Tel: 01223 335172
University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations
John Swenson-Wright is the Fuji Bank University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations and a fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge. He read Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) as an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford, from 1984 to 1987 during which time he developed an interest in Japanese politics and foreign policy. From 1988 to 1989 he was a Monbusho visiting researcher at Kyoto University, where he worked under the guidance of Professor Masataka Kosaka, focusing on post-war relations between Japan and Korea.
From Japan he moved to the United States, where he completed an M.A. in International Relations (concentrating on East Asian studies) at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, in Washington, DC.
In 1991 he returned to Oxford, to St. Antony's college, for his D.Phil. in International Relations under the guidance of Professors Arthur Stockwin and Rosemary Foot. His research focused on early Cold War US-Japan foreign and security relations from 1945 to 1960, and involved extensive archival research both in the United States and in Japan, where he spent a ten month period as a visiting researcher at Tokyo University. His thesis was completed in 1997 and awarded the British International History Group (BIHG) annual dissertation prize.
His recent work has continued to concentrate on the Cold War relationship between the United States and Northeast Asia, with particular reference to the security and political relationships between the United States and Japan and the two Koreas, but has expanded to include contemporary regional security issues and political change.
His early work focused on the US-Japan relationship, including a monograph published by Stanford University Press, entitled Unequal Allies? United States Security and Alliance Policy Towards Japan, 1945-1960 (March 2005), as well as an edited translation of a Japanese memoir dealing with the role of Okinawa in bilateral US-Japan relations - The Best Course Available. A Personal Account of the Secret US-Japan Okinawa Reversion Negotiations - written by the late Professor Kei Wakaizumi, and published by Hawai'i University Press in April, 2002.
Current research interests range across traditional archival research, methodological issues relating to the overlap between international relations theory and contemporary history, and the role of the United States in nation building in Northeast Asia, especially the tensions between Cold War security interests and the promotion of democratization in both Japan and South Korea.
In addition to his work at Cambridge, he is an Associate Fellow at the Asia Program of Chatham House where since 2002 he has convened a regular discussion group on the politics and international relations of the Korean peninsula. His focus on contemporary issues involves regular contact with the press and he has made presentations to a variety of institutions focusing on contemporary foreign policy, including Chatham House, the International Institute for Strategic studies, the Royal College of Defence Studies, the OECD, the US Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK House of Commons.
As part of his policy-related work he is a member of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group, the steering committee of the UK-Korea Forum for the Future, and he is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on the Future of Korea.
He is currently working on four volume edited compilation of readings on the politics and international relations of Korea, as well an archival-based research monograph exploring trilateral diplomacy and US Cold War relations with Japan and South Korea. Recent publications include:
“East Asia: Consistency and Sensitivity Needed in a Strategically Vital Region,” in Robin Niblet, ed., America and A Changed World: a Question of Leadership (London: WileyBlackwell, 2010)
“Sasakawa Ryouichi: Unravelling an Enigma,” in Ryoichi Sasakawa and Ken Hijino (trans), Sugamo Diary, (London: Hurst/Columbia, 2010)
“Contending with Regional Uncertainty: Japan’s Response to Contemporary East Asian Security Challenges,” in Patricia Nelson and Marie Sodeberg, eds, Perspectives on Change in Japanese Politics and Economics, (Routledge, 2010)
“The Limits of Normality: Japanese-Korean post-Cold War Interactions,” in David Welch, ed. Japan as a Normal Nation (University of Toronto Press, 2010)
As part of his teaching commitments at Cambridge, he has supervised undergraduate and graduate dissertations dealing with a variety of issues, including Sino-Japanese post-Cold War relations, EU-Japan relations, Japanese regional security policy, the security and politics of the Korean peninsula, and crisis-management within Japan. He welcomes enquiries from graduate students interested in working in the field of Japanese and US post-1945 diplomacy and security policy as well as Japanese and Korean domestic politics.