The concept of human rights is recognized as having universal value in the world, of course including almost all countries in East Asia. Nevertheless, we should not forget that the concept of (natural) rights is a Western and modern product. There was no exact Japanese equivalent for the English word »rights«. It was not until the 1860s that the Japanese word »kenri (権利)« was invented as a neologism. The idea of »rights« was so difficult to translate into Asian languages, that a translational gap emerged.
Masahiro Noguchi focuses on the translational gap of »rights«. His presentation begins with a passage from David Nelken: »the Japanese ideogram for the new concept of ›rights‹ came to settle on a sign associated with ›self interest‹ rather than morality.« Where does the bias come from? In the first part of his talk, Noguchi traces the process of how the European word »rights« was transplanted into Chinese and Japanese, referring to Georg Jellinek’s study on the religious origin of the concept of human rights.