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Human rights talk and walk: Japan and China in a comparative perspective.

Pat Hein
Philipps-Universität Marburg
Pat Hein
Philipps-Universität Marburg
Open Panel

Abstract

Some Asian nations (such as China) claim that the concept of universal human rights precepts precludes an acceptance of cultural differences and challenge the liberal Western concept of human rights. Surprisingly Asia is the only region in the world which has no established human rights institutions and established regional mechanisms. From a constructivist perspective, Risse et al (1999) and Finnemore (1996; 1998) have argued that liberal, universal norms have a positive impact on domestic changes and assumed that all the states want to follow the liberal Western model. My paper seeks to explore these claims and confront them with the reality. Main argument: It is argued that it is legitimate for non-Western nations to learn from the positive elements contained in Western liberalism. China refuses to rely on liberal thinking and heritage for historical reasons and has been setting up its own anti-liberal counter modernization model whereas Japan has at times taken over the negative aspects of Western liberalism (such as imperialism, nationalism, racism). From a perspective of liberal human rights appreciation, gaps between the West and Asia with regard to values, priorities and normative judgments continue to persist. Topics treated: ? The liberal spiral model normative assumptions proposed by Risse ? The absence of an established regional human rights mechanism ? Exporting the Chinese model: economic development and modernization without liberal human rights? ? Mimicry and emulation of Western human rights talk ? Human rights in foreign policy (trade agreements, development assistance) ? Reflections on the crime of anti-social behavior and social disturbance ? Is Japan only pleasing the world by joining international treaties or is it serious about liberalizing its cultural practices? ? Economic liberalization but restrictive migration policies ? Deficits in the liberal rule of law ? Lack of national redress for human rights violations ? Lack of implementation of international treaties in national law ? The deficits of the Supreme Court ? Deficits of the traditional non-judicial mediation of conflicts ? Human rights in foreign policy: economic assistance without advocacy (human rights clauses)? ? Case study: the case for the death penalty in China and Japan ? Conclusion Applicant profile: Patrick Hein, MA Political Science University of Marburg, post-graduate qualification Capella University, currently doctoral candidate based in Japan. Major publication: How the Japanese became foreign to themselves. The implications of globalization of the private and public spheres, LIT Verlag 2009