Human Rights, NGOs, and Foreign Policy: Case Studies of Japanese Foreign Policy Toward Indonesia and Myanmar and Efforts of Human Rights NGOs

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Virginia Tech

One of the elements that have often been neglected in the study of foreign policy is the role of norms and ideas. While human rights standards were formalized and became to be recognized as an international norm, it is still not clear whether or how human rights affect the foreign policy of specific states. In the case of Japan, its foreign policy is often characterized by hesitance to take decisive action for human rights and its dictation by economic interest. In this paper the influnece of human rights on Japanese foreign policy is examined through the study of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Japanese politics, as new political actors that speak for the norm of international human rights in Japanese politics. Japanese NGOs have achieved a dramatic development in the 1980s and 1990s, and today they are recognized as important entities in Japanese society. NGOs adopt various strategies and tactics to influnence Japan s decision making in foreign policy to challenge the political environment that consists of Japan s hesitance in the area of human rights and the strong influence of the business sector. Case studies examine active NGOs networks in Japan that work for human rights and democracy in East Timor and Burma and include an in-depth analysis of their operation styles, foci, and organizations.

civil movements, NGOs, human rights, Japanese foreign policy