Global Good Samaritans: Human Rights as Foreign Policy

By Alison Brysk | Go to book overview

7
Peace without Justice

Japan

Human security as a human-centered approach to global issues is close
to Japanese thinking. We learned from the loss of the war that military
approaches don’t solve global problems, and that military means lead to
the destruction of the state
.

—Japan’s ambassador for human security, April 2006

In the generation of globalization, Japan has moved from being a politically passive trading state to a major proponent of humanitarian internationalism, as an expansion of postwar peace policies. Japan initially appears as a missing case for several generations, in which the most developed, most democratic, and most globalized state in a region avoided engaging in principled internationalism. However, Japan also shows the recent emergence of efforts to enter new multilateral arenas, reframe nascent democratizing and humanitarian programs through the lens of “human security,” and serve as a bridge between regional reluctance to address human rights and the Western/Northern liberal consensus. In November 2006, Foreign Minister Taro Aso announced the furthest extension of these efforts in a new, “value-oriented” foreign policy:

We are aiming to add a new pillar upon which our policy will revolve. First
of all there is “value oriented diplomacy,” which involves placing emphasis
on the “universal values” such as democracy, freedom, human rights, the
rule of law, and the market economy as we advance our diplomatic endeav-
ors. And second, there are the successfully budding democracies that line
the outer rim of the Eurasian continent, forming an arc. Here Japan wants
to design an “arc of freedom and prosperity.” Indeed, I believe that we must
create just such an arc. (Aso 2006)

The brief and controversial leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2006–2007) was associated with rising nationalism, denials of historic abuse, and regional resentment. Yet recent administrations have also increased their association with the democratizing global agenda, and explicitly linked the promotion of liberal values to global citizenship and participation. In early 2007, the prime minister associated global values with Japanese interests: “Abe said he hopes to strengthen ties with countries

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