The mother of a young Kiwi man who died after being tied up for days in a Japanese psychiatric hospital is feeling hopeful the country's government will be taken to task over its care of mentally unwell patients.
Japan's domestic human rights progress was put under the spotlight on Tuesday night (NZ time) during the United Nation's 28th Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo will also be meeting with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the death of Kelly Savage, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) spokesman said.
Martha Savage's son Kelly was 27 when he died in May, a week after suffering a heart attack and more than two weeks after he was hospitalised for mental health issues.
It had not been established what caused the heart attack, but doctors suspected deep vein thrombosis as a result of being restrained for up to 10 days continuously.
Savage thought Japan was unlikely to get rid of the use of restraints without international pressure.
"Japan does try to respond to human rights concerns of other countries. I think they do take into account external pressure," she said.
"What I've heard anecdotally from people is the Japanese really do care about not being considered a third world country, and [seen] as one of the big players."
She had been heartened to hear during Japan's opening speech that they had implemented recommendations made in a previous periodic review several years ago.
New Zealand officials made four recommendations at the review, the first being that Japan meet its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
This included following guidelines on Article 14 of the convention to "protect the security and personal integrity of persons with disabilities who are deprived of their liberty".
A clause in Article 14 explicitly states that protection included "eliminating the use of forced treatment, seclusion and various methods of restraint in medical facilities, including physical, chemical and mechanic restrains".
These practices were not consistent with the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment against persons with disabilities, the clause stated.
The recommendation "definitely" covered Kelly's case and the use of restraints, Savage said.
"I would have liked them to say more about psychiatric institutions but I understand they only have a minute and ten seconds to say things."
Savage was also encouraged to see both a Japanese legal industry group and a mental disability rights activist group had made written submissions about the treatment of the disabled and mentally unwell.
"This is the first time people have even commented about psychiatric institutions."