Japan's Ippei Torii Recognized as a TIP Report Hero in 2013

Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Trafficking in Persons Report 2013

July 1, 2013

Each year, the Department of State honors individuals around the world who have devoted their lives to the fight against human trafficking. These individuals are NGO workers, lawmakers, police officers, and concerned citizens who are committed to ending modern slavery. They are recognized for their tireless efforts - despite resistance, opposition, and threats to their lives - to protect victims, punish offenders, and raise awareness of ongoing criminal practices in their countries and abroad.

Among the TIP Report Heroes this year was Ippei Torii from Japan.

Secretary of State John Kerry presents a certificate of appreciation to Ippei Torii, TIP Report Hero in 2013

Ippei Torii has been a forceful leader in anti-trafficking efforts as the secretary general for Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ), which has provided shelter and assistance to more than 4,000 foreign workers in Japan who have escaped from exploitative conditions or sought help recovering unpaid wages.

SMJ has offered advice and assistance by telephone to more than 1,200 foreign workers in Japan's Industrial Trainee and Technical Intern Program (TTIP), a government-run program that recruits unskilled labor to work at factories and farms in Japan. Awareness of Mr. Torii's network has spread by word of mouth by foreign workers, who distribute mobile phone numbers of SMJ staff to those in need of assistance.

The organization has also engaged in public awareness and lobbying campaigns both domestically and abroad to raise concerns about how traffickers exploit the TTIP to coerce foreign workers into conditions of forced labor.

Mr. Torii meets regularly with various ministries that are responsible for oversight of the program, and he has provided guidance to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. His persistence has kept this issue squarely before the press and on the political agenda in Japan.