Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, Graduate Schools for Law and Politics, University of Tokyo

I received a PhD in Law from the University of Tokyo. My research comprises the political and diplomatic history of
modern Japan. In 2003 I published my first book about the formation of the opposition party in Japan. My second
book, published in 2010, is about Meiji Japan’s restoration of sovereignty through the revision of “unequal treaties”
(now under translation into English). Recently, my interest stretches to several other fields including the history of
political lies and the challenges to them in the form of rhetoric and literature, which results in my third book, “Political
History of Deception: Insincere Politics of Earnest Society”, Chuokoronsensho, 2020 March.

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2019
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Professor, Graduate Schools for Law and Politics, University of Tokyo
Possible Revisions to the Status of Forces Agreement: From the Experience of the Meiji Treaty Revision

My research project, "Possible Revisions to the Status of Forces Agreement," aims to offer ideas on the types of revisions to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that are feasible and desirable to ensure the survival of the Japan–US Alliance. The main elements of the alliance today are the Japan–US Security Treaty (1952-, revised in 1960) and the SOFA (1960-). The former consists of 10 articles and is obviously significant in the sense that it describes the basic structure of the alliance, the wide range of military through economic cooperation, and shared values. The latter, SOFA, is no less important, being made up of 28 detailed articles stipulating the daily management of US military bases and related American privileges. The SOFA has been the target of protests by communities and inhabitants of the areas around the bases until today. It is hardly necessary to further explain why my project is policy-relevant, contemporary, and transnational. The question is how to make it original; given its chronological length and severity, there is already significant debate and research on this topic, but still no sign of a solution. My intention is to make the best use of comparison. Comparison among countries or regions is an important part of my project. One cannot understand the background of the SOFA without noting the envious observation by the Japanese government of the negotiation of NATO powers that resulted in the German Supplementary Agreement in 1959. One cannot accurately estimate the merits of the SOFA for Japan without the sense of rivalry on the part of the Philippines government leading to the revision of the US–Philippines Base Agreement in 1965. While such comparisons up until the present day are not necessarily new, my main device will be a diachronic comparison. I am a leading scholar of Meiji treaty revision— the revision of the so-called "unequal treaties" of the Meiji era (1868–1912). The revision of the Japan–US Security Treaty and the replacement of the annexed Administrative Agreement with the SOFA in 1960 was regarded as the "second Treaty Revision" by the Japanese at the time. The memory of the "first" treaty revision was not, however, accurate, and it has also quickly faded. I have learned useful lessons from preceding treaty revision: the potential traps that enlarge the perception gap between the Japanese government in charge of negotiations with the US and the Japanese who are annoyed with the treaty; the types of revision which appeal to the government and the people of Japan and those which fail; and the unpredictable ways in which treaty revision has been affected by the domestic regime and situation of treaty powers such as American federalism. I cannot guarantee that I, on my own, will come up with the correct answer for the revision of the SOFA, but I do guarantee that I will catalogue the conditions that make such a revision possible.