Fostering Labour and Social Security Attorneys in Business and Human Rights

News | 07 February 2023
A workshop on business and human rights was held on February 2 and 3, 2023 in Tokyo for labour and social security attorneys (sharoushi). Twenty-one participants from all over Japan learned through role-play and other activities about “human rights due diligence” which involves determining whether there are any risks of human rights violations in corporate activities and supply chains. Sharoushi is a nationally certified qualification to provide advice on labour management and labour and social insurances, as well as offering services such as procedures for laws and regulations.

The Japan Federation of Labor and Social Security Attorney’s Associations, Chuo-ward, Tokyo, planned and organized the workshop for the purpose of fostering sharoushi to be capable of understanding “business and human rights” and to be able to give advice in terms of human rights due diligence for corporations to prevent human rights violations in their activities and to promote socially responsible conduct. The ILO provided support by cooperating in the creation of a program that utilized the knowledge of Better Work, one of the activities to support the improvement of the working environment and productivity in the apparel industry.
In addition to taking an online course in advance on the ILO MNE Declaration and Core Labour Standards, the participants conducted interviews with companies to determine whether their business dealings were appropriate and whether any discrimination or harassment occurred. They used a checklist that is included in the Guideline for Responsible Business Conduct for the Textile and Clothing Industry of Japan that was prepared by the Japan Textile Federation.

During the workshop session the participants practiced through role-play how to effectively explain how to see issues from both management’s perspective and the perspective of the employees. They honed their advisory and questioning skills on how to facilitate their client companies’ efforts for improvement. Having reflected on how they proceeded with the interviews and the companies' reactions, they discussed the importance of not only judging the current situation as right or wrong, but also linking it to improvements, and what role sharoushi can play to assist clients.

Comments from participants included: "It is important to carefully explain the benefits of performing human rights due diligence and possible risks of not doing so," and "There is a sense of uneasiness in the field, such as 'What kind of extra work do we have to do?’ Giving them the whole picture will reassure them.”

Yuki Kobayashi, Program Coordinator of the ILO Office for Japan, who facilitated the workshop said, "Human rights due diligence is a continuous process. Please listen to the corporations and provide them with a guiding hand."

Shinichi Takasaki, Director of the ILO Office for Japan who gave a speech at the end of the session, encouraged the participants to "work on the matter with a mindset of 'extending the positives of companies and moving forward.’”

Taku Kawamura, Vice President of Japan Federation of Labour and Social Security Attorney’s Associations, expressed his strong hope that as many sharoushi as possible will assume the mission to support Japanese companies and get involved in human rights due diligence.
A lively exchange of opinions in role-play took place.
Each group of participants reflected on the outcome of the workshop.