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 44th Suntory Prize for Arts and Sciences for his book Human Rights and the State: The Power of Ideas and the Realities of International Politics (Iwanami Shinsho, 2022).
Established in 1979 and presented by the Suntory Foundation, the annual prize honors individuals who have made original, outstanding contributions to research or criticism through publications that adopt a broad perspective on society and culture. The prize is awarded in four categories: Political Science and Economics, Literary and Art Criticism, Life and Society, and History and Civilization. Tsutsui’s book, a winner in the latter category, 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.
"The Suntory Foundation is arguably the most influential foundation for scholars in social sciences and humanities in Japan," 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. "In the United States, there are multiple such foundations (e.g. McArthur, Mellon, Sloan, Guggenheim, and Rockefeller) but in Japan, one is hard pressed to find a competition to Suntory’s resources and history. I’m deeply honored to join the ranks of leading social scientists who have received this award in the past half-century and am inspired to further advance research on global human rights and liberal international order in a world that faces serious authoritarian challenges both in our own societies and globally."
Tsutsui was also recently honored as the recipient of the 2022 Ishibashi Tanzan Award for his book.
Yuichi Hosoya of Keio University writes in his book review that "this is a must-read book not only for providing an overview of the history of the development of international human rights but also for considering the future direction of the international community and the ideal form of Japanese diplomacy."
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.
Tsutsui's book award has been covered in multiple Japanese media outlets: