Organized Panel Session
How does one work for justice as part of a global human rights project? What kind of justice is served through these efforts? This paper focuses on the visions of justice articulated through recent efforts to fight human trafficking to Japan. Since 2004, the Japanese government has been collaborating with domestic NGOs, international organizations, and other national governments to fight the trafficking of migrant workers into Japan. These efforts are part of a globalized counter-human trafficking project formally established with the 2000 United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. Drawing on interviews with Japanese government officials and Filipina/o caseworkers in Japan, as well as on cables sent by U.S. Embassy staff, the paper contrasts how members of different involved groups discuss the objectives of these projects: Japanese and U.S. American government bureaucrats emphasize modular, technocratic, and prescriptive strategies centering on criminal justice; Filipina/o caseworkers speak of their work in intimate and affective terms, stressing their identification with “victims” and their commitment to building community and changing the status quo. This paper argues for attention to the uneasy relationships between official and unofficial visions of justice in human rights projects. It suggests that the awkward and unequal relationships between those involved mean that the justice rendered through these projects is always elusive.