The Japanese government recently announced that it will draft guidelines on human rights due diligence (HRDD) to track and prevent human rights violations in company supply chains. This policy note (completed in May 2022) and submission (submitted in September 2022), written by the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) and the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), provide recommendations for the proposed guidelines based on evidence from Japanese companies’ performance on key human rights indicators.
Japan’s efforts to develop HRDD guidelines puts the country on track to become the first in Asia who will have HRDD legislation. The announcement is a welcome step towards a level playing field for all companies in Japan. Research from WBA and BHRRC shows that while some companies are demonstrating leadership on HRDD, most are lagging far behind. In particular, there are significant gaps in HRDD processes in general and stakeholder engagement.
Legislation can help create a floor for human rights implementation for Japanese companies. We see this as a great opportunity for Japan to demonstrate its leadership in identifying policy solutions to strengthen company performance on human rights. By proposing effective stakeholder engagement mechanisms the HRDD guidelines can strengthen the transparency of human rights implementation and enable the inclusion of all stakeholders in due diligence processes. Learning from company experiences of implementing HRDD in varying sectors can help provide pathways for scaling up effective mechanisms.