Why does Japan downplay human rights in Southeast Asia?

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Japan makes little effort to promote human rights in Southeast Asia, although it sees itself as an advanced industrialized democracy. In comparison with the United States and the European Union (EU), Tokyo's approach is less intrusive and coercive, and more tolerant and accommodative. What can be described as the economic-interest explanation holds that Japan takes a non-intrusive approach in order to maintain favorable relations with the Southeast Asian countries, so as to maximize its interests in the areas of trade and investment, and official development assistance (ODA). The present study finds that this line of argument is insufficient, and thus puts forward an alternative explanation. The identity explanation holds that Japan has been sympathetic to the special concern of the Southeast Asian countries over state sovereignty, and thus takes a non-intrusive approach. This is because while Japan sees itself as an advanced industrialized democracy it also identifies itself as an Asian country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-267
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Relations of the Asia-Pacific
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Aug


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