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

Meet the Next Generation of U.S.-Japan Nuclear Policy Experts

Launched in 2023, the Next Generation of U.S.-Japan Nuclear Policy Experts is composed of 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 include graduate and doctoral students from both countries, bringing diverse interests and perspectives to a vital and ongoing policy issue.

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.

 

Cohort 1

Alice Dell’Era is a Ph.D. Candidate in International Relations at the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs at Florida International University. As part of her dissertation, she is researching Japan’s contributions to its alliance with the United States, specifically examining how Tokyo sustains this alliance’s objectives through its pursuit of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific discourse.

Alice is also a Research Fellow at the Center for Geopolitical Studies “Geopolitica.info,” an Italian think tank that closely collaborates with research centers at the University of Roma La Sapienza. As a member of the China and Indo-Pacific Desk, she has written about the U.S. alliance network, U.S.-Japan relations, Japan-Italy relations, NATO’s perspective on Asia, and the broader security dynamics of the Indo-Pacific region. Alice is also part of the Spring 2022 Cohort of the Pacific Forum Young Leaders Program.

Alice holds a BA in Foreign Languages and Literatures from the University of Bergamo, an MA in Modern Languages for Communication and International Cooperation from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, and an MA in International Studies from Florida International University.

 

Samanvya Hooda is a Security Studies M.A. student at Georgetown University, and a graduate research assistant to Dr. Keir Lieber and Dr. Caitlin Talmadge. He is also a Defense Analysis Research Assistant at the Center for Security and Emerging Technology, and a 2023 CSIS Nuclear Scholar. Prior to his studies at Georgetown, he worked at the Institute of Chinese Studies in New Delhi, researching conventional deterrence, China’s military, and the China-India-Pakistan nuclear triangle. Samanvya received a B.A. in International Relations with a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies from the Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, India. His research interests lie in escalation dynamics, nuclear trilemmas, emerging technologies, and Indo-Pacific security.

 

Alden “Eli” Horton is a Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies graduate student at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey (MIIS) and a Graduate Research Assistant at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). At CNS, Eli supports the center’s educational training, events, and programs that introduce nuclear nonproliferation and security topics to high school and undergraduate students in the U.S., Russia, and Japan. At MIIS, Eli is a Conflict Transformation Cohort Fellow with the Davis Collaborative in Conflict Transformation where he conducts research on U.S.-Russia arms control efforts in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Eli’s interest in U.S.-Japan nuclear policy began when he met a group of hibakusha (Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors) and heard them advocate for nuclear disarmament. These testimonies stimulated his interest in U.S.-Japan diplomacy as he began exploring the U.S.-Japan security relationship and the cornerstone of this correspondence, the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. His other areas of interest in nuclear security include nonproliferation policy and diplomacy, strategic arms control, and strategic export controls.

 

Miho Kawamoto was born in Hiroshima and is passionate about becoming an expert in the fields of nuclear security and non-proliferation. During her time abroad in the U.S. as a high school exchange student, she was astonished to find that she was the only student in the American History class who believed that using the atomic bomb against Japan during World War II was not justified. She became aware that such a difference might have arisen from the fact that she knew the stories of atomic bomb survivors, while her American classmates did not. Such divergent views resulted in further developing her interest in nuclear deterrence. Her curiosity in this topic drove her to focus on international politics and security issues surrounding nuclear weapons during her undergraduate studies. After graduating with a Bachelor of Law and International Politics, she enrolled into Hitotsubashi University’s Graduate School of International and Public Policy to increase her knowledge, and to pursue her dream of becoming a policy expert.

 

Ryo Kiridori is a research fellow at the National Institute for Defense Studies (NIDS), a Tokyo-based think tank affiliated with Japan’s Ministry of Defense, which he joined in 2016. He is also in the political science PhD program in at the University of Toronto, with a focus on international relations and comparative politics. His research interests include foreign policy analysis, alliance politics, and international politics of the Indo-Pacific. From 2018 to 2019, Ryo was cross appointed to the Defense Policy Division and Strategic Planning Division in the Bureau of Defense Policy where he engaged in drafting Japan’s mid-to-long-term defense strategy called National Defense Program Guidelines as well as in various policy-level strategic dialogues, including the Japan-US Extended Deterrence Dialogue. At NIDS, he specializes in US and Japanese defense strategies, on which he has written several book chapters, articles, and commentaries. He holds a BA in political science from the University of New Brunswick, where he was awarded the Richard B. Hatfield Prize in Political Science for the highest academic average, and an MSc in international relations from London School of Economics and Political Science.

 

Hiroko Kurosaki is a first-year graduate student at Nagasaki University. Hiroko is currently studying the stories of Japanese American A-bomb survivors (Hibakusha) for her senior thesis as part of the Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Course Group. Hiroko’s strong interest in nuclear issues stems from her upbringing in Nagasaki. She has developed a particular interest in the history of A-bomb related issues and nuclear weapons dynamics. Hiroko graduated from the University of the Ryukyus (Okinawa) in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in English and American Literature. Through works of literature, she enthusiastically learned about the history of Japanese Americans during WWII. Hiroko aspires to be a journalist who works with people from various backgrounds.

 

Nahoko Miki, an MPP candidate at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Public Policy, is a Japanese student whose research interests are security policy and strategic communication. She is interested in East Asia’s nuclear security dynamics, and the role of the U.S.-Japan security alliance in the geopolitical stability of that region. She researches the dilemma between nuclear deterrence and nuclear disarmament. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences and Economics from a dual degree program between Sciences Po Paris (at the Euro-Asian campus in Le Havre) and Keio University. She has experience as a communication and marketing intern at the Japan office of two global companies, where she gained analytics and project management skills.

 

 

Takanobu Sato is a PhD candidate at Waseda University. His research interests focus on governance mechanisms of science, technology and innovation initiatives, especially, in the context of international security. His expertise includes international export control regimes, and correlated national policy. He has conducted policy and technology research to enhance efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, conventional weapons, and related materials and technology. Most recently, he has been involved in policy research on industrial and technological cooperation as an expert at the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation. His research aims to accelerate the understandings of the needs and advantages of both the Japanese public sector and industry in order to intensify defense and technological cooperation. At an earlier stage of his career, he worked as a consultant providing advisory to public and private sector on a variety of issues, including defense industry and technology, cyber security, security export control and supply chain. He has presented at major international conferences and published several articles in Japan.

 

Sayaka Shingu is a doctoral candidate of Hitotsubashi University and an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan since 2010. As Assistant Director at the Arms Control and Disarmament Division, she contributed to developing Japan’s position on arms control and nonproliferation affairs, including the INF Treaty, New START, the future of arms control, and the 10th NPT Review Conference. She is currently writing a dissertation on the influences of China and Japan on the U.S. decisions during the INF Treaty negotiations, aiming to provide a different perspective from the traditional arguments centered on the United States, Russia and NATO views. She presented her doctoral research at a capstone conference of the CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues in 2022, and has publications in Nonproliferation Review and Bombshelltoe. She was an intern of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs in 2013, a 2020-2022 fellow of the Japan-US partnership program at the Research Institute for Peace and Security, and a 2021-2022 fellow of the Arms Control Negotiation Academy. Sayaka holds a M.A. in Non-proliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and B.A. in Law and Politics at University of Tokyo.

 

Jordan Smith is a master’s student at American University in Washington, D.C. specializing in U.S. foreign policy and nuclear security. She currently works for the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, where she researches issues such as why Afghanistan’s government collapsed in 2021. However, her passions lie in studying the politics of nuclear weapons. She has previous experience at the U.S. Department of State in the Office of Counterproliferation Initiatives, where she worked on sanctions packages against entities of concern during the beginning of Russia’s war in Ukraine. In the summer of 2022 she took a course with Brookhaven National Laboratory on safeguarding nuclear materials, and during her undergraduate studies she wrote a thesis on the psychology of a leader’s decision to use nuclear weapons. In 2023, she will begin a one-year term with the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration as an NGFP Fellow.

 

Jayden Thomas is originally from Kentucky and received his BA in political science and international affairs from Western Kentucky University in 2021. He is currently a graduate student at George Washington University where he is pursuing an MA in Asian Studies with a focus on Japan and international security. He is a two-time alumnus of the Critical Language Scholarship Japanese program (2019, 2021) and a Gilman Alumnus. He studied abroad at Kansai Gaidai University and was a public affairs intern with the U.S. Consulate in Naha, Okinawa.

 

Hiroki Watanabe is a Ph.D. student in the School of Social and Human Sciences at Tokyo Institute of Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a Master of Arts degree from Tokyo Institute of Technology.  Prior to starting his master’s degree program, he had an internship experience at the Mansfield Foundation’s Tokyo Office, where he had assisted and worked together with the Mansfield Staff. By drawing upon archival sources of both U.S. and Japanese government agencies, he conducts empirical research on the development of U.S.-Japan alliance. He is highly interested in the defense policies of Japan and the United States during the Cold War, particularly in the 1970s. He completed his master’s thesis by analyzing the U.S. Navy’s readjustment of its base realignment plan in the Western Pacific, which culminated in the cancellation of the planned reversion of Yokosuka Naval Base to Japan in 1971.  He is also a member of the Tokyo Tech-Tsinghua University Joint Graduate Program. In this dual-degree program, he focuses on the trilateral relations of Japan, the United States, and China as well as China-related contemporary issues, such as the Belt and Road Initiative.

 

Lily Wojtowicz is a Ph.D. Candidate at American University in the School for International Service’s department of International Relations and the Janne E. Nolan Nuclear Security Fellow at the Truman Center. Her dissertation, “Extended Nuclear Deterrence: How Allies Assess Credibility During Crises,” explores how nuclear states assess their reliance on another’s nuclear arsenal during crises of confidence. She received an M.A. in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a B.A. in International Relations from Beloit College. Wojtowicz has previously worked for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Brookhaven National Laboratory, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, and the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

 

Koichi Yoneda is a Ph. D. student studying international relations and security studies at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo. His areas of interest are maritime strategy, defense cooperation, and security affairs in the Indo-Pacific region. His research focus is on security frameworks in South East Asia. He is a serving officer in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and is currently working as an instructor/researcher at the JMSDF Command and Staff College. Koichi is a graduate of the National Defense Academy (NDA) and holds a bachelor’s degree in science, and a master’s degree in Policy Studies from GRIPS. Koichi joined the JMSDF in 2007 after graduating from the NDA and is a helicopter pilot. He has engaged in international cooperation activities both in and out of Japan. In private, he enjoys tennis with his family. He and his family are actively involved in child welfare work and fostering.