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Centre for Geopolitics

Providing historically grounded approaches to enduring geopolitical problems

The Japan and Koreas Programme focuses primarily on the history, politics, and international relations of Japan and the Korean peninsula. It is headed by Dr John Nilsson-Wright who works with Professor William Hurst within the broader framework of the Indo-Pacific strand. 

Northeast Asia has long been an arena for geopolitical conflict, both in the modern and pre-modern eras. During the late 19th century the Great Powers competed for influence in both China and on the Korean peninsula, and during the 20th century the region was the arena for the Pacific War, disputes over the status of Taiwan, and the Korean War from 1950-53, the first “hot” conflict of the emerging Cold War.  

Today, the region is a focal point for a wide range of policy issues, including addressing the nuclear risks associated with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK); human rights challenges; alliance coordination between the United States and its two key regional allies, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK); newly emerging mini and multilateral security partnerships; regional economic integration initiatives, and widening and deepening Indo-Pacific cooperation between Asian, European, and North American partners.  

The governments of Japan and the ROK are both increasingly active policy innovators in a wide range of areas and the Programme considers the significance of this activism in shaping regional and global developments, particularly against the backdrop of recently strengthened trilateral coordination between the United States, Japan, and the ROK.  

The Programme also analyses the critically important relationship between domestic politics and foreign policy in influencing these developments, particularly given the growing rivalry globally between authoritarian and democratic regimes.  

History has long been a source of conflict in Northeast Asia and contested issues of identity and legitimacy frequently fuel tension between and within states in the region. Understanding this dynamic process is a key element in the research of the Programme which aims to bring together policy-makers, scholars, and opinion leaders in civil society from within and outside the region to exchange views freely and constructively.