Last updated: 2021.5.21
The Japan Civil Liberties Union (JCLU) is a public interest association which aims to protect and promote human rights for all persons regardless of beliefs, religion or political opinion. JCLU’s work is conducted in accordance with internationally recognized human rights principles, namely the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The JCLU was founded in 1947, the year the new Constitution of Japan was promulgated. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) played an important role in founding the JCLU. The JCLU is affiliated with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the International League for Human Rights (ILHR).
Membership is open to anyone who agrees with the JCLU’s purposes and is willing to work for the improvement of human rights situations. The JCLU currently has about 450 members, 60% of whom are lawyers engaged in private practice, and others include citizens of various professions such as scholars, journalists, and students. The JCLU is financed by membership dues and unconditional donations from its members and outside supporters. The national headquarters of the JCLU is in Tokyo and there is a chapter in Osaka.
The JCLU frequently issues statements, memoranda, and opinions on specific human rights cases relating to activities of the national and local government, the Diet (parliament), and the courts of Japan. In addition, it has acted as a leader in movements for new domestic legislation and ratification of the international human rights treaties by the Japanese Government. Member attorneys are active in a broad range of human rights litigations involving the freedom of religion, freedom of information, postwar compensation, environmental pollution, refugees, and serious criminal cases. The JCLU formally supports some of these cases. Recent activities include rights of non-citizens and freedom of information. The JCLU organizes seminars, meetings and symposiums, conducts research, and publishes reports, books and newsletters.
- Representative Directors
- Kitamura, Yoichi (Attorney-at-Law)
- Kamiya, Masako (Professor, Gakushuin University)
- Serizawa, Hitoshi (Professor Emeritus, Aoyama Gakuin University)
- Masumi, Saeko (Attorney-at-Law)
- Makita, Junichiro (Attorney-at-Law)
Statements and Opinions
Statement Regarding the Rejection of Recommended Scholars by the Prime Minister (Summary)
On October 1, 2020, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga appointed new members of the Science Council of Japan (“SCJ”) , but refused to appoint six out of the 105 recommended scholars.
Under the Act on Science Council of Japan amended in 2004, the Prime Minister shall appoint the members based on the recommendation of SCJ. This is the first time that the government refused to appoint recommended candidates since 2004. The government has not provided any satisfying explanation.
Not only is this a significant shift which undermines legal stability and predictability, but the government’s lack of explanation has led to speculations that the six scholars were not appointed because they have been critical of the government. It is raising concerns that it may have a chilling effect on scholars and infringe on academic freedom. Therefore, the Japan Civil Liberties Union expresses its concerns and demands the Prime Minister to provide an appropriate explanation.
Full Japanese text: LINK
 Translator’s note: Established in 1949, SCJ is an organization operating independently of the government for the purpose of promoting and enhancing the all fields of science including humanities, social sciences, life sciences, natural sciences, and engineering in Japan. See http://www.scj.go.jp/en/index.html.
 Translator’s note: See Article 7 clause 2 of Act on Science Council of Japan (日本学術会議法). See also Article 17 of Act on Science Council of Japan for the appointment power of SCJ.
Statement Requesting the Central Government to Commence Discussions with Okinawa for a True Resolution of the Henoko Issue (summary)
The Central and Local Government Dispute Management Council announced its opinion on the revocation by Okinawa of its permission for reclamation work in the Henoko Bay area. The JCLU requests the central government to review, in accordance with the Council’s opinion, the government’s position that relocation to Henoko is the sole solution to secure the return of Futenma Air Station, and to commence serious discussions with Okinawa on all possible courses of action including relocating the Marine Corps outside of Japan.
Full statement (Japanese)
Statement Urging Rejection of Wiretapping Law Amendment (summary)
The Bill on Partial Amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure. (189th Diet Session, Cabinet Bill No. 42) pending in the current Diet session includes amendments to the Act on Wiretapping for Criminal Investigation (“Wiretapping Act”). These amendments interfere with free speech and publication. Moreover, they alter fundamentally the structure of the Wiretapping Act which had set forth strict requirements for allowing the interception of communication as exceptions, in light of the secrecy of communication guaranteed by the Constitution. Because these amendments would essentially abolish important conditions, the JCLU is of the opinion that the bill violates the secrecy of communication and the freedom of expression, and is therefore unconstitutional. Minor adjustments to the bill would not render it constitutional; therefore, the bill should be rejected immediately.
Full statement (Japanese)
- Universal Principle
- Report on Post War Responsibility of Japan for Reparation and Compensation