We are pleased to share that Professor of Sociology Kiyoteru Tsutsui, the Henri H. and Tomoye Takahashi Professor and Senior Fellow in Japanese Studies at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC), has been honored by the Shinsho Taisho Award for his book, Human Rights and the State: The Power of Ideas and the Realities of International Politics (Iwanami Shinsho, 2022). The award recognizes the best titles in the category of Shinsho books — a popular Japanese format of paperback books on academic topics intended to reach a broader audience — published between December 2021 and November 2022. Tsutsui’s book has been ranked number 9 on the list of best new Shinsho titles out of over 1200 candidates.
The annual Shinsho Taisho Award is sponsored by Japanese publisher Chuokoron Shinsha. Award selections are made by experts with a deep knowledge of new releases, including scholars, booksellers, editors of new books from various companies, and newspaper reporters. The ranking of the top 20 honored titles, including detailed selection notes and reviews, are published in the March 2023 issue of Chuokoron magazine.
Tsutsui’s book explores the paradox underlying the global expansion of human rights, examines Japan’s engagement with human rights ideas and instruments, and assesses their impacts on domestic politics around the world. “This excellent book clarifies the principles of the international order by bringing ‘human rights power’ to the forefront, and makes constructive suggestions on the nature of Japan’s human rights diplomacy,” says one expert review.
For his book, Tsutsui was also recently honored as the recipient of the 2022 Ishibashi Tanzan Award and the 44th Suntory Prize for Arts and Sciences.
In an APARC interview about the book, Tsutsui, who is also director of APARC’s Japan Program, APARC’s deputy director, a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and the co-director of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice, explains the tension inherent in the diffusion of global human rights, which is rooted in states’ embracing these universal rights although they are grounded in principles that constrain their sovereignty. Tsutsui believes that Japan has an opportunity to become a global leader in human rights. “The more inwardly oriented United States is creating a vacuum in promotion and protection of liberal values, especially with China’s influence surging, and Japan should carry the torch taking the mantle of human rights, democracy, and rule of law,” he argues.
Tsutsui’s research interests lie in political and comparative sociology, social movements, globalization, human rights, and Japanese society. His current projects examine issues including changing conceptions of nationhood and minority rights in national constitutions and in practice, populism and the future of democracy, the global expansion of corporate social responsibility, and Japan’s public diplomacy and perceptions of Japan in the world.