President & CEO of Hitachi, Ltd
Mr. Toshiaki HIgasihara
Letter of Request regarding Hitachi’s participation to the bid for the Jerusalem Light Rail
We are deeply embarrassed by the news that Hitachi ltd. is among the companies who will participate in the bid for the Jerusalem light rail line which is going to be expanded in the Occupied West Bank.
Jerusalem Light Rail which connects Jerusalem city and illegal Israeli settlements has been internationally criticized as a project to promote the exploitation of Palestinian land and the violation of Palestinian’s freedom of movement. Illegality of Israeli settlements was unambiguously concluded in the advisory opinions of International Court for Justice in 2004.
In 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories recommended to suspend all operations which aid in the establishment or maintenance of Israeli settlements, citing Veolia Environment’s activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories including its investment on the JLR.
Facing with the international boycotting, Veolia, which is said to have lost more than 20 billion USD because of boycott campaign, sold all of its business operations in Israel including JLR in 2015.
In this context, In July 2017, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a warning on its website, warning that “settlement activities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are in violation of international law, and one must be aware of the financial, reputational and legal risks as well as possibility that involvement in such activities can be regarded as the violation of human rights when involved with economic activities (for example, economic and financial activities, provision of service, purchase of real estate etc.) in these areas.”
“Who Profits from the Occupation”, an Israeli peace group, already pointed out in 2014 that Hitachi’s heavy machineries were used in Israeli army’s demolition of Palestinian houses. In response to this report, your company answered that based on the “Hitachi Group Human Rights Policy” which emphasizes the responsibility to respect human rights through implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, you will continue to use our best efforts to reduce the likelihood of similar events from happening in the future.
However, Hitachi’s heavy machineries are still used in the house demolition and we don’t know what kind of “best efforts” have been done towards such situation. Furthermore, your company is going to participate in the bid for the JLR. This makes us doubt about your sincerity in the above-cited answer.
Now Israel is accelerating settlement building and moving toward annexation of those areas, in cooperation with radically pro-Israeli policy of Trump administration. If we keep silent about Israeli settlement activities, the peace in the Middle East will become impossible and the humanitarian crisis in the occupied Palestinian Territories will become uncontrollable and such concerns of International community are becoming reality.
Abe administration has been asserted the necessity of peace efforts based on the two-state solution on the one hand and at the same time it has proactively promoted to strengthen the relation between Japan and Israel pushing Japanese companies to be engaged with Israeli businesses on the other hand. However we should be well aware that these two policies are contradicting each other and short-sighted failing to understand the serious legal, economic and political impact of Israeli settlement policy. Japanese companies should properly understand the related UN resolutions and the critical situation in Palestine without depending on the fluctuating policy of changing state policy and conduct human rights due diligence regarding their business with long-term perspective.
Based on the above understanding, we demand that Hitachi should respect International law and its own human rights policy and immediately stop participating in the bid for the Jerusalem Light Rail. We also demand that Hitachi should take concrete measures to prevent the ongoing use of its heavy equipment in the Occupied Palestinian Territories by Israeli armies, including official publication of its stance against such inhumane use of its equipment.
If you need more detailed information on the situation of human rights abuse such as house demolitions by the Israeli army in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as well as the use of your company’s equipment by Israeli army, please contact us. We are ready to cooperate in that point.
May 30, 2018
Artists Against Occupation
Association for support of Al Ahli Arab Hospital
BDS japan preparatory committee
Group for Palestine Studies, Osaka
Network against Japan Arms Trade
Palestine Forum Japan
Palestine-Sendai Solidarity Group