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Japanese metalworkers seek involvement in due diligence plans

24 June, 2022IndustriALL affiliate, the Japan Council of Metalworkers' Unions (JCM), submitted a request to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) on human rights due diligence.

The Japanese government has been preparing guidelines on human rights due diligence to help companies identify and prevent human rights abuses in their global supply chains.

On 21 June, Akihiro Kaneko, president of JCM, submitted the union’s due diligence request to a member of the house of representatives, Kazuchika Iwata. Iwata is the parliamentary vice-minister of economy, trade and industry. 

JCM’s request contains the following:

  1. specify the involvement of labor unions in human rights due diligence;
  2. ensure that indirect business partners, such as second-tier subcontractors and beyond, are subject to checks and actions related to human rights due diligence; and
  3. if domestic laws do not meet international standards, then companies must comply with international standards that go beyond the level of domestic laws.

Kaneko, explained that

“JCM is actively implementing initiatives and measures, such as including human rights due diligence inits spring labour offensive policy. However, spreading this to small and medium-sized enterprises is dependent on the government’s ability to act. JCM is determined to promote discussions between labor and management going forward, including with small and medium-sized unions.”

The parliamentary vice-minister Iwata reposnded that;

“We will seriously assess the content of the JCM’s request. Human rights due diligence is a major trend in international economic activities, and Japan will also assimilate this and work to promote it. We want to ensure companies can voluntarily work on solving human rights issues and engage in sound economic activities. Concerning guidance, we are proceeding with discussions while maintaining an awareness of international standards, and as METI, we would like to move forward resolutely.”

Although the METI draft guidance has not yet been published, it will be open to public comment soon. JCM is currently discussing the points for labor unions with regard to handling human rights due diligence, which is to be finalized in August.