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Type of document: News
Topic: Actions/initiatives/projects
Law enforcement
Policy and Planning
Trafficking patterns
Geographic descriptors: Japan
Language: English
Publisher: japantoday.com
Date of publication: 25 November 2004
Long Abstract: In June, the State Department released the "2004 Trafficking in Persons Report," which placed Japan on the Tier 2 Watch List. Japan is the only industrialized, developed country to be placed on this watch list, with Tier 3 as the worst ranking. "Japan is a country of destination for men, women, and children trafficked for sexual exploitation," the report said, adding that victims come mainly from China, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines, Colombia and Eastern Europe. Since the release of the report, the Japanese government has moved quickly to establish the prime minister's interagency task force on human trafficking, draft antitrafficking legislation, and meet with nongovernmental organizations and foreign ambassadors, actions that Miller said, "are all good steps that could lead to very positive results." But Miller remains cautious in his assessment of what Japan has done so far. "On the ground, at this point, we cannot say that more victims are being sheltered, we cannot say, at this point, that more traffickers are being sent to jail or anything like that, so the next several months will be very crucial," Miller said. A midterm assessment will be released on Jan 3. But this will have no effect on Japan's Tier 2 rank, which will remain until the release of the next report next June. Every year, roughly 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders, 80% of victims are female, and 50 percent are children. One reason for Miller's cautious stance is that he is waiting to see whether the draft antitrafficking legislation, to be sent for Diet approval next year, will include increased victim protection funding. "If Japan is really going to tackle this issue the way it should, the law, to be progressive and advanced, should deal not only with the prosecutions and the penalties but also with the victim protection, and there should be some specific funding for trafficking victim protection," Miller said. Calling entertainment visas a "sick joke," Miller remained hopeful that the Japanese government would decrease the number of entertainment visas issued, which are often blatantly exploited by crime syndicates to traffic women. A draft action plan currently under review by the Japanese government will aim to strengthen requirements for foreign entertainers wishing to obtain visas and decrease the number of visas issued to Filipinos to about 8,000. Currently, all foreign entertainers including singers, musicians, and dancers who are officially certified in their home countries automatically receive entertainer visas. According to Japanese Justice Ministry figures, about 130,000 foreign nationals enter Japan annually by entertainment visas, with 80,000 from the Philippines. Miller also highlighted the need for an ongoing, permanent relationship between NGOs and the Japanese government. "There have been some meetings but I don't sense, when I met with NGOs, I still don't sense any kind of ongoing relationship," said Miller. "I hope that cooperation with the NGOs that has been initiated, blossoms and continues." In addition, the lack of shelters for foreign victims, which was criticized in the 2004 report, still persists. "It's still a true statement that there are only two trafficking victim shelters in Japan, however, the government officials are looking at this," Miller said. While some point to the availability of Japan's network of "women consultative centers," or domestic abuse shelters, these shelters lack many crucial components to aid foreign trafficking victims. "The difficulty is, that when you're dealing with trafficking victims that are primarily foreign, you need foreign language skills, you need a certain set of skills that are not necessarily present in the domestic violence centers," Miller said. To address the fundamental issue behind sex trafficking, the most common form of trafficking in Japan, all societies around the world must address gender inequality, Miller said. "Sex trafficking comes about not just because of organized crime or poverty, but it comes about because there is a market, a demand for prostitution," said Miller. "If you're going to address the market when it comes to sex trafficking, any society has to look at the attitudes toward gender on the part of males, and it's not just Japan."
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