Richard Samuels

Richard Samuels

Ford International Professor Professor of Political Science

CV (pdf)

Japanese politics; Japanese foreign policy; Japanese security policy; Asian security.


Richard Samuels is Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been head of the MIT Political Science Department, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Japan of the National Research Council, and chair of the Japan-US Friendship Commission. He has also been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and was awarded an Imperial decoration, the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star by the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese Prime Minister. His study of the political and policy consequences of the 2011 Tohoku catastrophe, 3:11: Disaster and Change in Japan, was published by Cornell University Press in 2013.  Samuels' Securing Japan: Tokyo's Grand Strategy and the Future of East Asia, was a finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize for the best book in international affairs in 2007. Machiavelli's Children won the Marraro Prize from the Society for Italian Historical Studies and the Jervis-Schroeder Prize from the International History and Politics section of American Political Science Association. Earlier books were awarded prizes from the Association for Asian Studies, the Association of American University Press, and the Ohira Memorial Foundation. His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, International Security, Political Science Quarterly, International Organization, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, The National Interest, Journal of Japanese Studies, and Daedalus. In 2014 he was appointed Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Free University of Berlin, where he directs a research group on East Asian Security during the summer.  He is currently writing a history of the Japanese intelligence community with the support of the Smith Richardson Foundation.


Japan’s Intelligence and Security: Examination of recent changes in the Japanese intelligence community and their relevance to national security strategy.

Secrecy, Privacy, and International Relations: Project considers how norms about secrecy, privacy, surveillance, and transparency are generated and observed or transgressed—and how they affect international relations. It also considers how the new information ecology affects behaviors of states in the international system.

Japan and the United States in East Asia: With the rise of China and the end of the Cold War, the great power quadrilateral in East Asia has shifted. While the Japan-US alliance continues to anchor regional stability, the domestic politics that support it in both countries are also shifting. This project explores how security policy choices are constrained and enabled by changing security policy discourses in Washington and Tokyo.

Recent Publications

“Japan’s Nuclear Hedge: Beyond ‘Allergy’ and ‘Breakout’” chapter in Ashley Tellis, ed. Strategic Asia 2013-2014: Asia in the Second Nuclear Age. Seattle: National Bureau of Asian Research, 2013. With James Schoff. (pdf)

3.11: Disaster and Change in Japan. Cornell University Press, 2013. (link)

"Tokyo's Transformation: How Japan is Changing and What it Means for the United States," Foreign Affairs, September/October 2011, pp.138-148.

"Kidnapping Politics in East Asia" Journal of East Asian Studies, Volume 10, No.3. November 2010.

"Prosperity's Children: Generational Change and Japan's Future Leadership," Asia Policy, Number 6. July 2008, pp.15-51. With J. Patrick Boyd.

"'New Fighting Power!': Japan's Growing Maritime Capabilities and East Asian Security" International Security Vol. 32, No. 3 Winter 2007/2008, pp. 84-112.

"Japan's Goldilocks Strategy" chapter in A.T.J. Lennon and A. Kozlowski, eds. Global Powers in the 21st Century. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008.

Securing Japan: Tokyo's Grand Strategy and the Future of East Asia. Cornell University Press, 2007.


17.486 Japan and East Asian Security
17.53 Rise of Asia (with Professors Fravel and Narang)
17.538 Politics and Policy in Contemporary Japan
17.541/17.543 Introduction to Japanese Politics and Society
17.591 Research Seminar in Applied International Studies


Richard Samuels

Tokyo's Arms Exports

Richard Samuels, Eric Heginbotham The Cipher Brief

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s current political problems obscure the striking speed with which he successfully tackled thorny and long-standing security policy problems, including the lifting of the country’s arms export ban