Letter from the Director

August 20, 2021

Dear Friends,

I hope you have had a pleasant summer even as we continue to face difficult times with the ongoing pandemic. At Harvard, we are excited to greet a new academic year with the return of students to campus and in-person learning.  I am writing to offer a brief preview of the year ahead for the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations and invite you to join us to share ideas and learn from each other.

We have seen in the past year that remote events can provide a meaningful format for intellectual exchange with more accessibility for a broad audience. Given continued concerns about the spread of Covid-19 and following university guidelines, we will hold our weekly seminar series online this fall on Mondays during 12:00-1:00 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time, with occasional seminars held during 8:00-9:00 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time to adjust for speakers based in Japan and Asia. Our exciting lineup of speakers will kick off with T.J. Pempel (University of California, Berkeley) presenting his new book on Asia-Pacific regionalism on September 13, with commentary from HBS professor Meg Rithmire. We also feature two talks on digital governance with Ulrike Schaede (University of California, San Diego), speaking on digital transformation and Japanese business, and Miho Matsubara (NTT) focusing on cyber-security cooperation in the U.S.-Japan alliance. We will learn about Japan’s approach to handling the Covid-19 pandemic from one of the leading experts in Japan, Kenji Shibuya (University of Tokyo). Izumi Nakamitsu (UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs) will lead a discussion of strategies for security cooperation. Celeste Arrington (George Washington University) will share with us her latest research on activism and legalistic policy solutions in Japan and Korea.  After the upcoming House of Representatives election, Dan Smith (Columbia University) will join a panel to discuss its results and consequences. And that is only the first two months! We have much more ahead on the calendar.

This year we launch a new project, “Policy Innovations in Crises: New Pathways for Japan-U.S. Cooperation,” with generous support from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP). The project includes a teaching component along with research collaboration. Another project focused on digital governance will sponsor a series of seminars, workshops, and conferences. In a joint endeavor with several partner universities, the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (JPOSS) will enter its second year promoting discussion among political scientists dedicated to the study of Japan. We are grateful to the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies for generous support and look forward to another year working together to expand activities about Japan at Harvard.

During the 2021-22 academic year, we will host 21 affiliates—3 Postdoctoral Fellows, 6 Academic Associates, and 12 professional Associates. It is an impressive group of individuals with a diverse array of expertise to share about Japanese economy, history, politics, society, and foreign affairs. We value the contributions of our Faculty Associates, and continue to expand our faculty outreach at Harvard and beyond. As we return to campus, we will explore new ways to enhance support for graduate and undergraduate students on research, teaching, and summer internships. The Program staff look forward to creating a collaborative environment in which Program affiliates, faculty, and students can do their best work. We also encourage you to use the Program’s Alumni Directory, searchable by name, year, and institution, as well as read about the exciting new research by current and former affiliates on our publications webpage.

For updates, please check our websiteTwitter, and Facebook. Please subscribe to our SoundCloud and YouTube to listen to and view our past seminars. I welcome your ideas on how we can serve our global community, and encourage you to write to me and the Program staff. We want to hear from you about your activities and hope to see you at our events.



Christina L. Davis
Director, Program on U.S.-Japan Relations; Professor of Government; and Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University