(1) The Penal Code

The penal code was amended to directly criminalize the conduct of buying and selling of persons, and the conduct of transporting, transferring and harbouring of victims of kidnapping, abduction, buying or selling. In addition, a statutory penalty of the conduct of kidnapping by force or enticement, abduction, buying or selling of persons is raised.

(2) The Law for Punishment of Organized Crimes, Control of Crime Proceeds and Other Matters

This law was amended to designate trafficking in persons as an offence to be covered as predicate offences for money laundering.

(3) The Law on Control and Improvement of Amusement Businesses

This law was amended to inhibit illicit work by requiring the owners of amusement/sex-related businesses to verify immigration status of foreign employees when they recruit.

(4) The Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act

This act was amended to stipulate that a special permission for residence can be given to a victim of trafficking in persons for the purpose of protection, as well as to criminalize the conduct of procuring, providing or possessing a fraudulent foreign passport for the purpose of facilitating illegal entry to Japan, which contribute to punish traffickers.

(5) The Passport Law

The passport low was amended to prevent the production of a forged passport and the illegal use of a passport by incorporating an IC chip onto a passport, as well as to criminalize the conduct of procuring, providing or possessing a fraudulent Japanese passport.

(6) The Ministerial Ordinance to Provide for Criteria pursuant to Article 7, Paragraph 1(2) of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act

This ordinance was amended to prevent the residence status of entertainer from being abused for trafficking in persons.

4. Prevention

(1) Residence Status of "Entertainer"

  • For the purpose of preventing the resident status of entertainer from being abused by trafficking in persons etc., the criteria of landing permit for the residence status of "Entertainer" was reviewed and has enforced since March 15, 2005.
  • A further amendment of the criteria for the Residence Status of Entertainer was issued on March 13, 2006, and was taken effect on June 1, 2006. This amended criteria includes tightening up of a disqualification standard for the operators/ manager/ other regular employees of the inviting organizations etc. and their stricter obligation of the payment of the salary (at least 200,000 JPY) on the contracts with entertainers and other things.

(2) Implementation of appropriate visa check

  • In addition to the revision of the ordinance explained above, Japanese Embassies and Consulates-General overseas have introduced a strengthened regime of examination of 'entertainer' visa applications.
  • Examinations of 'temporary visitor' visa applications have been strengthened to deal with such cases as fake tourists claiming to visit their friends or fiancés in Japan.
  • Most of Japanese Embassies and Consulates-General have introduced a system to produce machine-readable visa (MRV) stickers with bearer's photograph which possesses highly advanced anti-forgery techniques.

(3) In FY2005, the Japanese Immigration Bureau sent an ALO (Airline Liaison Officer) to Bangkok, Thailand to worked at the Bangkok International Airport as a member of ICE team (Immigration Control Expert / Immigration Compliance Enforcement team), and to give training to Thai immigration officers. During her duty in Bangkok, the officer made a great contribution to the prevention of immigration fraud and travel document forgery. Considering the fact that most of the trafficking victims found in Japan from Thailand enter Japan illegally by impostor or using fraudulent documents, her dispatch was quite effective to prevent Trafficking in Persons. The Japanese Government has decided to continue this scheme and send another ALO to Bangkok in FY2006.

(4) Strict border control has been implemented for effective monitoring of possible victims of trafficking in persons by means of Pre-Clearance System at some airports in Taiwan and Korea, and Secondary Inspection System at main airports from 2005.

(5) The stricter crackdown has been implemented by the National Police Agency, and the Law on Control and Improvement of Amusement Businesses was amended and came into effect from May 1, 2006, which has a great impact on amusement/sex related industries.

(6) The National Women's Education Center of Japan (NWEC) is conducting a 2 year project on the "Research on Trafficking in Persons and its Prevention, Education and Awareness Raising (research on "demand", FY2005-2006). Field research in Asia and attitude survey on "demand" will be conducted to elucidate the situations surrounding trafficking in persons and to examine the kind of education, training and awareness raising effort necessary to prevent trafficking of women and girls. US$150,000 was financed by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

(7) The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has issued warnings to travel agencies against facilitating the sexual exploitation of children. The Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), the Overseas Tour Operators Association of Japan (OTOA), and 81 major travel agents have signed the Code of conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism. This code of conduct was promoted by UNICEF and other international organizations to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.

5. Crackdown and Prosecution

(1) The police continues crackdown on human trafficking cases.

Numbers of Identified Trafficking Cases and Victims

(Source: National Police Agency)

Year 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Total
Number of cases 64 44 51 79 81 72 40 431
Number of arrested persons 40 28 41 58 83 78 41 369
Number of victims 65 55 83 77 117 58 43 498
Philippines 12 2   13 40 30 22 119
Thailand 39 40 21 48 21 3 4 176
Indonesia 4   3   44 14 11 76
Romania         4     4
Taiwan 7 3 12 5 4 10   41
Korea       3 1 1 5 10
Australia         1     1
Estonia         1     1
Colombia 3 6 43 5 1     58
Russia       2       2
Laos       1       1
China   4 2         6
Cambodia     2         2
Japan             1 1
  • The Japanese Government (the National Police Agency) has directly cooperated with relevant countries including Indonesia, Thailand, The Philippines, Taiwan, and Colombia in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking case.
  • The Japanese Government (the National Police Agency) has also cooperated through the ICPO route with other governments, for example, in exchange of information on many cases (Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia) and in handover operation of Japanese nationals who stay abroad and to whom an arrest warrant under trafficking in person was issued from the Japanese police (2 cases in Thailand, 1 case in the Philippines).
  • Extradition
    Extradition from Japan is conducted in accordance with the Law of Extradition. Extradition is granted when the requirements under the law are satisfied. Dual criminality, which is one of the requirements, would be satisfied as to trafficking in persons, because Japan has enacted domestic laws to punish trafficking in persons. English text of the Law of Extradition is available at the website of the Japanese Ministry of Justice. other site
  • The officials/police officers of the National Police Agency/ Prefectural Police have visited Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines annually since 2004 to cooperate in investigation/ prosecution of traffickers with relevant agencies. These three countries account for 90 % of the trafficking victims in Japan.
  • The National Police Agency has been in close contact/cooperation with foreign embassies in Japan through contact point network, which was established through the "Contact Point Meeting" started in December 2004. The 3rd Contact Point Meeting was held in December 19th 2006 in Tokyo.

(2) As of December 2007, the number of prosecution for buying or selling persons after the penal code was amended in June 2005 is 34. 24 offenders were convicted for the buying and selling persons (violating the Article 226-2 of the Penal Code) including 16 persons convicted of imprisonment without supension of execution of sentence. The severest punishment sentenced is 5 years and 6 months imprisonment, the mildest one is 2 years and 6 months.
The Ministry of Justice and the prosecutor's office gave official notices to prosecutors and secretaries and have trained them so that they may become proficient in the countermeasures against human trafficking.

(3) Promotion of information exchange on travel documents, e.g.

  • The Japanese government shares the information on invalid Japanese passports, most of which are stolen or lost, internationally by providing the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO) through the National Police Agency.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has developed a Visa Wide Area Network (Visa-WAN), in which the Ministry, its overseas establishments and other related ministries and agencies concerned are connected in order to exchange information concerning visa checks and issuance instantly through the Network.

6. Protection

From a humanitarian perspective, it is very important to properly protect victims. Therefore, the Government of Japan has established the procedure for protecting victims and diffuse the related information to victims as well as the general public. The Women's Consulting Office is a public shelter where victims can receive food, clothing and medical/psychological treatment etc. and there are 47 offices throughout Japan. The Government of Japan continues to make strenuous efforts to realize the effective protection for victims.

(1) The number of victims protected at Women's Consulting Office.

FY2001 1 (1 Thai )
FY2002 2 (2 Thais)
FY2003 6 (3 Thais and 3 Filipinos)
FY2004 24 (15 Thais, 4 Taiwanese,3 Indonesians,1Colombian, 1 Korean)
FY2005 117 (64 Filipinos, 40 Indonesians, 6 Taiwanese, 4 Thais etc.)
FY2006 36 (12 Filipinos, 17 Indonesians, 4 Thais, 2 Taiwanese, 1Korean)
  • The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare started subsidizing private shelters which give protection to victims or facilities for protective care for women in April 2005. The Ministry has subsidized 54 victims out of 147 in FY 2005~2006. (The Government has budgeted around US$ 100,000 to private shelters/facilities to protect victims, which started from April 1st in 2005.)
  • Besides the financial support for travel (domestic transfer, e.g. from local to Tokyo) and interpretation costs, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare started budgeting medical costs for victims in the Fiscal Year 2006,
  • The Japanese government provided examinations by physicians at the Women's Consulting Offices as well as assistance such as provision of information on neighboring hospitals where free or low-cost medical examinations are available, and on various other available schemes.
  • The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare issued a "Guide to victim protection" and distributed among all Women's Consulting Offices."

(2) The Immigration Bureau granted special permissions for residence to 74 victims.

  2005 2006 Total
Philippines 22 10 32
Thailand 17 2 19
Indonesia 4 14 18
Colombia 4   4
Korea   1 1
Total 47 27 74

(3) Repatriation assistance to victims through the IOM started in April 2005.

The Government funded approximately US$ 222,000 in 2005, US$322,000 in 2006 and US$ 300,000 in 2007 to the IOM for this assistance. As of 21 March 2008, the IOM has assisted 129 victims who returned to their countries and gained support for social re-integration in their countries as follows.

Philippines 57
Indonesia 48
Thailand 14
Taiwan 6
Colombia 1
Korea 3

(4) The instruction regarding how to protect victims by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the Ministry of Justice, and the National Police Agency, has continuously been circulated to their related offices throughout Japan in order to properly protect victims.

(5) The police introduced "Anonymous Reporting Line" in October, 2007 in order for citizens to provide information anonymously about the trafficking and other cases that tends to remain underground.

7. Raising Public Awareness

(1) Information on measures to combat TIP has been distributed by the media such as TV, radio, newspaper and journals.

(2) The National Police Agency produced Videos and DVDs concerning trafficking and distributed to the prefectural police stations and relevant organizations.

(3) The Japanese government widely distributed leaflets respond to 9 languages in order for potential victims to use to ask for help to the Immigration Offices and the police stations in Japan.

(4) Pamphlets that explain Japanese government's anti-trafficking measures have been distributed.

(5) The Cabinet Office distributed posters (25,500 copies in 2007) for the purpose of disseminating the information that the word "trafficking" (in Japanese language) means "trafficking in persons" and raising public awareness for eradication of the trafficking in persons.

(6) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs published "Japan's Visa Policy in Accordance with Measures to Combat Trafficking in Persons' on its website in order to raise awareness among both foreigners who intend to travel to Japan and Japanese nationals who invite them. Furthermore, the contents aimed at foreigners were translated in several languages of the major source countries and have published on the websites of Japanese Embassies and Consulates-General in those countries, as well as the printed contents are located at visa counters and local travel agencies and distributed to potential victims.

(7) The Japanese government distributed leaflets to the window of Japanese Embassies in the nations that send a large number of overstayers to Japan and makes efforts the educational activities on the prevention of illegal employment.

(8) The Cabinet Office conducts "Campaign for eliminating violence against women" and strives to raise public awareness by disseminating information bulletin, utilizing the Internet, holding symposia etc.

(9) The Ministry of Justice conducts "campaign for illegal foreign workers" and human rights promotion activities.

(10) The police implements "Strengthen the enlightenment of publicity for the investigation and prevention of foreign workers without proper visa" in June every year and "Strengthen the enlightenment of publicity for the investigation and prevention of sexual crime including trafficking" in November every year.

(11) In order to prevent illegal employment, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare implemented measures such as distributing leaflets for employers and holding seminars on foreign workers employment.

8. International Cooperation

(1) The Government Delegation visited the following countries and discussed how to prevent trafficking in persons and shared information with governments, international organizations, and NGOs.

September 2004 Philippines, Thailand
January 2005 Colombia, USA, Philippines
July 2005 Russia, Ukraine, Romania, France
May 2006 Thailand, Indonesia
January 2007 Laos, Cambodia
February 2008 Austria *

(* participation in Vienna Forum, consultation with the delegation of the U.S., Thailand, Indonesia, Romania and Vatican)

(2) The Japan-Thailand Joint Task Force on Counter Trafficking in Persons was established and the first meeting was held in Bangkok in May 2006. The Task Force aims at strengthening cooperation between Japan and Thailand on prevention, law enforcement, and protection. The second meeting took place in Tokyo in September 2007.

(3) The Government Delegation led by the Director-General of Consular Bureau, MOFA, visited Bangkok and Manila in March 2007 to hold the 'Bilateral Consultations on Consular Matters' with the governments of Thailand and Philippines. At each consultation, trafficking in persons was one of the main agenda items, and constructive discussions were made as to how to prevent trafficking in persons, crackdown illegal organizations, and raise awareness.

(4) The Government of Japan (GOJ) has cooperated with the Catholic Church in the Philippines and Colombia as well as the Holy See for prevention of trafficking in persons and protection for victims. The GOJ requested Catholic Church to carry out public awareness campaigns. Japan took initiative to promote cooperation between the Holy See and other international organizations such as the UNODC. The Holy See organized the first seminar on the issue of human trafficking in July 2005 based on the suggestion by the Government of Japan.

(5) In cooperation with international organizations such as the UNICEF, the IOM, the ILO, the WHO, the UNDP, the UNODC etc., the Government supports various preventive/protective programs for trafficking in persons.

  • Japan funded approximately US$ 13,000 to the UNODC in 2006 for the project of "Art Therapy for Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings" in Thailand.
  • Japan funded US $200,000 to the UNICEF in October 2006 for the project on Child Trafficking in Central Asia and approximately US $ 650,000 to the UNICEF in October 2005 for the project on child trafficking and exploitation in South East Asia.
  • Japan funded the following projects through the Trust Fund for Human Security which Japan established in the UN.
    • Assistance for "Community development through employment creation and improved migration management" Project by the ILO and the UNDP in 2007 (approximately US$ 1,100,000)
    • Assistance for "Economic and Social Empowerment of Returned Victims of Trafficking" Project by the ILO, which focuses on giving protection and self independent skills to trafficking victims in Thailand and the Philippines in 2006. (approximately US$ 2 million)
    • Assistance for "Prevention of Trafficking in children and women at a community level in Cambodia and Viet Nam" Project by the ILO in 2003 (approximately US$ 1,220,000)
    • Assistance for "Support for Victims/Witnesses of Trafficking in Human Beings in the Philippines" Project by the UNODC in 2003 (approximately US$ 251,000)
    • Assistance for "Girl's Education and Community Development for Awareness raising and Prevention of Girl Trafficking in Laos People's Democratic Republic" Project by the UNICEF in 2003 (approximately US$ 507,000)
    • Assistance for "Adolescent Girls, Trafficking and HIV/AIDS : Strengthening Responses in South Asia" Project by the UNDP in 2003 (US$ 1,030,000)
    • Assistance for "Trafficking: A Joint Initiative in the Millennium Against Trafficking in Girls and Women - District Level Intervention in Kaski District, Nepal" Project by the UNDP in 2002 (approximately US$ 481,000)
    • Assistance for "Support for Urban Youth at Risk "House of Youth" Project by the UN-HABITAT in 2002 (approximately US$ 361,000).
  • Japan initiated the "Children Support Plan for Tsunami Victims" focusing among others on both child protection including anti-human trafficking measures and child survival including measures against infectious diseases, by utilizing about $86 million in the occasion of the major earthquake off the coast of Sumatra and the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in December 2004.
  • Japan hosted the first inter-agency coordination meeting among international organizations on collaborative interventions to counter trafficking in persons in September 2006.

(6) Official Development Assistance (ODA) is used for prevention of trafficking in persons

For example, the Japanese Government funded a local NGO in Colombia so that the NGO could provide information by distributing leaflets as well as by setting up information desks in main international airports in Colombia.
Furthermore, the Japanese Government funded a local NGO in Thailand to construct a meeting hall so that the NGO can conduct seminars/give training course in terms of human trafficking.

(7) The participation/financial contribution to the Bali Process (Follow up process of the Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime)

Japan participated in the regional framework for countering trafficking in persons. In June 2005, Japan held the"Bali Process Workshop on Developing a Coordinated Inter-Agency National Action Plan to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons and Transnational Crime." Besides, Japan funded approximately US $10,000 to re-designing and maintenance of the Bali Process website.

(8) The government held the following various symposiums and seminars.

  • The International Symposium on trafficking in persons (February 2006)
    More than 300 participants and panelists from Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Colombia participated.
  • The 4th Contact Point Meeting for Trafficking in Persons (December 18, 2007)
  • The 4th Meeting on Organized Crime in the East Asian Region (November 2007)
  • The 6th Seminar Combating on the Commercial and Sexual Exploitation of Children in Southeast Asia (November 29, 2007)
  • The Symposium on Violence against Women (Nov. 24, 2006)
  • 20th Seminar on Immigration Control (Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, 2006)

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