Special Advisor to Japan’s Prime Minister joins workshop on business and human rights in Dhaka, Bangladesh

News | 03 March 2023
Special Advisor to Japan’s Prime Minister joins workshop on business and human rights in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Dhaka (ILO NEWS) - Japanese human rights specialist called on participants to act for human rights at a workshop held by the ILO and JETRO in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
On 19 February 2023, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Office for Japan and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) held a workshop on business and human rights for Japanese firms in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Gen Nakatani, Special Advisor to Japan’s PM for international human rights issues, attended the workshop, explaining the need for a scheme that would spur Japanese companies to join the global trend and take the initiative in promoting human rights.
The workshop was conducted as part of Building Responsible Value Chains in Asia, a project the ILO is implementing in four Asian countries, namely, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Japan, funded by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. In the opening remarks, Yuji Ando, Country Representative of JETRO Bangladesh, expressed his determination to serve as a driving force to boost companies’ human rights efforts. Attending as a guest of honour, H.E. Kiminori Iwama, Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh, stated, “We will be engaged in social dialogue to achieve enhancement of corporate working conditions.”
Then Special Advisor Nakatani delivered a keynote address in which he mourned the victims of the 2013 collapse of garment factories near Dhaka, saying, “The tragic accident raised the issue of the human rights responsibility for multinational companies across the world.” He referred to the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights and the Guidelines on Respecting Human Rights in Responsible Supply Chains, formulated by the Japanese government in 2019 and 2022, respectively. In his speech, Mr Nakatani stressed the need for corporate leaders to observe the guidelines and act for human rights, not out of duty and obligation, but with a firm understanding of their importance. “Follow the guidelines, and you will enhance the quality of supply chains, which will resolve diverse issues in your workplace,” he added.

The Special Advisor also mentioned the government procurement rules that the Japanese government is currently exploring to accelerate corporate efforts to respect human rights, stating its goal is to ensure the government’s commitment to promoting human rights and thereby create a scheme that allows partner companies to conduct bidding and other business activities with confidence.
Shinichi Takasaki, Director of the ILO Office for Japan, said that companies would be left behind unless they addressed social issues as well as seeking profits, explaining why they should value business and human rights more than ever. Yuki Kobayashi, Programme Coordinator of the ILO Office for Japan, requested that the participants keep close contact with their headquarters in Japan and keep them informed about their workplaces so that they could work together to advance human rights initiatives.

Approximately 30 participants, including representatives from Japanese companies, listened carefully and intently to the speeches, taking notes. Some comments read, “We should promote human rights on our initiatives, rather than feeling obliged to do so”, and “It is important to change the mindsets of local office managers, not just those of top management at the headquarters.”

Gen Nakatani, Special Advisor to Japan’s Prime Minister, delivers a speech in the workshop. About 30 participants, including employees from Japanese firms, listen attentively in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on 19 February 2023, at 3 p.m..