5 Protection of human trafficking victims

Human trafficking is considered a serious violation of human rights and hence an amendment of the Penal Code (Act No. 66 of 2005) made the buying or selling of human beings an offense. In December 2009 a Ministerial Meeting Concerning Measures against Crimes formulated the 2009 Action Plan to Combat Trafficking Persons. In accordance with that Action Plan the government and local governments are making active efforts to discover and identify victims of human trafficking in the course of performing their duties while the police, immigration bureaus, and Labor Standards Inspection Offices, etc. are also making the effort to identify victims of human trafficking in the course of controlling illegal acts. Identified female trafficking victims are provided with temporary protection by Women’s Consulting Offices, etc. or entrusted to private shelters. The number of victims for whom temporary protection was provided by Women's Consulting Offices, etc. in FY 2010 was 33 (cumulative total since FY 2005 of 275) (Source: Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare). If those identified as being illegal over-stayer are then discovered to be the victims of human trafficking, they can be granted special permission to remain in Japan even if they are in the midst of deportation procedures. In 2010 special permission was granted to all six human trafficking victims (cumulative total since 2005 of 121) (Source: The Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Justice).

In addition, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has a support program that enables human trafficking victims to return to their home countries in cooperation with the police, immigration bureaus, and Women's Consulting Offices, etc. In 2010, 20 persons from three countries (cumulative total since 2005 of 196 persons from six countries) were provided with support to return to their home countries (Source: International Organization for Migration).