About Child Labour
We are working on the issue of child labour around the world
Today, throughout the world, around 152 million children remain trapped in child labour, and many of them cannot go to school, and don’t have any time to play. They are denied the chance to be children. Most of them are exposed to the worst forms of child labor and work in hazardous environments, slavery, or other forms of forced labor.
The actual situation of child labour in the world
・ Child labour is defined as the dangerous, hazardous, and illegal labour of children under the age of 18.
・ The estimated number of child labourers in the world is 152 million (announced by the International labour Organization in 2017), 1 in 10 children in the world
・ Africa has the largest number of child labourers (72 million), and 1 in 5 children in Africa are child labourers
・ About 70% of child labour occurs in agriculture
Why does child labour still exist in the world?
Poverty is probably the biggest reason why children have to work. Children work because their parents are poor, and they have to support their families. Children sometimes have to work in unpaid situations as indentured servants to pay off their parents debts.
Culture and Demand
Poverty and social demands are not the only reasons why children are forced to work. In some countries, it is a commonly held belief that children should work. Some claim that ”There is no point for children to go to school", and "Girls specifically do not need, and/or should not be allowed to receive an education”.
Cheap and Obedient
Employers prefer children because they can be paid less and are easier to control. Some children work unpaid. Moreover, children are more obedient and easier to intimidate or scare than adults.
The failure of existing laws
Child labour is decried or banned by international treaties, and most countries around the world have laws prohibiting child labour. The International labour Organization (ILO), which established the treaty on international labour, established the "Minimum Age Convention" in 1973 which stipulated that not until the completion of compulsory education, may children work. However, national laws in many countries which prohibit child labour can be confusing and vague, and are often not enforced.
Vicious Economic Cycle
If consumers continually demand cheaper products, companies and suppliers have to cut costs to protect their profits. The costs that they cut the most are the procurement costs of ingredients, and the salaries of workers. People who are most affected from these cuts are the people who work in developing countries. When parental income drops, children have to work to support the family.
If everyone in the world hears the voices of children and takes action,
we can make the future without child labour.
ACE is a Japanese NGO/NPO working to address the issues of child labour around the world
Story, Mission, and Purpose
There are 152 million children around the world who cannot receive an education and are in danger of injury or disease due to the hazardous labour in which they are employed.
ACE takes action for the abolition and prevention of Child labour, both within Japan, and in our other project areas. Our project areas are in Japan, India, and Ghana.
In recent years, Child labour has become the focus of greater attention in the world, due to important and high profile events. In 2014, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to child labour activist, Kailash Satyarthi, founder of the Global March Against Child Labour. Kalaish's work inspired the creation of ACE, and many other efforts around the world. In addition, “Sustainable Development Goals” were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, which set a clear target of ending child labour by the year 2025.
Worldwide 70% of all child labourers work in agriculture. For this reason, we focus on the Cocoa and Cotton industries, which have widespread use of child labour. We operate not only through International cooperation, but also by collaborating with private corporations, and engaging in consumer education, to find solutions in Japan.
Saved about 1,200 children from Child labour, and supported education for 13,000 children in India and Ghana through Field Programs (2009 - 2015).
Organized events and seminars on child labour issues at schools, universities, organizations and companies etc. (392 places and about 33,000 participants between 2010 and 2015)
Acted as the secretariat for The Child labour Network (CL-Net), and organized campaign events annually. (513,935 signatures gathered and submitted to relevant Ministries of Japan in 2015)
Sold in excess of 16,100 Ladybird Chocolates “Shiawasewohakobu Tentoumushichoko” to support children in ACE’s Project area in Ghana (2015).
Collabourated with the Japanese chocolate maker, Morinaga & Co., Ltd. to produce and sell Fair Trade labelled chocolate with cacao produced in ACE’s Project area in Ghana (2014, 2015).
Conducted material procurement for apparel maker, Lee Japan Co., LTD. (2011 - 2013)
Produced and offered viewings of the documentary film “the Valentine Rising”: showed in 36 prefectures and 185 locations, with audiences totaling in excess of 8,000 people (2013.1 ～ 2014.8)
Published a primer book about Child labour “I am 8 years old, I don’t want to work anymore” (Godo-Shuppan, 2007, 15000 were published) and “Chocolate bringing happiness to children” (Godo-shuppan, 2015).
Reports and Statements
ACE Organization Profile
Fiscal Year 2015
Fiscal Year 2014
President and Managing Director
Since its establishment in 1997, ACE has been working in India, Ghana and Japan, with children, families, communities, companies, governments, and public administrators to solve child labour issues. We believe that collaboration and innovation are indispensable for solving global problems such as human rights. ACE will continue to work toward creating a sustainable society, exchanging knowledge, and empowering diverse stakeholders.
Yuka Iwatsuki, President
She founded ACE in 1997 while she was earning a Master’s degree from the Osaka School of International Public Policy. She served as a fellow at Winrock International, working on the Best Practices Report of the CIRCLE project (2006). Currently, she is acting as secretariat of STOP! Child Labour Network Japan, a board member of Global March Against Child Labour, and as a lecturer at J.F. Oberlin University. ACE was nominated for The U.S. Department of Labour's Iqbal Masih Award for the Elimination of Child labour (2012). ACE won the Nikkei Social Initiative Award in the International category (2015) for its solution model with corporate partners, involving consumers, to end child labour in the cocoa industry in Ghana.
Tomoko Shiroki, Managing Director
Tomoko graduated from Meiji Gakuin University, and received a Master’s degree from the Graduate School of Oriental and African Studies, at the University of London.
She founded ACE with Yuka Iwatsuki when they were still college students. After working at a development assistance consulting company, she started her current position at ACE in April, 2005.
Tomoko completed a social auditor course of SA8000 (international standards of human rights and labour), and she specialized in human rights in supply chains, and coordination with corporations. She has broad experience in project implementation in Ghana, as well as abroad survey experience.
ACE strives to solve the issue of child labour through engagement and partnership with local communities, businesses, and consumers
International cooperation activities to abolish and prevent Child Labor and to support Children and their families in India and Ghana.
1. Focusing on agriculture in rural areas, especially cacao bean and cotton seed production regions
71% of all child labourers in the world are engaged in agricultural sector. Some industry-wide initiatives to solve child labour issues have already succeeded in the world.
2. Listening to children’s voices and using them to inform the improvement of schools and local communities
It is oftentimes children themselves who understand their needs. We listen carefully to their voices and relay their voices to the community and social development.
3. Helping communities achieve self-independence by making sustainable systems in cooperation with local governments.
Establishing environments which provides all children with quality education and supporting community people to be independent economically, utilizing government systems.
Project in Ghana
Sustainable Management of cocoa farm and Improved Life via Education for the elimination of child labour
The product of the Cacao tree, the cocoa bean, which is the raw material for chocolate, is mainly produced in western Africa. As much as 70% of cocoa that Japan imports is from Ghana today.
In Ghana, throughout the process of producing cocoa, a lot of children are forced to work under dangerous conditions, such as using sharp hatchets or carrying heavy things. Those children are not allowed to go to school. One reason is that most cocoa farms are on such a small scale that farmers cannot make their own living only by producing cacao bean nor afford to send their children to school.
Another reason is that the educational system in Ghana itself is extremely weak. More severely, children who are victims of human trafficking have been found in poorer areas in northern Ghana.
After conducting a field survey in 2008, ACE launched “SMILE-Ghana Project” to protect children from child labour and support their education in partnership with the local NGO “Child Research for Action and Development Agency (CRADA).
1. Monitoring where child labour exists, checking school attendance and persuading parents to send their children to school.
2. Improving school environments in corporation with the school management committees, PTAs, village leaders and local governments.
3. Establishing child committees (Child Dignity Club) where children can discuss themselves about their own problems and convey their opinions to adults.
4. Improving children’s health through conducting health checks up and holding workshops for communities to learn about hygiene, nutrition and health.
5. Providing cocoa farmers with training in agricultural techniques to enhance productivity and earnings (Farmer Business School).
Overall the project intends to protect children from hazardous child labour and promote children’s rights by mobilizing local resources and improving livelihood of community as a whole.
The project has withdrawn more than 450 children from child labour and enrolled them into school and benefited more than 6,000 children by improving school environment.
This project is funded by individuals and corporate donations which is accumulated by the sales of chocolates, and Morinaga's "1 choco for 1 smile" campaign has been the one of the major supporters over the years.
MORINAGA & CO., LTD.
The first confectionary company in Japan to produce chocolate from bean to bar
Morinaga was established in 1899 and is the first Western-style confectionery manufacturer to introduce chocolate to Japan. Its annual sales (USD 1.64 billion/Euro1.27 billion, 2011) include confectionary products such as caramels, candy, chocolate, biscuits and other snacks. Morinaga is a major player in each category and delivering “Delicious, Fun and Healthy” values to Japanese and overseas customers, pursuing its dream “to be a company that serves children around the world.”
“1 Choco for 1 Smile” is a cause-related marketing campaign started in 2008 whereby Morinaga donates 1 Japanese yen (nearly 1 cent USD) for every box purchased of their selected chocolate products (prices vary from 100 yen to 300yen) during a special month. From 2008 to 2016, total Morinaga donations reached more than 100 million yen (nearly 1 million USD). Since 2011, ACE is partnering with Morinaga. Today, both Plan Japan and ACE receive donations from 1 Choco for 1 Smile and implement projects in Ghana and other cocoa producing countries.
6th grade, second son of a cocoa farmer
“Since my father struggled to make a living for our family, I felt that it was better to start working. That is why I missed school and started working on the cocoa farm” he said.
He often worked on the cacao farm instead of going to school and he did not have a school uniform or stationary. Now, he goes to school every day, wearing a uniform, and his dream is to be a soccer player.
His father Simon says that now that he understands the importance of children receiving an education, he has started to save money for them.
For more information about SMILE-Ghana project, please take a look at the file below: SMILE-Ghana Project (PDF)
Project in India
Promoting community Engagement for Assisting Change from child labour to Education in cotton seed production area in India
Cotton is the basic raw material for the clothes and towels we usually use daily. India has the largest area of cotton cultivation in the world. Where it is produced, thousands of children are forced to work pollinating flowers and picking cotton. According a report by the Indian Committee of the Netherlands, in 2014-2015, approximately 480,000 children were employed in the cottonseed farms in India.
The field survey conducted by ACE in 2007-2009 found that many girls were working without receiving primary education especially in hybrid cottonseed farms in the Telangana state of India. During fertilization and harvesting seasons, they worked long hours and suffered from various health issues due to chemical pesticides and the physical nature of their work.
Eliminating Child labour in cotton/
cottonseed farms with community participation and empowerment
To protect children from hazardous labour and ensure that they are enrolled in school, ACE launched in 2010 the “PEACE-India Project” in partnership with a local Indian NGO, “Society for People’s Economic & Educational Development (SPEED).” Overall the project mobilizes local resources and communities, promotes children’s rights, and protects children from child labour in the cotton sector.
PEACE-India Project (Promoting community Engagement for Assisting Change from child labour to Education in cottonseed production area in India)
Joglamba Gadmal District in Telangana, India
approx. 4-5 years in one community
1.Villagers withdraw their own children from hazardous labour
2.All school-aged children are ensured to attend formal school regularly with improved school environments.
3.Adolescent girls feel more independent and empowered to overcome gender issues.
4.Parents invest in their child’s education with better financial management and become independent from child labour.
Tackling Child Labour in the Cotton Sector in India
Achievements and Activities of PEACE-India Project:
Target area: Nagardoodi village
Project period: April 2010 to March 2014
Target area: Maddelabanda Village, Thatikunta Village
Project period: April 2014 to March 2019
To achieve the following project outcomes, various activities are conducted through mobilizing local resources and promoting children’s rights in the community. As a result, the project has withdrawn 204 children from child labour and ensured all 530 school-aged children in the village regularly go to school.
Through various awareness campaign and events, villagers are more aware of the importance of education. Villagers formed a “Child Rights Protection Forum (CRPF)” group to monitor child labour in the field and convince parents of child labourers to send their children to school.
A Bridge-School was established to provide non-formal education for children who were never-enrolled or dropped-out of schools. As a result, 100 children received a basic education and are now mainstreamed into formal school. School teachers, parents, children and village leaders started to hold regular meeting to discuss school problems together.
The school environment is improved through new classrooms and support to teachers in their requests to the local government.
60 Adolescent girls received vocational training to become more independent. They formed a girls group “Kastruba Gandhi Balikala Sangam (KGBS)” to solve problems they face in the village such as child marriage, drop-out, and the dowry system.
Cotton farmers received training on Non-Pesticide Management to improve their agricultural skills and income.
Komar and Lathika
13 and 12 years old sisters enrolled in the bridge school (both of their names changed to protect their privacy)
Two sisters started to work on a cotton farm because their father had no job because of alcoholism and their mother worked as a daily wage labourer. She borrowed money from a cotton farm owner. They are doing artificial fertilization. The daily wage is 70 rupees (about 140 yen) and they have to work even on weekends. They don’t have any chance to go school while their 8-year-old brother goes to elementary school.
She says, “I don’t like working on the farm. I always feel sick and have headache sand stomachaches because I breathe agricultural chemicals every day. I really want to go school rather than working there.”
Child Labor in Japan
The ILO identifies two million child laborers in developing nations out of the total number of 152 million in the world. As child poverty becomes a serious problem in Japan ― one out of seven children living below the poverty line ―, child labor might be increasing. ACE conducts research on child labor in Japan and has a plan to start a project to protect children in poverty from child labor.
- Report in brief (2017, September) (PDF)
- Statement on death of fifteen-year-old Japanese child laborer (January, 2018) (PDF)
ACE’s advocacy program has two targets- communicating with policy makers and the general public. For the government, we advocate for better policies to reduce child labour, and to raise the Japanese government to the highest international standards. For the general public, we publicize about child labour through various media including both conventional media, such as newspapers, magazines and television and SNSs, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as by hosting campaigns to raise money and awareness, such as through charity auctions, crowdfunding, and informational campaigns. We also develop educational materials so that they can be utilized in outreach activities, such as school visits, lectures, and workshops.
1. Round table on SDG 8.7
ACE hosted a roundtable on SDG 8.7 in May 2016 with Child Labor Coalition(U.S.).
Roundtable Meeting SDG8.7 (PDF)
2. Policy Advocacy
Currently, ACE has been advocating for the Japanese government to make new laws to encourage businesses to adhere to human rights due-diligence in their supply chains, based on the notion of the U.N. Business and Human Rights Guiding Principles.
ACE has conducted research into child labour in Japan.
Japanese Child Labour 2017 (PDF)
4. Networking and Campaigns
Stop Child Labour Network (CL-Net)
The Stop Child Labour Network (CL-Net) is a Japanese network organization which aims to contribute to solving child labour problems in the world. The members of CL-Net includes NGOs and trade unions. It was founded in September 2004, and ACE has been the secretariat for CL-Net since its inception. The CL-Net’s activities include policy advocacy and general public awareness-raising. It hosts the “SDG 8.7 Study Group” and conducts the “Red Card Campaign”. Since 2008, the CL-Net has collected signatures on a large scale throughout Japan, an effort which is aimed at putting pressure on the government to take actions to eliminate child labour in developing countries. The number of signature collected totaled 170 million by 2015.
Other participating networks
NGO - labour Union International Cooperation Forum
Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC)
NGO Fukuoka Network (FUNN)
NPO / NGO network for improving social responsibility
Development Education Association and Resource Center (DEAR)
Japan NGO Network for Education (JNNE)
Joint Committee for Coordinating and Supporting Voluntary Disaster Relief
CSR Review Forum ? Japan
Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons (JNATIP)
Salesforce user group
Japan Citizen’s Network for TICAD
Japan NPO Center
Japan Civil Netwokk (JCN)
East Japan great earthquake children support network
Japan Ethical Initiative
Global March Against Child labour (global march against child labour)
Awareness - Raising and Support Program
The problem of child labour cannot be solved by ACE alone. We are working to create solidarity with people and organizations in Japan and abroad, to solve this very important problem, and to make the world a better place for children.
Selling products for fundraise and promote ethical consumption
We sell fair trade products and original goods, such as "ladybug chocolates" to raise money and promote ethical consumption.
ACE also sells books and teaching materials for people to understand child labour, and how to solve the issue. Proceeds from ACE's fundraising activities are used to eliminate child labour.
Volunteer Activities, Events and Seminars
Promoting volunteer activities and conducting various events, collecting contributions from both individuals and corporations.
We also organize events and seminars on child labour issues at schools, universities, organizations and companies. (Events have occurred in 392 places, with about 33,000 participants, between 2010 and 2015)
ACE 15 year Anniversary Project
ACE produced the movie “Valentine Rising” in 2012 as a 15-year anniversary project. This project was conducted with Japanese high school and college students who went to Ghana, on a mission to understand the reality of child labour, and to strategize about what they need to do to solve the issue, and take action themselves.
The film has been showed in 36 prefectures of Japan, in a total of 185 places, and has had a combined audience in excess of 8,000 people (2013.1 ～ 2014.8)
Socially Responsible Business Acceleration Program
The business world cannot stay indifferent to labour rights violations in their supply chains. The UN Guiding Principals of Business and Human Rights demands that corporate interests take responsibility - that they respect human rights and conduct due-delligence. Increasingly governments are passing new laws demanding transparency in the supply chain that companies must adhere to, such as the Modern Slavery Act (U.K.). Child labour is one of the major violations of labour rights and it is a matter of sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and risk and brand/corporate value.
ACE promotes socially responsible business through encouraging responsible sourcing, especially for cooca and cotton. ACE offers trainings and seminars to provide learning opportunities for corporate employees. ACE also offers member "salons" 2-3 times a year for companies subscribing to corporate memberships to provide learning opporutnities
a. Promoting Ethical Business and Consumption
ACE promote ethical business and consumption.
Case Study - Making Chocolate with Child Labour-Free Cocoa from Ghana
Since 2009, ACE has been implementing the “SMILE-GHANA” project in 8 communities in the Ashanti region in Ghana. In 2016, in collaboration with the Japanese trading company Tachibana & Co.,Ltd, ACE succeeded in making child labour-free cacao available, which is sourced from communities where ACE has implemented the “SMILE-GHANA”project. With this cacao, several chocolate makers and chocolatiers have been making chocolate. For more information, please take a look at the file below.
Making Chocolate with Child Labour-Free Cocoa Beans from Ghana (PDF File)
Case Study ? Transforming Farmers to Organic Farmers for Sustainable Impact
Since 2010, ACE has been implementing the “PEACE-INDIA” project in 3 communities in the Trangana State of India. ACE is working closely with the company KOWA to help the cotton farmers from the project area to transition to organic farming. We aim to produce saleable goods out of the raw organic cotton, which will then be used to fund future efforts of ACE. For more information, please take a look at the file below.
PEACE-India Project - Eliminating child labour in India cotton production (PDF File)
b. Consulting Services
Responding to corporate supply chains and human rights issues
In recent years, corporate social responsibility and human rights issues in the supply chain in business, has become a huge concern for companies, as world attention as increasingly been drawn to this problem.
ACE has been implementing various programs such as lectures and training, fostering of awareness through stakeholder dialogues, human resource development, and a review (auditing) programs meant to shed light on human rights risks in the supply chain. These efforts are intended to help solve the business and human rights issues for our clients in Japan, by utilizing our experience from combatting child labour problems in Asia and Africa.
In addition, ACE currently has 4 staff members (as of August 2017) who have completed the SA 8000 social auditor course, which is an international standard relating to labor and human rights, which provides a deeper knowledge base with which ACE can work to solve the problems of child labour.
Please join our Corporate Membership Program
We are looking for companies to join us, to support our activities. If you are eager to work on the issues of human rights in your business, please join our Corporate Membership Program.
We are working on creating communities for corporate members as a place for sharing knowledge and experiences with companies, and promoting efforts toward a better future. Currently, about 30 companies and organizations participate as corporate members, and since this year we hold a salon about once every three to four months and exchange information and disseminate information.
Corporate members: 50,000 yen (per one unit)
labour Union/Non-profit Organizations: 30,000 yen (per one unit)
*Each member should pay annual fee for ACE fiscal year (from September to August).
**The number of units they pay is voluntary decided by each member, but member must pay at least one unit per one year.
Membership Card (update annually)
Participation to Corporate Membership Salon (2 -3 times a year)
Providing information and consultation for concerns of Child labour
Sending working papers on child labour, annual reports and activity reports published by ACE.
Discounts on ACE Consultation, and lectures (depends on annual fee units)
Asahi Kasei - Fibers and Textiles SBU
Avanti co., Ltd.
budori Co., Ltd
Eatwell Co., Ltd.
Fuji Oil Holdings, Inc.
Kowa Company. Ltd.
Lloyd’s Register Japan K.K.
Morinaga & Co., Ltd.
Sanyo Paper Co., Ltd.
Sony Digital Entertainment Services Inc.
Tachibana & Co.,Ltd.
Takihiyo Co., Ltd.
The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd.
Yamaguchi Mica Co., Ltd.
Latest updates of our activities, and news about child labour around the world
We value our partnerships with various stakeholders around the world. Read what our partners say about ACE
CSR Group Manager, Corporate Communications Division
Morinaga’s dream since its inception has been to be a company that improves the lives of children worldwide with our vision of “Delicious, Fun and Healthy.”
Since 2011, we have been partners with ACE in the “Smile Ghana Project” which supports the creation of a better environment for children in cacao producing countries, so that children can receive an education and have fuller and happier lives.
We respect and sympathize with ACE’s passionate mission and their tenacious efforts to "protect the children of the world from child labor and give them a reason to smile". We feel that education is a key element for empowering children and giving them the confidence to open their futures.
We will continue to work with ACE, along with our customers, whose purchases of chocolate through the "1 smile for 1 chocolate" campaign donates 1 yen from the purchase of target products, so that happiness can come to all - not only the people who eat chocolate, but everyone else, including the children who live in cacao producing countries.
G.S. RAVI PRAKASH
SPEED (Society for People’s Economic & Educational Development)
We are very honoured to be associated with ACE. Our organisation has been associated with ACE since 2010. Over the years, together we have implemented several projects benefiting low-income families and adolescent. ACE has been very supportive of the adolescent girls who used to work as child labourers, as well as their families.
Many people have benefited immensely from ACE projects, and there is a profound sense of gratitude to ACE and its staff for their commitment and sponsorship. ACE and its staff are like family to our organisation. Their guidance and mentoring has been instrumental in the successful implementation of projects and the achievement of project goals.
Nana Antwi Boasiako Brempong
CRADA (Child Research for Action and Development Agency)
It has always been a privilege and honor to work with ACE for the past 8 years since our partnership to eliminate Child labour in the cocoa growing communities began. My experience with ACE has been quite impressive and full of learning process and innovations all through the past years.
ACE has always been a worthy partner in the fight against Child Labour in the Ghanaian community. Before ACE and CRADA Group entered into partnership, CRADA has worked with many other foreign-based NGOs, in managing and implementing different project ideas. While it has been quite good with those NGOs, ACE-Japan has provided us a new paradigm shift on how to manage projects, produce better reports and share experiences or best practices with stakeholders.
Your support helps us strive to fight child labour, and help children all over the world.
Thank you for your interest in supporting the activities of ACE. Your financial contribution will help us continue our mission and solve child labour issues.
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