Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Tsuneo Akaha

I am passionate about finding local solutions to global human security problems through collaboration with colleagues around the world.
I love being a professor at MIIS because we are a community with a common goal: make a difference in the world.
Director of our Center for East Asian Studies, Professor Akaha specializes in Japanese foreign and security policy, international relations of the Asia Pacific, international political economy, globalization, human rights, human security, and international migration. He came to the U.S. as an American Field Service (AFS) student during high school. He was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Tokyo and Seikei University (Tokyo), and a Japan Foundation Research Fellow at Hokkaido University's Slavic Research Center (Sapporo). He has been a Visiting Professor at Waseda University, Tokyo and at the University of Shimane. He has served as President of Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast (ASPAC) and of the Comparative Interdisciplinary Studies Section of the International Studies Association.

Professor Akaha is the author of Japan in Global Ocean Politics (1985) and the editor/co-editor of The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Balancing Soft and Hard Power in East Asia (2010), which won a Masayoshi Ohira Special Prize in 2011; Crossing National Borders: Human Migration Issues in Northeast Asia (2005); The Future of North Korea (2002); Politics and Economics in Northeast Asia: Nationalism and Regionalism in Contention (1999); Politics and Economics in the Russian Far East: Changing Ties with Asia-Pacific (1997); International Political Economy (1991); and Japan in the Posthegemonic World (1990). He is also a member of the editorial board of International Relations of the Asia-Pacific.

He has contributed numerous articles to such journals as the American Political Science Review, Journal of Asian Studies, Asian Survey, Pacific Review, Pacific Affairs, Pacific Focus, Asian Perspective, Journal of East Asian Studies, Journal of Asian and African Studies, Ecological Law Quarterly, Millennium, Peace Forum, Peace and Change, Brown Journal of World Affairs, East Asia Review, Politique étrangère, Mongolian Journal of International Affairs, Journal of Asiatic Studies, and Journal of Human Security. 

His current research focuses on international migration and human security issues in East Asia, regionalism in East Asia, Russia and regional integration in East Asia, and post-3/11 Japan.

Professor Akaha's objective is to help students develop skills required for critical analysis of international policy and area studies, particularly in the Asia-Pacific context. 


Japanese foreign and security policy, international relations of the Asia Pacific, international political economy, Asian studies, Asia-Pacific development, East Asia security, globalization, human rights, human security, international migration, international relations theory, Northeast Asia and security issues, US-Asia policy

Recent Accomplishments

  • Completed a year-long contract with the Open Society Foundations to serve as an International Scholar for Smolny College at St. Petersburg State University, Russia.
  • Gave an invited lecture “Russia’s Pivot to East Asia,” at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Stockholm, Sweden, May 27, 2013.
  • Organized the annual conference of Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast at the Monterey Institute, June 7-9, 2013.
  • Submitted a book manuscript, co-edited  with Professor Vassilieva, on "Russia and East Asia: Increasing but Informal Integration" to Routledge, UK, to be published in December 2013.
  • Elected to serve as President of Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast for a one-year term, 2013-14.
  • Published: “Russia’s Mixed Prospects in Regional Integration in East Asia,” in “Expert Opinion,” School of Regional and International Relations, Far Eastern Federal University, Vladivostok, Russia, July 2013. http://ifl.wl.dvfu.ru/8323


PhD, MA, International Relations, University of Southern California; BA, Political Science, Oregon State University; BA, Political Science, Waseda University, Tokyo

Course List

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

DPPG 8560 / IPSG 8560 - Intro to Intl Migration      

This course will introduce students to migration as an object of policy studies, various aspects of migration as a social phenomenon, and policies designed to encourage, discourage, or otherwise affect the flow of people within and between countries. Among the issues to be addressed are: economic-development aspects of migration; human trafficking and relevant policy; gender and migration; public health issues associated with migration; demography-development link; migration as a factor in international relations; terrorism & border control issues relative to migration; refugee issues and policy; and the integration of migrants at destination. The course will also introduce students to international laws and other norms and frameworks dealing with migration and migrants, as well as to international organizations and non-governmental organizations actively involved with migration issues. Illustrative examples of problems of migration, migrants, and policy responses will be drawn from various countries and regions of the world. Students will begin developing skills in analyzing demographic, social, economic, and political factors in the migration process; dynamics of and policy responses to forced migration, the effectiveness of legal and policy instruments to regulate migration, and national and human security implications of migration.

Fall 2013 - MIIS, Fall 2014 - MIIS, Fall 2015 - MIIS

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DPPG 8599 / IPSG 8599 - HumanSecurity:Concept & Policy      

The concept of "human security" was first introduced in the 1994 Human
>Development Report by the United Nations Development Program. It has
>since attracted growing attention in the academic and policy
>communities around the world. The concept has also become part of
>official policy in some countries, including Japan and Canada. In
>contrast to the traditional concept of "national security" with its
>focus on the security of the state against military threats, "human
>security" emphasizes the protection of individual citizens¹ security
>not only from war and other forms of physical violence but also from
>threats of a political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental
>nature. At the most fundamental level, ³human security² is defined as
>"freedom from fear" and "freedom from want," but beyond that there are
>competing approaches to it, as well as critical challenges to it both
>as a concept and as a guide for national or international policy.
>This course will critically examine: (1) "human security" as a concept;
>(2) opportunities and challenges in translating the concept into
>policy"; and (3) case studies of human security problems and policies
>from around the world.

Fall 2013 - MIIS, Fall 2015 - MIIS

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IPSG 8512 - Culture&InternationalRelations      

Culture in International Relations

What is “culture”? How do we know culture when we see it? How does it manifest itself? How does it influence the way individuals, communities, and nations interact with each other? What is the relationship between culture and civilization? Does it make sense to talk about cultural and/or civilizational conflict? If it does, what form does it take? Does it necessarily lead to violent conflict? Is there such a thing as an international or global culture? What might be its elements and their sources? What new insights does our explicit focus on culture add to our understanding of international relations? What can we do with those insights in analyzing international policy development and implementation? In order to answer these questions, we will explore culture at three levels: (1) individual and community; (2) nation and state; and (3) the international system. At the individual-community level, we will examine the way culture shapes a person’s identity and role within his/her community. At the national level, we will explore the sources of "national culture" and how it informs the way members of a nation see and behave toward members of other nations, with a particular focus on the (re)production of ethnic identities, national myths, and political ideologies. At the international system level, we will scrutinize the impact of "national cultures" on relations between states, with a particular focus on deepening conflict between nationalism and globalism. How does nationalism sustain itself against the ever-expanding forces of liberal globalism? By mid-term the student will develop a research proposal to analyze the impact of culture (at any of the three levels mentioned above) on the interaction between two or more nations over a policy problem of particular interest to the student. In the second half of the semester the student will carry out the proposed research and at the conclusion of the semester he/she will present his/her findings.

Spring 2015 - MIIS

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IPSG 8531 - East Asia: Politics & Security      

With the dramatically changed balance of power, historical issues continuing to color contemporary international relations, North Korea's nuclear and missile development seemingly unresolvable, and both the United States and Russia "pivoting" toward the region, East Asia today is a region in flux. This course will provide a review of the developments of major power relations and challenges facing political and security policy communities in the region. The course will include a scenario building exercise guided by competing theories of international relations. There are no prerequisites for this course.

Spring 2014 - MIIS

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IPSG 8544 - Intro to HumanSecurity&Dvlpmnt      

The focus of this course is human security, the everyday security of individuals and the communities in which they live rather than the security of nation states. It is the gateway course into the field of human security and development. The key concepts of human security are freedom from fear, freedom from want, and freedom to live in a society of justice under the rule of law. Specific approaches and policies of human security covered in this course include conflict analysis, management and resolution, human rights, peacebuilding, legitimate institutions and good governance, rule of law and justice, and programs and policies designed to lower armed violence.

Spring 2014 - MIIS

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IPSG 8606 - Intl Migration & Development      

International Migration and Development

This course will examine the nexus of international migration and development, that is, how international migration contributes to development around the world and how the positive and negative consequences of development drive international migration. The United Nations High Level Panel convened to discuss post-2015 global development goals submitted its report to the Secretary General, and the report states international migration is a key aspect of development and should be an important part of development strategy. The course will be of particular interest to students who are pursuing a career in the nexus of international migration and development. Each student will select a country of interest, assess the role of international migration (both in-migration and out-migration) in its development strategy (or lack thereof), conduct a research into the two-way influence, both positive and negative, between international migration and development in that country, and develop a policy recommendation for maximizing the positive development impact of international migration.

Spring 2015 - MIIS

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IPSG 8614 - SemFrgnPlcy,Trade&SecPolE.Asia      

(East Asia is a dynamic region of great importance by virtue of its population size, economic dynamism, and political and security challenges. The impact of the region’s international relations is felt not only by the countries geographically located in the region but also by the rest of the world. The region is characterized by diversity in terms of historical, civilizational, and ethno-cultural backgrounds, political systems, levels of economic development, and foreign relations, as well as global impact, making regional relations very complex and sometimes very difficult, for major powers and smaller powers alike. This course will examine a broad range of foreign policy, trade, and security issues that present both opportunities and challenges to the regional countries and the United States. A unique feature of this course is that it includes a field trip to Tokyo and Beijing from March 12 to 22.* The students will learn first-hand the perspectives of local experts on the regional issues the seminar addresses through guest-lectures, interviews, library research, and discussions with local university students.

* Dec 12 - $100 deposit due; Feb 27 - remainder of program fee due.

Spring 2015 - MIIS

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IPSG 8631 - Seminar: Russia & East Asia      

Seminar: Russia and East Asia

This seminar will examine Russia’s relations with and integration into the East Asian region. Russia’s recently declared “pivot” to the east is an indication of the growing importance Moscow attaches to its strategic, political, and economic interests in East Asia, particularly with respect to China, Japan, and South Korea. The seminar will examine the nature of those interests and policies Moscow is following in pursuit of those interests. A special feature of this seminar is that two MIIS and two Middlebury students will be selected on competitive basis to take a fully-paid field research trip to Vladivostok and Khabarovsk from March 21 to 29. Participants will be selected during the November 7-14 period. The trip will include: (1) a series of meetings with instructors, researchers, and students at the Far Eastern Federal University's School of International and Regional Studies in Vladivostok, as well as the Economic Research Institute, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Khabarovsk; (2) interviews with officials of the regional administrations of Khabarovsk and Primorye; (3) a series of meetings with media reporters and nongovernmental organization representatives in Vladivostok and Khabarovsk; and (4) a questionnaire survey of instructors, researchers, and students at the two institutions named above regarding their views on evolving Russia-Japan relations. Upon return the students will write research papers with a particular focus on Russia’s integration with Northeast Asian countries. The other students will write a research paper on a topic approved by the instructor.

Spring 2015 - MIIS

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IPSG 8632 - SemIntergratdTheory,Rsrch&Prac      

Students ideally only take this course in their fourth semester of the Human Security and Development Track. Students spending their fourth semester doing IPSS, DPMI or the equivalent, can take this course in their third semester.
In this course students will map, review and connect the major theories they have studied. They will explore how the theories emerge and develop from the intersection of research and practice. At the same time, they will learn to understand the mutually reinforcing relationships between theory, research and practice. Through mapping and review of their own research and practice experiences, students will then develop their own theories of practice. By the end of the course, they will be able to present a portfolio of their informed approach to some of the global challenges, which they hope to tackle as they step into the ‘real’ world.

Spring 2014 - MIIS

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IPSG 8640 - Sem:Comprativ Migration Anlys      

Migration takes various forms, ranging from unskilled and skilled labor migration, regular and irregular migration, legal and illegal migration, temporary and permanent migration, refugees and asylum-seekers, to trafficking in persons and people smuggling. This seminar is designed for students to develop a comparative framework for analyzing one or more of these types and aspects of migration in two countries in two different regions of the world and to use that framework for research. The aim of such analysis is to: (1) identify the historical, geographical, political, economic, social, and cultural factors shaping the current state of migration in the countries compared, (2) the various factors informing the countries' current policies to deal with the situation, and (3) explain the differences and similarities in their approaches. In addition to the comparative analysis, students will choose one of the countries compared and prepare a "country profile," which offers a succinct summary of (1) and (2) above and a policy recommendation to improve the migration situation. Each student will present his/her country profile as if speaking to a group of journalists who have just been assigned to visit the country you have described and report on its current migration situation.

Fall 2014 - MIIS

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