Forwarded mail....

Cliff Sloane (cesloane@MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU)
Tue, 30 May 1995 23:07:06 -0500

I am re-posting this inquiry to the LIST with permission from the
original poster.
Please make sure to send a copy of any response to Roland, as he does not
subscribe to the LIST.
And please, DON'T send it to me!!!!
---Cliff Sloane

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 30 May 1995 11:21:07 +0900
From: Shun Tomotsune <b9307498@MN.WASEDA.AC.JP>
To: Multiple recipients of list SEASIA-L <>

Dear fellow SEASIA-L readers,

I am a researcher in the department of Area Studies at Tokyo
University. During my year here I will be researching into the
conflict between group-rights and human rights (as defined by
the Universal declaration of Human Rights and, by default, the

If one is willing to generalise it can be said that the West
promotes individualism while the Asians prefer to consider
themselves a small part of the society as a whole, and as
such, the individual is relatively less important. In this case it
seems more appropriate to consider group rights rather than
human rights.

I propose to compare the discourse on cultural relativism and
human rights in several Asian countries, with a view to
identifying the essential elements of a distinctive Asian
approach. I will examine the differences among Asian
countries to attempt to produce a hierarchy of rights, in other
words, which they give priority to, and isolate those dissenting
Asian views which can claim universality.

Especially when one considers developing nations, it has
been argued that they first need a strong (even dictatorial)
leader to put the house in order. This may mean that certain
human rights (civil and political) must come after other human
rights (the right to housing and food) but having then gained a
measure of stability, they will then be able to develop the other
rights as well.

At this stage I have not clearly defined which regions I will
focus on, but Malaysia, which has rapidly gained a reputation
for bucking the system and promoting Asian values will be one
of the main focusses of my research. Burma and Indonesia
have been vocal in their objections to Western *meddling* in
their human rights records, so exactly what these countries
have to say, and whether they have any wider support for their
arguments will be interesting. Also Vietnam, which is often
widely criticised, perhaps disproportionately so when
compared with other, more blatant *offenders* will also be

If anyone has any ideas or comments I would be most grateful
for them. Are there any significant books on cultural relativism
which I should read? Please feel free to send replies directly to
me or to the list.

Many thanks

Roland T Alford

Roland Takeshi Alford
Tel: 03 3942 4514 Fax: 03 3942 4847
Wakeijuku Kita Ryo, 1-21-2 Meijiro-dai, Bunkyo-ku,
112 Tokyo, Japan