Implementation of Human Rights: Japan, Taiwan and Korea

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

Occasional Series.




'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,

Essex University.


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



Detailed Progress


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

the monograph.


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