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Dr John Nilsson-Wright

Cold War relationship between the USA and NE Asia, particularly Japan and the two Koreas, as well as contemporary regional security issues and political change
Dr John Nilsson-Wright

University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations

Office Phone: 01223 335172


John Nilsson-Wright is the Fuji Bank University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Politics and International Relations and a Fellow of Darwin College. 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.

Subject groups/Research projects

Japanese Studies:

Research Interests

Dr Nilsson-Wright's 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.

Key Publications

“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.