Report and Company Survey Results on Labor Rights Abuses on Fishing Vessels and Their Links to Japan

HRN originally released the Japanese and English versions of our report “Human Rights Abuses in the Global Seafood Industry and Its Links to Japan” in November 2021. We followed the report up with a survey of 11 of the largest Japanese companies linked to the seafood industry, the results of which we also published as a report in May 2022.

You can download and read both the original report and the survey results report at the following links:

Fishing Vessel Labor Rights Report: HRN – Human Rights Abuses in the Global Seafood Industry and Its Links to Japan (Nov. 2021).pdf

(The Japanese version of the Fishing Vessel Labor Rights Report is available on our Japanese site at

Follow-up Survey Results Report: HRN – Report on the Results of a Questionnaire Survey of Japanese Fishing Companies (Dec. 2021).pdf

(The link to the Japanese version of the Follow-up Survey Results Report will be posted here when it is available.)

Summary of the Fishing Vessel Labor Rights Report: In this report, based on the case of human rights violations against Indonesian immigrant workers on a Chinese fishing boat discovered in May last year, the actual situation of human rights violations in the global fishery industry and its relationship to Japanese companies is clarified. The report makes recommendations to the Japanese government and the Japanese fishery industry to resolve the human rights violations in the industry, ensure transparency, and establish sustainable fishing practices.

Summary of the Follow-up Survey Results Report: Following our release of the above report, we surveyed 11 of the largest Japanese companies linked to the seafood industry: Maruha Nichiro Corporation; Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Ltd.; AEON Co., Ltd.; Seven & i Holdings Co., Ltd.; Mitsubishi Corporation; Mitsui & Co., Ltd.; Itochu Corporation; Sumitomo Corporation; Marubeni Corporation; Kyokuyo Co., Ltd.; Yokorei Co., Ltd. We received a response from 9 of them (all but Kyokuyo and Yokorei). In the survey we ask the companies questions and got results such as:

  • What information do they keep on their suppliers, and to what level down the supply chain? (The responses were about half that had knowledge down to the vessel level and half that had knowledge to some higher level.)
  • Do they disclose their supplier lists? (All of them answered no.)
  • How are their supplier audits handled, and do they release their methods and results? And do they conduct human rights due diligence? (The results for both of these questions were quite varied, some better than others, but all of them have room to improve.)
  • Does the company have a grievance mechanism accessible to fishing crews? (6 of the 9 said no or it was practically unavailable, but even for the three that said yes, they were either partially established or it was not clear that it was accessible to fishing crews.)

In our conclusion, we recommended that the Japanese government enact legislation requiring companies to keep and disclose lists of their suppliers down their entire supply chain and to conduct proper due diligence. We recommended that the companies conduct effective audits and due diligence, establish grievance mechanisms available to fishing crews, and the maintain dialog with all stakeholders.