SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

Abe’s Japan, Strategic Options and the Korean nuclear crisis

John Nilsson-Wright
John Nilsson-Wright

Date: 25 April 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 25 April 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: Seminar


In the wake of two nuclear tests in 2016, an additional test in 2017 and a series of missile launches by North Korea in 2016-17, Japan’s government is facing a critical set of security challenges. These require adaptation and careful planning by the Abe administration and raise important questions about the future of Japanese defence policy, alliance relations with the United States, and cooperation between Japan and the Republic of Korea. The talk will consider both the history and current state of relations between Tokyo, Washington and Seoul, the relationship between elite and public opinion within Japan, and the character of Prime Minister Abe’s leadership at a time of acute strategic (and domestic political) risk. While the danger of conflict in northeast Asia should not be minimized, the gravity of the current crisis potentially offers an important opportunity for policy innovation for the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Speaker Biography

John Nilsson-Wright (formerly Swenson-Wright) is senior research fellow for Northeast Asia with the Asia Programme at Chatham House, senior university lecturer in Japanese Politics and International Relations at Cambridge University and an official fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge.

He was head of the Chatham House Asia Programme from March 2014 until October 2016 and is a graduate of Christ Church, Oxford; SAIS, Johns Hopkins; and St. Antony’s College, Oxford.

His research focuses on Cold War history and the contemporary international relations of Northeast Asia, with particular reference to Japan and the Koreas. He is the author and editor of a number of books including Unequal Allies? United States Security and Alliance Policy Toward Japan 1945-1960 (Stanford University Press, 2004); Crisis of Peace and New Leadership in Korea: Lessons of Kim Dae-jung’s Legacies (Seoul: Yonsei University Press, 2014), and The Politics and International Relations of Modern Korea (Routledge, 2016). 

His recent articles include Nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula: strategic adaptation, the Abe Administration and extended deterrence in the face of uncertainty, Japan Forum (2018) and Creative Minilateralism in a Changing Asia: Opportunities for Security Convergence and Cooperation between Australia, India, and Japan, Chatham House (2017). 

He has been a visiting fellow at Tohoku University, Yonsei University and Seoul National University, a member of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Agenda Council (GAC) on Korea and is a director of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group. He comments regularly for the global media, has testified on East Asian affairs to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees, is a member of the editorial board of Global Asia and is a founding member of the European Japan Advanced Research Network (EJARN).

Organiser: SOAS Japan Research Centre

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