Last year, Richard Armitage, Joseph Nye, Michael Green and others published a paper about Japan in which they asked if Japan would end up becoming a Tier-two nation. Secretary Armitage, here is my answer to you. Japan is not, and will never be, a Tier two country. That is the core message I am here to make.However, Japan already is a "Tier 2 country."
Since 2001, Japan has ranked as a Tier 2 country in the U.S. State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. This means that Japan does not yet fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking but is making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
The TIP Japan country report for 2012 notes:
During the year, the Japanese government did not develop or enact anti-trafficking legislation that would fill key gaps in facilitating anti-trafficking prosecutions, and the government did not arrest, prosecute, or convict a single forced labor perpetrator in 2011.
Draft and enact a comprehensive anti-trafficking law prohibiting all forms of trafficking and prescribing sufficiently stringent penalties that are commensurate with other serious crimes; significantly increase efforts to investigate and prosecute forced labor cases, and punish offenders with jail time; increase the enforcement of bans on deposits, punishment agreements, withholding of passports, and other practices that contribute to forced labor in the foreign trainee program; continue to proactively investigate and, where warranted, punish government complicity in trafficking or trafficking-related offenses; further expand and implement formal victim identification procedures to guide officials in the identification of forced labor; continue to ensure victims are not punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being in a human trafficking situation; establish protection policies for all victims of trafficking, including male victims and victims of forced labor; ensure that protection services, including medical and legal services, are fully accessible to victims of trafficking regardless of income; and aggressively investigate, prosecute, and punish Japanese nationals who engage in child sex tourism.
Maybe the speechwriter should have written the softer sounding "second tier" country. "Tier 2" is legalese, especially the kind that suggests international accountability and comparison. And for those in the human rights community the designation hones in on Japan's long and unfettered history of human trafficking, especially of women and girls for sexual slavery.