Anti-trafficking plan targets fake nuptials in Japan
December 7, 2004
Japan wants to get off rights 'watch list' with stricter laws.
Tokyo intends to crack down on sham marriages as part of its plan to eradicate
the human trafficking of foreign women, sources said over the weekend.
The comprehensive action plan is scheduled to be worked out by the end of this
Fake marriages are one way foreign women, especially those from developing
countries, are brought to Japan and forced to work in the sex industry.
Other main points in the government's plan will include measures to help
human-trafficking victims return to their home countries, the sources added.
But there will be no measures to set up shelters that specialize in protecting
those victims, they said.
Instead, such women will be shuttled off to regular domestic-violence shelters,
which critics say will overburden that system.
In June, the U.S. State Department's annual report on human trafficking said
Japan's measures against human trafficking were insufficient.
It put Japan on the ``Tier 2 Watch List'' and said Japan was a destination for
Asian, Latin American and Eastern European women trafficked for forced labor
and sexual exploitation.
Japan must now make new laws or revise its current laws in order to ratify the
international human-trafficking prevention agreement.
To do so, the government has already asked the Legislative Council, an advisory
panel, to examine revisions to the Criminal Code. The planned revisions are
included in the main points of the government' action plan.
However, revisions of the Criminal Code alone are apparently insufficient to
completely eradicate the trafficking.
Therefore, several other measures, not only those for the prevention of sham
marriages but also those to introduce stricter standards for the issuance of
entertainment visas for singers and dancers, will be included in the plan.
Meanwhile, the government wants to enlist the help of the human-trafficking
victims to arrest members of international crime syndicates engaged in the sex
To make the victims more willing, the government plans to offer them support
for their return to their home countries. The support measures will include
referring the victims to international aid organizations.
On the other hand, the government does not plan to set up shelters specifically
for human-trafficking victims. Instead, it plans to accommodate the victims in
government-run domestic-violence shelters or strengthen cooperation with
privately run shelters for foreign women.
However, an official at a government-run shelter said: ``We are now at full
capacity with domestic-violence victims. If we are also required to accommodate
human-trafficking victims, we will have to increase the number of staffers,
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