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Kazuko Ito

Attorney at Law, Mimosa Forest Law Firm, Tokyo

Vice President, Human Rights Now,

PhD. Business and Human Rights

  Kazuko Ito has been practicing law since 1994.

As a human rights lawyer, she works on various issues, such as women's rights, children's rights, criminal justice and the death penalty, and public interest litigation in Japan, as well as critical human rights issues around the world. 

As a legal scholar, Kazuko Ito is specialized in International human rights law, gender, business and human rights.


Area of Practice

Human Rights, Entertainment, Gender Based Violence,

Family Law(Divorce, Violence, Will and Inheritance)

Property Law

Corporate Law(Risk Management, Corporate social responsibility,

Business and Human Rights), Intellectual Property

■ Admission

     1994( Tokyo)

■ Education

  • Waseda University Doctorial Researcher(2020-2023)

  • NYU School of Law Visiting scholar (2004,2005)

  • Supreme Court’s Legal Training Center(1993)

  • Waseda Universty(1985-1989) 

■ Membership

  • Human Rights Now(Vice President)

  • Gender Law Society(Board Member)

  • International Human Rights Law Society(Board member)

  • Gender Equality Committee, Japan federation of Bar Associations


    Kazuko Ito has been practicing law since 1994.

    As a human rights lawyer, she works on various issues, such as women's rights,

children's rights, criminal justice and the death penalty, and public interest litigation

in Japan, as well as critical human rights issues around the world with special focus in Asia.. 

    As a visiting scholar at the New York University School of Law, Kazuko researched international human rights law and conducted a comparative study of criminal justice systems. In 2005, she worked for several human rights organizations, including the New York City-based Center for Constitutional Rights.

   In 2006, Kazuko joined Human Rights Now (HRN), a Japan-based international human rights NGO and has served as the Secretary General until 2022, and now served as the vice president..     


  Human Rights Now is the first Japan-based international human rights NGO with UN special consultative status  to work for the promotion and protection of human rights for people around the world, with a special focus in Asia.

    The organization works on human rights issues using a variety of techniques including investigation, grass-roots empowerment for human rights defenders, solidarity action, and advocacy.   








      Kazuko's Recent focus of activity includes gender based violence and supporting #Metoo movement in Japan which led recent legal reform of sex crime in Japan, digital violence against women which also led recent legislative development in favor of survivors, human rights of entertainers, and business and human rights.










・“Why was it "Not Guilty?"- Criminal Justice underestimating sexual violence"

(2019, Discover 21)

・ “Why is "Fast Fashin" cheap?” (2016, Commons)

・" Human rights beyond the border( 2013, Iwanami Shoten)

・“The Problem of False Confession in the Post-DNA World”

( Translation, Author Steven Drizin, Richard Leo, Nihon Hyoron Sha)

・Challenge of Saibanin System toward the end of wrongful conviction(Gendai Jinbun Sya, 2006),

Articles(written in English)

    The Wrong Target~ Japan’s media should reflect on their coverage of Mako and Kei Komuro

     (FCCJ 2021)

    What Happened After the "Black Box" Opened in Japan? We Will Never Be Silent,

         in The Global #MeToo Movement (Co-author 2020,Full Court Press)

 Wrongful Convictions and Recent Criminal Justice Reform in Japan

    (University of Cincinnati Law Review, 2013)

 Rule of Law and the Criminal Justice Reform in Japan

      (National Taiwan University Law Review, 2011)

Articles(written in Japanese)


   Dynamic interpretation of Human Rights Treaty Bodies on the issues of

     Business and Human Rights―Focusing of states’ extraterritorial duty to protect human rights

     (Hoken Ronsyu Vol.185 and 186, 2023)

  Fukshima Nuclear Disaste and rights to information

      (Human Rights International, Vol.24 2013

30 years of CEDAW: Its Impact, Development and Domestic Challenge

       (Trends in the Sciences, 2010)

・“World Report of International Human Rights Law”

   ( Law Seminar 2006-2008, Nihon Hyoron Sha).

  Business and Human Rights: A Japan-based NGO’s Perspective(2023, NYU School of law)

  Discussion on #MeToo Movement and Activities/ Updates in Japan and Korea (Women in Law Japan 2020)

  The #MeToo Movement in Japan(2019, Duke Law School)

 The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Human Rights Issues in Global Supply Chains( 2018, New York City Bar)


 Cases and activities 


  ◆Criminal Justice

  In her early career, Kazuko Ito has handled important wrongful conviction and false charge cases, including Retrial of Death Penalty – Nabari Case and Juvenile False Charge Case “Chofu Case”.

  Based on the professional experience, she has been involved with comprehensive criminal justice reform, including the Saiban-In system~the Japanese civil participation system into criminal procedure which was introduced in 2009.

  She conducts extensive research on comparative study of criminal justice reform to prevent wrongful convictions in the world.

  As a visiting scholar of NYU School of Law in 2004-2005, she researched comparative study of criminal justice system as well as international human rights law.

   ◆Defending the Rights of Women and children

 Kazuko Ito has worked for  numerous women's rights litigations and cases on sexual exploitation against Asian children.

   The cases include sexual violence and harassment, labour rights violations in working place domestic violence, digital sexual violence, online harassment and defamation abuse of fundamental human rights of entertainers.

   She serves as the chief of the Gender Equality Committee of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and a board member of Gender Law Society in Japan.

   She has made advocacy efforts for policy change of sexual violence in Japan. 

   After landmark ruling of Tokyo district court in favor of female victim of forced recruitment into porn industry, she has dedicated for prevention of trafficking to the porno industry in Japan and redress the digital sexual violence. These efforts resulted to the recent new law to stop adult porn exploitation(2022).

   Kazuko Ito also conducted extensive research of comparative study of sex crime definition and advocate for reform based on international human rights standards, either No Means No or Yes Means Yes law reform.

   She made effort to achieve recent development in this field, the 2023 revision of sex crime definition  in penal code in Japan.

  ◆Business and Human Rights

   Since the Rana Plaza accident happened in 2013, Kazuko has committed into business and human rights issues in global supply chain in Asia. She has led the Uniqlo and supply chain project together with Hong Kong based NGOs, including undercover investigation of Uniqlo's supplier factories in China and  global campaign calling Uniqlo's responsibility to respect human rights. In collaboration with Asian NGOs, she continues to watch Japanese business behavior from the rights holders' perspective and call for accountability. She writes extensively in this matter including her doctoral dissertation


   ◆Arm-military action  and human rights  

   Kazuko Ito  handled the U.S. Yokota Air Base Pollution Lawsuit.

   She also dedicated to rescue of three Japanese hostages in Iraq in 2004 and worked as their representative.

   In 2005, she joined the Center for Constitutional Rights, a NY based human rights NGO as a visiting lawyer and worked on human rights situation of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

   Currently, she is one of joint representative of the Japan NGO network of nuclear weapon abolition.



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