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), is the recipient of the 2022 Ishibashi Tanzan Award for his book Human Rights and the State: The Power of Ideas and the Realities of International Politics (Iwanami Shinsho, 2022).
Established in 1980 and presented by the Ishibashi Tanzan Memorial Foundation, the annual award recognizes excellence in the fields of politics, economics, international relations, society, and culture. It honors individuals who have contributed to advancing the legacy of former Japanese Prime Minister Ishibashi Tanzan and his ideas on liberalism, democracy, and international peace. 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.
“I’m deeply honored to receive this prestigious award, especially in this historical moment in which commitment to the international liberal order is ever more critical,” says 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. “Among all the Japanese Prime Ministers in history, no one demonstrated a more unwavering commitment to liberalism than Ishibashi Tanzan, and I’m especially pleased that my book on global human rights has received this recognition bearing his name. There’s also a personal connection for me, as my father is the author of the first social science book on Ishibashi Tanzan and I helped with his research as a middle school student, making copies of relevant newspapers.”
In an APARC interview about the book, Tsutsui 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. “The end of the Cold War enabled the United Nations to engage in human rights activities free from Cold War constraints, and now those states that committed to human rights without thinking about the consequences have to face a world in which their violations can become a real liability for them,” he notes.
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.