The Council on East Asian Studies presents
Richard J. Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director, MIT Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
“The Cost of “Normalcy”: Updating Japan’s National Security.”
It has become clear to Japanese leaders and to the Japanese public that the balance of power in Northeast Asia has shifted dramatically now that China has risen, and North Korea has become a nuclear weapons state. These developments, combined with the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine—with apparent Chinese approval—in 2022, have led many Japanese to question the staying power of the United States in Asia. In short, Japan’s external threat environment has become more severe.
Japanese politicians for whom discussion of national security had once been a third rail, now run on (and win with) platforms to increase defense spending. Late last year the Kishida Cabinet issued important updates to Japan’s national security doctrine and force posture stipulating strengthened security ties to the United States while also hedging against Washington’s decline. Richard Samuels, the author of award-winning monographs on Japanese national security, will explore these developments and open a larger conversation about what all this portends for the study and practice of Japan as a “normal nation.”
Richard J. Samuels is Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2005 he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2011 he received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, an Imperial decoration awarded by the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese Prime Minister. In 2015 he was named an Albert Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Free University of Berlin. His books have won prizes from the American Political Science Association, the Association of American University Presses, the Society for Italian Historical Studies, and in 1996 his study Rich Nation, Strong Army won the John Whitney Hall Prize of the Association of Asian Studies.