Japanese Human Rights Practice Abroad: A Case Study of Exporting Hazardous Industrial Activities
T his paper aims to analyse certain aspects of the overseas human rights practice of contemporary Japan which is now one of the leading actors in the world economic system. The study presented here provides three perspectives. One perspective is of the Japanese human rights records abroad rather than within its own territory. We should be aware of the fact that while Japanese society per se embraces as many intrinsic human rights problems as any other country, its members, individuals or corporate entities are potentially capable of subtly abusing the human rights of citizens in a foreign country. Such fears seem to be reasonable in respect to the increase of foreign direct investment in developing countries. Second, this chapter considers some key features of contemporary Japan. There is a danger that human rights research on Japan relies on an approach which overemphasizes Japan's non-Western character. However, it is also true that contemporary Japan embodies features common to Western countries in certain aspects of its behaviour. The third point to be stressed in this paper is that Japan plays a crucial role in the world economy. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Japan achieved economic prosperity. It might be correct to assume that one of the secrets of this success was the encouragement of foreign direct investment in seeking a reduction of costs by taking advantage of cheap labour and primary resources. The internationalization of business transactions is a symbol of the contemporary world economy.