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

In 2024, the Mansfield Foundation is proud to continue its Next Generation of U.S.-Japan Nuclear Policy Experts training program with a new cohort of ten American and Japanese participants. The program aims to nurture a new generation of nuclear experts who will contribute to the strengthening of U.S.-Japan security relations and grow into leaders and policymakers with a comprehensive understanding of regional nuclear security dynamics.

These emerging experts will participate in virtual gatherings with each other and converse with guest speakers on nuclear history, regional security dynamics, and arms control agreements. In September, the participants will travel to Washington for a week-long training program, meeting nuclear experts from academia and think tanks as well as practionioners from the U.S. government. Later this year, participants will work in groups to prepare a series of policy briefs to add new voices and perspectives to bilateral dialogues on nuclear policy.

Meet the ten participants from our second Cohort below!

Cohort 2

Alyssa Hirai is a graduate student at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service pursuing a master’s degree in Asian Studies with a concentration in politics and security. She obtained her B.S. in International Politics with a concentration in International Security and a minor in Chinese from Georgetown University. She focuses on security issues in the Indo-Pacific, including nuclear policy, economic security, and territorial disputes. Influenced by her experience growing up in both Japan and Hawaii, she is primarily interested in the roles that Japan and the U.S. play in promoting cooperation and deterring threats in the region. She has experience working for the U.S. Congress and a Tokyo-based think tank, and is currently working for a Japanese media company in D.C. where she focuses on relaying U.S. and international news to Tokyo.


Rintaro Inoue is a PhD student at the Graduate School of Law, Keio University, focusing his dissertation on the history of the U.S.-Australia defense relationship. His research areas include  U.S. alliance policy in Asia, Japanese defense and security policy, and Australian defense policy. He holds a Master of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Law from Keio University. Mr. Inoue is a research assistant at the Institute of Geoeconomics (IOG), where he co-authored a policy recommendation report, Comparative Study of Defense Industries: Autonomy, Priority, and Sustainability, and wrote multiple briefing papers on international security issues. He is also a research assistant at the Keio Center for Strategy, focusing on the Japan-U.S.-Australia trilateral defense relationship. He has worked as a consultant at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), co-authoring a forthcoming report, Cross-Domain Operations with Japanese Characteristics. Mr. Inoue has written articles in academic journals and media outlets, such as the Journal of International Security (Japanese), Ships of the World (Japanese), and The Japan Times.


Captain Shaquille James is currently an MS student at Troy University, an active-duty ICBM operator in the U.S. Air Force, and a member of the Language Enabled Airmen Program (LEAP). Before entering active duty, Capt James studied and researched issues relating to China and North Korea with particular emphasis on North Korean human rights. As part of this work, Capt James collaborated extensively with think tanks, human rights organizations, Korean government officials, North Korean defectors, and defector-led organizations. Capt James has also completed multiple scholastic and language study programs in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. In addition to his primary duties, Capt James conducts briefs on East Asian adversaries and nuclear challenges geared towards diplomats, intelligence analysts, embassy personnel and attachés, and other military personnel. Capt James occasionally writes for Air University’s Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs (JIPA) and is an organizer for JIPA’s podcast service. Capt James has a BA in Linguistics from Georgetown University, received a certificate in Asian Studies from the Georgetown Asian Studies department, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Relations from Troy University.


Samuel Leiter is a PhD candidate specializing in Security Studies and International Relations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His dissertation project is titled “Buy or Build? How States Source Military Might.” The project examines how states decide between buying and building their military platforms. He has assisted with wargame design and adjudication for the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. He also worked as a Summer Associate at the RAND Corporation. His writing has been published in The Washington Quarterly and the National Interest.


Yuji Maeda is a research fellow at the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS) in Tokyo, Japan. His areas of interest include international relations theory, international security (especially in the Indo-Pacific region), and U.S.-China relations. His recent publications address questions such as: What implications the nascent U.S.-China bipolarity has on Japan’s national security; how U.S. grand strategy has informed its China policy since the 1990s; and what geopolitical incentives shape the U.S. defense commitment to Taiwan. Previously, he served as Chief of Deterrence Policy at the Strategic Planning Division of Japan’s Ministry of Defense. He graduated from Keio University (B.A. in Laws) and the London School of Economics (MSc in International Relations, with Distinction). He is currently a PhD candidate in the Politics program at the University of Virginia.


Yuki Matsuura is a master’s student in the Department of Advanced Social and International Studies at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo. His research interest lies in the technology to build nuclear weapons and how it’s utilized as a source of international bargaining. He received a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from the University of Tokyo, with an undergraduate thesis on the theoretical foundation of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Yuki is also working on several papers about security issues such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and civil-military atrophy and its concomitant coup risks. Alongside his academic endeavors, he has interned at two foreign policy think tanks in Japan, doing assistant research and logistical arrangements.


Alexandria Molinari is a current MA student in Nonproliferation and Terrorism at Middlebury Institute of International Studies. In 2023, she graduated from the University of Michigan with an MA in International and Regional Studies with a specialization in Japanese Studies. During that time, she studied the role of anti-nuclear protest and hibakusha activism in influencing Japanese foreign and domestic nuclear policy. She is an IAEA Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellow for the 2024-2025 academic year. Her current research interests include postwar Japanese cultural development and U.S.-Japan relations, urban development in response to climate change, climate disasters in East and Southeast Asia, and policy related to nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear energy. She also studies the relationship between communities that have been impacted by nuclear testing, particularly in the Pacific, and their role in advocating for and creating nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation policy. Her current goal is to work in various roles in the nuclear industry to gain a well-rounded perspective and approach to nuclear security policy related to nuclear energy and nuclear nonproliferation. Ultimately, she would like to help write policy that leads to total global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.


Yui Nakama is a PhD candidate in Policy Analysis in the U.S. under the Fulbright scholarship program. Her research focuses on space safety, security and sustainability policy, drawing her background in economics and international politics. As an Okinawan, her general interest lies in U.S.-Japan security relations. Yui is also a Global Fellow at European Space Policy Institute in Vienna, a Summit Assistant at Secure World Foundation in D.C., a Senior Consultant at Euroconsult Japan, and a Space Business Specialist at Green Carbon Inc. in Tokyo. She serves as an observer at the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS). Her multiple publications include The Economics of Space Sustainability: Exploring Policy Options for Space Debris Management from the OECD.

Yui holds an MA in International Public Policy from the University of Tokyo and studied International Security at Sciences Po Paris as part of an exchange program.


Shawn Rostker is a Research Analyst with the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. His research investigates issues of nuclear strategy, arms control, and emerging technologies, with a regional focus on East Asia. Prior to joining the Center, Rostker worked on technology policy and competition at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as well as nuclear deterrence and North Korean weapons development during his time at the Center for Political-Military Analysis. As a Nuclear Risk Reduction Fellow with the Council on Strategic Risks, he worked alongside fellow emerging leaders in the nuclear policy space to devise innovative and politically practical risk reduction measures and ways to reinforce the concepts of nuclear restraint and responsibility. He holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of California, San Diego where he graduated summa cum laude, and is currently a master’s student in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University.


Koki Ueda is a master’s student in the Graduate School of International Relations (GSIR) at Sophia University in Tokyo, focusing on security issues and exhibiting a strong interest in nuclear strategy. His research centers on the evolution of major powers’ nuclear strategies post-Cold War, examining the factors that drive these changes through the lens of nuclear deterrence theory. Beyond his academic endeavors, Koki serves as an officer in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), specializing in surface-to-air missile operations. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the National Defense Academy (NDA) and joined JASDF in 2017. During his tenure, he actively engaged in Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) and Air Defense Combat exercises, including joint military exercises with Japan and the US. Koki’s career has been shaped by a deep concern for the security landscape of the Indo-Pacific region, particularly regarding the threats posed by military build-up and nuclear weapons. His involvement in BMD, notably in response to missile development programs during his time in the Patriot surface-to-air missile Unit, has further fueled his dedication to understanding adversary nuclear strategies. He is committed to enhancing deterrence capabilities through his ongoing research in nuclear strategy.