Children's rights, judicial wrongs | The Japan Times Online
the problem is that children's rights probably have the same character as many other personal rights in Japan: Rather than being rights that bind and can be asserted against the government, they are benefices bestowed on the people by well-meaning judges and other bureaucrats. Rights that on paper seem similar to those enjoyed by people in other countries may undergo a subtle process whereby they are converted from rules government agencies are supposed to follow, into the medium by which bureaucrats tell the people what to do — civil rights often becoming civic duties.
To look at the Justice Ministry's human rights cartoon mascots, Ayumi Ken and Mamoru Ken (puns meaning "advance rights" and "protect rights"), and their posters exhorting the citizenry to "think about the feelings of others," "engender a considerate heart" and "heighten each person's awareness of human rights," one would think that human rights in Japan are a matter of some failing in the psyche of the Japanese people, rather than, for example, failings in the same system that allows Japanese police and prosecutors to detain and question suspects for long periods without access to counsel in order to coerce confessions. This system is under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice — a system that has been repeatedly criticized by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, members of which have questioned whether the Japanese government even understands what some of the human rights agreements it has signed mean. But of course the U.N. must have it wrong: The Japanese government is in the business of telling its citizens to respect human rights, so how could it possibly be infringing them?