Japan’s Foreign Policy Options in the Changing Asia-Pacific

Panel Discussion


Dr. Shinichi Kitaoka, President, Japan International Cooperation Agency
Susan A. Thornton, Former US Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Date and Time

October 13, 2020 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM


RSVP Required.


Via Zoom Webinar.

Registration Link: https://bit.ly/3n4NMpJ

This event is being held virtually via Zoom. Please register for the webinar via the below link.

Registration Link: https://bit.ly/3n4NMpJ


This event is part of the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center's Shifting Geopolitics and U.S.-Asia Relations webinar series.
For Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, foreign policy might pose a most significant challenge as he faces a shifting geopolitical landscape with a more assertive China, an emboldened North Korea, an ever more ambivalent South Korea, and a seemingly less committed US in the region. In this international environment, what foreign policy options does Japan have and what can we expect from the Suga administration? To answer these questions, panelists Shinichi Kitaoka, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and Susan Thornton, former US assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, will discuss key diplomatic challenges for Japan including its management of the US-China-Japan trilateral relations, its handling of important neighboring countries such as North and South Korea and Russia, its larger strategies in the Indo-Pacific region, and its engagement with global institutions. This event will be moderated by Japan Program Director Kiyoteru Tsutsui.


Headshot of Shinichi KitaokaDr. Shinichi Kitaoka is President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Before assuming the present post, he was President of the International University of Japan. Dr. Kitaoka’s career includes Professor of National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) (2012-), Professor ofGraduateSchools for Law and Politics, the University of Tokyo(1997-2004, 2006-2012), Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Deputy Permanent Representativeof Japan to the United Nations (2004-2006), Professor of College of Law and Politics, Rikkyo University (1985-1997). Dr. Kitaoka’s specialty is modern Japanese politics and diplomacy. He obtained his B.A. (1971) and his Ph.D. (1976) both from the University of Tokyo. He is Emeritus Professor of the University of Tokyo. He has numerous books and articles in Japanese and English including A Political History of Modern Japan: Foreign Relations and Domestic Politics (Tokyo: Yuhikaku,2011), Political Dynamics of the United Nations: Where Does Japan Stand? (Tokyo: Chuokoron-Shinsha, 2007) and Japan as a Global Player (Tokyo: NTT Publishing, 2010). He received many honors and awards including the Medal with Purple Ribbon for his academic achievements in 2011.


Headshot of Susan ThorntonSusan A. Thornton is a retired senior U.S. diplomat with almost 30 years of experience with the U.S. State Department in Eurasia and East Asia. She is currently a Senior Fellow and Research Scholar at the Yale University Law School Paul Tsai China Center, Director of the Forum on Asia-Pacific Security at the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Until July 2018, Thornton was Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State and led East Asia policy making amid crises with North Korea, escalating trade tensions with China, and a fast-changing international environment. In previous State Department roles, she worked on U.S. policy toward China, Korea and the former Soviet Union and served in leadership positions at U.S. embassies in Central Asia, Russia, the Caucasus and China. Thornton received her MA in International Relations from Johns Hopkins SAIS and her BA from Bowdoin College in Economics and Russian. She serves on several non-profit boards and speaks Mandarin and Russian.

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