Rights Make Might: Global Human Rights and Minority Social Movements in Japan

ISBN : 9780190853112

Kiyoteru Tsutsui
304 ページ
156 x 235 mm

Winner of The 2019 Section on Sociology of Human Rights' Gordon Hirabayashi Human Rights Book Award​

  • Explores the impact of global human rights on local politics
  • Looks at the future of the international human rights regime in the context of a changing international political landscape
  • Gives insight into the histories of minority groups still relatively unknown outside Japan

Since the late 1970s, the three most salient minority groups in Japan - the politically dormant Ainu, the active but unsuccessful Koreans, and the former outcaste group of Burakumin - have all expanded their activism despite the unfavorable domestic political environment. In Rights Make Might, Kiyoteru Tsutsui examines why, and finds an answer in the galvanizing effects of global human rights on local social movements. Tsutsui chronicles the transformative impact of global human rights ideas and institutions on minority activists, which changed their understandings about their standing in Japanese society and propelled them to new international venues for political claim making. The global forces also changed the public perception and political calculus in Japan over time, catalyzing substantial gains for their movements. Having benefited from global human rights, all three groups repaid their debt by contributing to the consolidation and expansion of human rights principles and instruments outside of Japan. Drawing on interviews and archival data, Rights Make Might offers a rich historical comparative analysis of the relationship between international human rights and local politics that contributes to our understanding of international norms and institutions, social movements, human rights, ethnoracial politics, and Japanese society.


Chapter I: Introduction
Chapter II: Ainu: From a Dying Race to an Indigenous People
Chapter III: Zainichi (Korean Residents in Japan): From Citizenship Rights to Universal Human Rights
Chapter IV: Burakumin: From a Japanese Minority Group to an International Human Rights Organization
Chapter V: Conclusion
A note on transliteration 


Kiyoteru Tsutsui is Professor of Sociology, Director of the Center for Japanese Studies, and Director of the Donia Human Rights Center at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

  • Winner of the 2019 Section on Sociology of Human Rights' Gordon Hirabayashi Human Rights Book Award 
  • Winner of the 2019 Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award from the American Sociological Association section on Political Sociology 
  • Winner of the 2019 Most Outstanding Asia/Transnational Book Award from the American Sociological Association section on Asia and Asian America


"Highly Recommended." -- CHOICE