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UNDP launches project to advise Japanese firms overseas to prevent human rights abuses

The United Nations headquarters in New York is seen in this Sept. 14, 2021 file photo. (Mainichi/ Toshiyuki Sumi)

NEW YORK (Mainichi) -- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced April 4 the launch of a project to assess the potential adverse impact that Japanese firms and their business partners have on the state of human rights in countries where they have expanded their businesses, and provide guidance to prevent human rights violations.

    The Japanese government has provided around $6.3 million to the UNDP for the new project. It will be implemented in five regions and 17 countries that Japanese companies have a great interest in, including Nepal, Pakistan, Kenya, Ukraine and Mexico. Through the initiative, investigations will be carried out over forced labor, low wages, child labor, environmental impact, and other human rights violations that companies must look out for. The firms will also be given guidance and training opportunities.

    Furthermore, in 13 of the 17 countries, assistance will also be provided to the national governments when they formulate plans to carry out policies regarding businesses and human rights.

    There has been a growing global trend to have companies get a handle on the situation of human rights violations across the entire supply chain, which encompasses not only the company itself, but also its business partners. In Europe, there are countries that have made it mandatory for firms to undertake due diligence over human rights and implement a system to prevent and act against human rights abuses. In such countries, companies that fail to perform the measures may be denied entry into the market or face reputational damage over human rights violations.

    Interest toward corporate social responsibility is also on the rise in Japan, following the international trend to shun cotton from China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region over accusations of human rights issues.

    (Japanese original by Toshiyuki Sumi, New York Bureau)

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