Ryan Mitchell, Yale University, has published Legal Activism and Rights Consciousness in a 'Puppet State': Law in Manchukuo's Civil Resistance, 1931-1945. Here is the abstract.
Though a crucial element in Japan’s gradual early 20th century military and economic encroachment on China, the “puppet state” of Manchukuo was also paradoxically characterized by a high degree of legitimizing legal rhetoric. While its political realities generally failed to reflect these idealized foundations, in some capacities the regime actually did provide significant space for legal and other forms of civil society resistance, including by Chinese legal professionals. In order to better understand the early reception of Western, rights-based concepts of law’s social function in East Asia, then, Manchukuo is a valuable subject of study. As this Article shows, there is evidence of at least germinal development of a kind of rights-oriented legal activism that, in the Chinese context, is often viewed as first emerging only in the late-20th century Reform Era.Download the article from SSRN at the link.