Connecting People & Ideas to Advance Mutual Interests in U.S.-Asia Relations

The first cohort of the Mansfield Next Generation of U.S.-Japan Nuclear Policy Experts convened in 2023 to bridge the knowledge gap of nuclear policy that exists not only between the United States and Japan but also within the two countries. In May 2024, their contributions to the bilateral nuclear policy discussion were collected and published in a new volume from the Mansfield Foundation.

Although academic programs focusing on peace studies have been popular in Japan since the end of World War II, programs on the U.S.-Japan alliance and security studies have only started to grow in the past fifteen years. Nuclear experts are especially difficult to raise in Japan, as nuclear weapons are still a controversial topic, and Japanese academia remains sharply divided between those who advocate for disarmament and those who emphasize deterrence. In the United States, academic programs on nuclear issues tend to focus on Cold War politics and U.S. nuclear doctrine.

This Mansfield program aims to address this lack of training and human capital in Japan and the risk of lack of Asia experts in the United States.  Thanks to generous funding from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the program offered eight graduate students from Japan the opportunity to engage in discussions on nuclear issues with six U.S.-based peers.

The cohort met with distinguished guest speakers and conducted a range of interactive discussions virtually. In September 2023, the Foundation conducted a seven-day in-person training in Washington, D.C., where participants had the opportunity to engage in discussions on nuclear issues with academics, think tank
researchers, and former and current government officials (both civilian and military) from Japan and the United States.

During the week-long training, the participants also gave group presentations on a topic of their choice. After forming binational teams in April 2023, the participants collaborated for several months and co-authored the contributions collected in this volume. This volume not only tackles the pressing security issues the region is currently grappling with, but also underscores how crucial it is to strengthen the U.S.-Japan relationship