10 NGOs in Japan Advocating for Human Rights

Human Rights Now (HRN)

HRN is an international human rights NGO based in Tokyo, Japan. It was founded in 2006 by a group of human rights professionals as the first international human rights NGO based in Japan. Today, HRN has over 700 members working together to promote and protect human rights of people worldwide while putting a special focus on Asia.

HRN received the UN special consultative status in 2012, which provided it with an opportunity to participate in the UN decision making process. The organization is currently present in Tokyo, Osaka, New York, Geneva and Myanmar. The organization implements activities throughout Asia and the Middle East where it highlights the human rights situation and enables victims of rights violations to have their voices heard.

Amnesty International Japan

Amnesty International is the largest human rights NGO in the world with millions of members in 150 countries and regions. Amnesty international Japan was established in 1970 with a goal to inform people in Japan about human rights abuses happening around the world, as well as to report on human rights abuses in the country.

The organization conducts research, organizes campaigns and educational activities, and lobbies the government with a goal of ending and preventing violations of human rights. To ensure that Japanese citizens are promptly informed on the state of human rights in the country and worldwide, Amnesty International Japan works in three main areas: communicating, extending circles and linking people, in order to realize their vision of “a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch is an international human rights NGO investigating and reporting on human rights violations around the world. HRW is supported by more than 450 staff members of 70+ nationalities, who work to protect people at risk, from vulnerable minorities to refugees and children in need.

Human Rights Watch has been present in Japan since 2009. Its activities involve advocacy towards the government to change the laws and adopt policies that would put an end to human rights abuses. The organization employs human rights researchers in the field who uncover facts about human rights abuses and share them with millions of people through social media channels daily.

Hurights Osaka

Hurights Osaka is a Japanese NGO with a goal to uphold the respect of human rights in the country and the Asia-Pacific region.

The organization collects and disseminates materials on human rights which often encompass information about human rights practices and issues. It also conducts research on a range of human rights issues such as marginalization of indigenous people, minorities, refugees, migrant workers and other vulnerable communities. Hurights Osaka also organizes educational activities at national and regional levels to promote better understanding and practice of human rights and publishes materials in both English and Japanese languages for a wider public use.

Lighthouse: Center for Human Trafficking Victims

Lighthouse is Tokyo based NGO that fights for the rights of human trafficking victims and works to eliminate this issue in Japan. It is committed to fighting for a society without human trafficking and serves as a voice of human trafficking victims.

Lighthouse implements a variety of activities, including education and training of law enforcement and government officials to assist human trafficking victims and investigate cases and organization of awareness campaigns and seminar to draw more attention to this ongoing issue. It also provides confidential consultation services to victims via a toll-free multilingual hotline and via e-mail and lobbies the government to change legislation since there are no laws against human trafficking in Japan.

Center for Prisoner’s Rights (CPR)

The CPR was founded in 1995 as the first NGO in Japan specializing in prison reform with a goal of reforming Japanese prison conditions in accordance with international human rights standards, as well as to abolish the death penalty.

The organization conducts research on human rights violations in Japanese prisons and makes them visible to the wider public. It also provides legal advice and assistance to prisoners and promotes ratification of international human rights treaties. Four to five times a year, the CPR publishes a newsletter containing features on prison litigations, reports on visits to foreign prisons and other CPR’s activities. The newsletter is sent to about 5.000 people including prisoners and their families, lawyers and researchers.

Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Center (AJWRC)

AJWRC is a Japanese NGO working to eradicate all forms of violence and discrimination against women with a vision of a “democratic Japanese society based on respect for human rights and gender equality, and a fair and sustainable global society”.

AJWRC addresses gender biases and multiple forms of discrimination while challenging the conventional concept of peace and security with a goal of eliminating violence, including sexual violence, trafficking and exploitation. It uses a feminist lens to advocate on alternative politics based on human rights and gender equality and promotes networking and empowerment of women. To achieve these goals, AJWRC works in three program areas: information sharing and networking, education and training, and advocacy and campaign.

Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute (BLHRRI)

BLHRRI was founded in 1968 with an aim of establishing human rights in Japanese society and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the society, with a special focus on discrimination of Buraku-an outcast minority group living on the margins of Japanese society.

To achieve its goal of putting an end to discrimination and establishing human rights, BLHRRI conducts research and investigation in the fields of economy, history, society, legislation, civil movements, education and culture. Its research finds, and reports are regularly published and available to the wider public. The organization also develops programs and curriculum for human rights training and awareness raising in the form of human rights courses, workshops and seminars.

Shimin Gaikou Centre (Citizen’s Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples)

The Shimin Gaikou Centre is a grassroots human rights NGO that was established by a group of human rights activists back in 1982. Starting in 1987 and ever since, the Centre has been sending delegations to the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations held every year in Geneva, and because of these activities it became the first Japanese NGO with special consultative status to the UN Economic and Social Council.

The organization’s focus is on peace, human rights, environment and development issues on international level. It provides support to indigenous peoples and their human rights, often in cooperation with other indigenous peoples’ organization. So far, the Centre has established cooperation with the Ainu people, the Okinawa Ryuku people and the small island nations in the South Pacific.

Tokyo Metropolitan Human Rights Promotion Center (TMHRPC)

The TMHRPC was founded in 1998 to raise awareness on human rights of Tokyo Citizens through various activities such as education, promotion, and the protection of human rights. The organization’s ultimate goal is to eradicate discrimination and realize human rights of Dowa population in Japan.

The organization is known for providing year-round radio programs and special radio broadcasts during the Human Rights Week. It also creates human rights awareness posters and book covers with human rights slogans. Through various lectures, the TMHRPC educates the Japanese public on human rights issues and provides them with various sorts of books, videos, pamphlets and magazines on human rights.

About the author


Ada Hasanagic

Ada Hasanagić is a human rights professional currently working as a researcher at the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Previously, Ada graduated with honors from the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology and the University of Buckingham in the fields of Political Science and International Relations. Also, she earned a master’s degree in Democracy and Human Rights from the University of Sarajevo and University of Bologna.