chapter  1
26 Pages

In Search of Human Rights in Japan

U ntil the 1990s, the human rights records of Asian countries were rarely the focus of attention. The debate about rights issues was mainly to be found at the human end of the spectrum of Cold War conflict which had, at its other extreme, mutually assured nuclear destruction. However, with the collapse of the Soviet empire, the focus of attention shifted rapidly to Asia although the arguments rehearsed by both sides remained remarkably similar. Just as the Soviet Union had argued that its record on civil and political rights needed to be balanced against its ability to feed, clothe and house its population and maintain law and order - something which the USA was allegedly incapable of doing - so Asian governments such as Singapore have argued that their development-oriented policies which aim at eliminating poverty, unemployment and homelessness must have priority over the protection of the rights of individuals.