Day 3 | 22 September
Policy Developments in Japan and Their Impact on Asia
The business and human rights discourse in Asia has been evolving rapidly over the last 10 years, and more prominently in the last five as a consequence of three main factors: a) the setting of international standards and increasing levels of awareness around them; b) pressure from consumers and investors and c) policy and normative changes set by trading partners of Asian countries that have triggered the need for these countries to show access to supply chains which are respectful of people and the planet.
Human rights due diligence requirements set by Australia and UK for example, through the introduction of Modern Slavery Acts, have been levers of change when it comes to addressing and reducing forced labor. Similarly, the recent adoption of mandatory due diligence legislations in France, Germany and Norway, and the discourse around the upcoming pan-EU directive on mandatory Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence have encouraged companies and governments to raise their level of attention around human rights abuses in which they may be connected with.
In Asia, policy pieces in the form of National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights started to surface since 2018. To date three such plans were adopted, with four more in the works.
The Government of Japan signaled its strong interest in promoting responsible business practices by being the second country in Asia – after Thailand – to adopt a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. This commitment, expressed in 2020, was followed up by the decision to adopt, by summer 2022, the cross-industry guidelines for businesses to respect human rights in the supply chains.
The publishing of the guidelines is likely to become a landmark moment and a strong lever of further change within the business and human rights discourse in Asia for at least two reasons: 1) It will set expectations of responsible conduct not only for Japanese companies but also, indirectly, for those companies which are part of their supply chains in Asia; 2) It is likely to inspire other countries in the region to adopt similar guidelines.
This session has the overall objective of discussing the likely impacts that the policy evolvement of Japan, one of the largest investors in the region, will have on the rest of Asia.
The key objectives of this session are to:
Inform participants of adopted policies and upcoming policy developments in the field of Business and Human Rights in Japan.
Discuss the likely impact of the upcoming cross-industry guidelines by GoJ on supply chains in East and South Asia and reflect on how countries and companies in the region can prepare for that.
Exchange views on how countries in Asia can inspire each other in setting up responsible business policies, build synergies between them and align content
Panelists will reflect on the following questions:
What opportunities may arise from the responsible business policy evolvement taking place in Japan?
How can the responsible business policy discourse in Japan be tuned with those taking place in the rest of Asia? Would there be value in setting up a community of practice of Asian policy makers in the field of responsible business?
How should companies that are part of Japan’s supply chains prepare to meet the expectations that are likely to be set by new and upcoming requirements and expectations?
Mr. Gen Nakatani, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Japan for international human rights issues
Mr. Hiroki Matsui, Senior Coordinator of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Foreign Policy Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
Mr. Masao Seki, Chair of Task Force on Keidanren’s Charter of Corporate Behavior, Keidanren/ Senior Advisor, Sustainability Department, Sompo Japan Insurance Inc.
Ms. Dinna Prapto Raharja, Ph.D, Senior Policy Advisor, Foundation for International Human Rights Reporting Standards (FIHRRST)
Ms. Anita Ramasastry, Henry M. Jackson Professor of Law, University of Washington School of Law
Ms. Ruenvadee Suwanmongkol, Secretary-General, Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand
Moderated by Mr. Livio Sarandrea, Business and Human Rights Global Advisor, UNDP