During my presentation before the Third Committee of the General Assembly in October, I was able to announce that the Government of Japan had issued me an invitation to conduct an official visit from 1 to 8 December. A visit would be an important moment to evaluate certain aspects of freedom of expression in the country, such as the implementation of the 2013 Act on Specially Designated Secrets (about which the Human Rights Committee expressed concern last year), online rights, media freedom, and access to information. I have previously met with Japanese officials and members of civil society to learn more about these issues and looked forward to a productive visit.
We had been deep in the work of setting up meetings and preparing for the visit. Unfortunately, last Friday, the Permanent Mission of Japan in Geneva indicated that my visit would not take place as the Government would not be able to arrange meetings with relevant officials. The Government suggested postponing the visit until the fall of 2016.
I asked the Japanese authorities to reconsider their decision, but the Mission confirmed to me yesterday that the visit will not go forward and is now canceled. Of course, I hope that the visit will be rescheduled. In the meantime, we will continue to engage with the Government – as we do with all governments – through regular communications, meetings in Geneva and New York, and other opportunities as they arise.