Award Number: L32453037
Award Holder: Ian Neary
Period of Report: 1 January 1997 - 31 December 1997
Institution: University of Essex
Amount of Award: £40,820 (£42,863)
Aims and Methods of Research
The aims of the research are to investigate the way human rights are talked
about and are implemented in three Asian states and to contribute to the
general understanding of what human rights might mean in a 'non-western'
context. The methods used have been mainly a review of the literature and
interviews with academics and activists with an interest in this field.
During the year being reported on the ESRC grant enabled me to spend the
summer, from June 25 until October 11 in East Asia doing a second period of
field work and bought me out of my teaching responsibilities. This autumn
term I have been able to spend most of my time reading materials obtained
in East Asia during the summer.
Highlights of the Research and Important Findings
During the first part of the year I spent a considerable amount of time
working out a framework which would guide both my thinking about the
emergence of rights ideas in East Asia which will also serve as the first
chapter of the monograph that I expect will result from this research.
This formed the basis of a number of talks that I gave in the UK in the
first half of the year and in three locations in Asia during the summer.
The comments and criticism that paper has received have been important in
developing my thinking about this complex topic. This paper has been
accepted for publication by the Nissan Institute, Oxford University in its
'The Civil Liberties Commissioners system and the protection of human
rights in Japan,' Japan Forum 9(2) 1997:217-232.
'Studying Human Rights in Japan,' Himeji International Forum of Law and
Politics, No 3 1997, pp 175-195.
Papers in preparation
'Political Culture and Human Rights in Japan and East Asia' accepted for
publication in early 1998 in the Nissan Occasional Series.
'A Partial but Annotated List of Human Rights Groups in East Asia' due to
be published in the Research in Progress Papers, Department of Government,
Engagement with Potential Research Users
Meetings with human rights activists in Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
I have also a draft of an annotated list of the human rights organisations
that I have encountered in Japan, Korea and Taiwan that I intend to publish
in the Department of Government's research in progress series early in
The first year of the project was spent in Japan funded partly by the Japan
Foundation and partly by the ESRC. My base there was Kyushu University and
I was able to make two visits each to Taiwan and South Korea. In year two
I was based in the UK mainly working through the material obtained in East
Asia and the English language material about 'rights'. This is, then, the
third year of the research project which mainly funded field work in East
Asia and time to devote to the project in the autumn term. The main aim of
this year was to prepare for the second visit to Japan, Korea and Taiwan in
order to gather data to supplement that obtained during visits in 1995 and
thus give the study a dynamic dimension.
During the first half of the year the main academic aim was to develop an
overall framework for the study that would structure the case studies and
how I set about the fieldwork for the case studies. These rather tentative
ideas I developed in a series of papers that I presented to different
audiences both in the UK and Japan and they will provide the framework for
During the summer of 1997 I was once again based in the Department of Law,
Kyushu University from where I travelled to Osaka, Seoul and Tokyo to meet
with academics, lawyers and activists. On my return journey to the UK I
visited Taipei and spent ten days there gathering data and carrying out
interviews. Since then I have been working through this data and begun the
task of writing the sections of the first draft. I expect to have a first
draft ready by the end of March and the final version prepared by the end
of September 1998.
Fieldwork in 1997 confirmed the earlier impression that the idea that
children or patients have rights, though quite common in Japan is rarely
heard or understood outside a limited academic or legal community in Korea
and Taiwan. This will make the final study rather less equally balanced
between the three countries. However there is a lot of material about
Japan which I am confident will form the basis of a substantial final