The Cost of “Normalcy”: Updating Japan’s National Security

The Cost of "Normalcy": Updating Japan’s National Security

Richard J. Samuels - Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director, MIT Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Friday, March 31, 2023 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
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Room 101 (Auditorium), Henry R. Luce Hall See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Lecture will take place from 4:30pm to 6:00pm, followed by a reception from 6pm to 7pm at the Provost House (33 Hillhouse) across from Luce Hall

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.


The John W. Hall Lecture Series in Japanese Studies was established with generous support from Mrs. Robin Hall in memory of her husband.  Considered one of this past century’s finest scholars of the history of Japan, John Whitney Hall was born in Tokyo in 1916 and developed an interest in Japanese language, culture, and history at an early age. After receiving his Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Harvard, Hall began his academic career at the University of Michigan in 1949 and came to Yale in 1961 as A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History, a position he held until his retirement in 1983.

Professor Hall specialized in the Ashikaga through Late Tokugawa periods, and throughout his career he wrote or edited some of the most important and influential volumes on Japanese history. He contributed to the study of Japan through not only his writing, but also through service as chair of several local and national committees, including the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, the Association for Asian Studies, and the American Council of Learned Societies-Social Science Research Council (ACLS-SSRC) Joint Committee on Japanese Studies. The Council on East Asian Studies hopes this lecture series will enable young and old scholars alike to remember John Whitney Hall’s work and grand contributions to the study of Japan.

Region: 
Japan