1. Home
  2. Policies
  3. METI Quick Reads
  4. "Business and Human Rights:" Towards Responsible Corporate Conduct

"Business and Human Rights:" Towards Responsible Corporate Conduct


The issue of "business and human rights" was included in the G7 Summit Statement adopted on June 13. Regulating the trade and use of goods and services that carry a risk of forced labor, child labor, and other human rights violations (based on the ILO's core labor standards) in supply chains is leading to increased international efforts to eradicate human rights abuses. More and more global companies are formulating procurement guidelines that take into account the environment and human rights, and require compliance not only within the company, but also from their business partners. Japanese companies are also required to take steps to prevent forced labor and other human rights violations. “Business and human rights” is an important element that is represented by the "S" ("social") of so-called "ESG investment," and the issue is becoming increasingly important in terms of institutional investors fund raising.

Excerpt from the G7 Summit Statement:


Framework Formed by International Organizations

The "Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights", which were endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, stipulates that states have an obligation to respect, protect, and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms, and that business enterprises have a responsibility to respect human rights in the activities that relate to their business (including those of their business partners). The guidelines also stipulate that "human rights due diligence" ("Human Rights DD": taking steps to understand, prevent, and mitigate the risks of human rights violations associated with business activities) be implemented as a concrete approach to respecting human rights.
The OECD has formulated "OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises." These provide voluntary principles and standards for responsible business conduct. , The OECD also provides practical support to enterprises on implementation through the "OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct." Some sectors, such as clothing and footwear, minerals, etc., publicly disclose detailed guidance documents based on the risks specific to that industry. In addition, the International Labour Organization has formulated ”Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy” that calls on multinational enterprises to respect the rights of workers and to contribute to the fulfillment of basic principles and rights in labor.

Moves in Japan

In October 2020, the Japanese government formulated a National Action Plan (NAP) on "business and human rights" in order to implement the United Nations’ guiding principles. Based on this, Japanese companies are being encouraged to address human rights due diligence. Other actions planned include providing information to small and medium-sized enterprises.
Japanese companies are also taking their own steps to address this issue. Examples include formulating human rights policies, and making sure human rights are also taken into account by policies governing procurement from suppliers, and not just addressed within the company.
See the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry website for more information, including initiatives by governments around the world.

Trade Policy Planning Office, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

Last updated:2021-07-06