Professor Akaha is a native of Japan and first came to the U.S. as a high school exchange student. After graduating from Waseda University in Tokyo, he returned to the U.S. to pursue graduate studies at the University of Southern California (USC) and received his PhD in International Relations in 1981. Before joining the Institute in 1989 he had taught at USC, Kansas State University, and Bowling Green State University (Ohio). He teaches courses on human security, international migration, multiculturalism, East Asia, and Russia-East Asia Relations. He has authored or edited 11 books and authored over 100 journal articles and book chapters on topics ranging from human security and migration in East Asia to Japan’s relations with the U.S., Russia, China, and Korea. His co-edited book The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Balancing Soft and Hard Power in East Asia received an Ohira Memorial Award Special Prize.

Akaha has received many grants and awards, including a Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Fellowship, a Japan Foundation Professional Fellowship, and research grants from the U.S. Institute of Peace, Association for Asian Studies, Freeman Foundation, and Center for Global Partnership. He has also served as president of Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast. He has given invited lectures in countries including Japan, China, Korea, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkey, Canada, France, and Sweden.

Courses Taught

Course Description

Introduction to International Migration Policy

This course introduces students to international migration as an object of policy studies, various aspects of international migration as a social phenomenon, and policies designed to encourage, discourage, or otherwise affect the flow of people across national borders. Among the issues and aspects of international migration to be addressed in the course are: economic development; labor migration; human trafficking; gender; public health; demography and development; environmentally-driven migration; national and human security; refugee and internally displaced persons (IDPs); cultural and other issues of integration at migration destination. The course will also introduce students to international laws and other norms and frameworks pertaining to international migration and migrants, as well as international organizations and non-governmental organizations actively involved with international migration issues. A comprehensive understanding of these issues requires a multidisciplinary approach encompassing political science, sociology, economics, demography, language and area studies, environmental studies, and security studies. Illustrative examples of problems of migration, migrants, and policy responses will be drawn from various parts of the world. Students will develop skills in analyzing a variety of policy-relevant issues, including but not limited to: demographic, social, economic, political, and security factors in the migration process; dynamics of and policy responses to forced migration, the effectiveness of legal and policy instruments to regulate international migration, and national and human security implications migration across national borders.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

The course introduces students to a range of key challenges Japan is currently facing as the nation tries to redefine its role in the fast-changing world. Politically, the world is transitioning from the post-Cold War euphoria about ideological victory of capitalism over communism (the so-called “end of history”) toward an uncertain future characterized by a defuse distribution of power, both hard power and soft power. Economically, globalization is being driven by technological revolutions, national and cross-border market expansion, and the massive and instantaneous international capital flows and is changing the distribution of wealth and development opportunities around the world. The changing political and economic power structures are contributing to a major shift in the distribution of military power, leaving no country in a position to assert a superpower status and raising questions about the sustainability of military alliances that were formed during the post-WWII and Cold War decades. Finally, the cross-national transmission of social values and cultural practices, e.g., in fashion, food, entertainment, arts, literature, and sports, is creating a new world of social innovations and cultural fusions that defy national borders. In the face of these sweeping changes, the Japanese are raising questions about their future: How much longer can Japan remain the third largest economy in the world? Can the Japanese people retain their identity as a peace-loving people under their pacifist constitution? Can they continue to believe that their country is characterized by ethno-cultural homogeneity? Can they continue to claim manga, anime, umami, and myriad other products of Japanese origin as “Japanese” cultural products when they become popularized and localized in other countries? How the Japanese answer these questions will help redefine Japan’s role in the world and how the country will relate to other key world powers. The class will study how the Japanese intellectuals are addressing these questions and what answers they are coming up with through individual reading and class discussion of a selection of Japanese writings about their nation’s relations with other relevant world powers, including the United States, China, Korea, Russia, Southeast Asian countries, and the European Union.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

This course takes various forms, ranging from regular (legal) and irregular (illegal) migration, refugees and asylum-seekers, internally displaced persons (IDP), human trafficking and people smuggling, unskilled and skilled labor to temporary and permanent residency. Migration issues range from migrants’ rights, national and human security implications to economic and social impacts in sending and receiving countries. Moreover, immigration policies are the result of domestic forces, including inter and intra-institutional power dynamics, public opinion, national identity considerations, partisan struggles, social and economic requirements, demographic and population changes, national security, and foreign policy. This seminar will focus on the different factors and categories of migration and the state policies that manage and control migration flows. Each student will develop a comparative analysis of two countries’ immigration policies that share similar policy challenges. The research will include a description of the shared policy challenges with a policy analysis of the similarities, differences, and effectiveness of their migration policies.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

The course introduces students to a range of key challenges Japan is currently facing as the nation tries to redefine its role in the fast-changing world. Politically, the world is transitioning from the post-Cold War euphoria about ideological victory of capitalism over communism (the so-called “end of history”) toward an uncertain future characterized by a defuse distribution of power, both hard power and soft power. Economically, globalization is being driven by technological revolutions, national and cross-border market expansion, and the massive and instantaneous international capital flows and is changing the distribution of wealth and development opportunities around the world. The changing political and economic power structures are contributing to a major shift in the distribution of military power, leaving no country in a position to assert a superpower status and raising questions about the sustainability of military alliances that were formed during the post-WWII and Cold War decades. Finally, the cross-national transmission of social values and cultural practices, e.g., in fashion, food, entertainment, arts, literature, and sports, is creating a new world of social innovations and cultural fusions that defy national borders. In the face of these sweeping changes, the Japanese are raising questions about their future: How much longer can Japan remain the third largest economy in the world? Can the Japanese people retain their identity as a peace-loving people under their pacifist constitution? Can they continue to believe that their country is characterized by ethno-cultural homogeneity? Can they continue to claim manga, anime, umami, and myriad other products of Japanese origin as “Japanese” cultural products when they become popularized and localized in other countries? How the Japanese answer these questions will help redefine Japan’s role in the world and how the country will relate to other key world powers. The class will study how the Japanese intellectuals are addressing these questions and what answers they are coming up with through individual reading and class discussion of a selection of Japanese writings about their nation’s relations with other relevant world powers, including the United States, China, Korea, Russia, Southeast Asian countries, and the European Union.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

Areas of Interest

Akaha’s interests include international travel, photography, reading, and nature hikes. He is committed to promoting international cooperation in higher education and helped the Institute establish exchange programs with Waseda University. He has also served as an Open Society Institute-funded International Scholar to serve as an academic mentor to young professors in Russia (Saint Petersburg, Perm, Ekaterinburg), and Kyrgyzstan (Bishkek). He is also on the International Advisory Board for the School of Regional and International Studies of the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Russia and the Mongolian Development Research Center in Ulaan Baatar.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD & MA in International Relations, University of Southern California
  • BA in Political Science, Waseda University, Tokyo and Oregon State University

Professor Akaha has been teaching at the Institute since 1989.

Publications

Books

  • Japan in Global Ocean Politics (1985) (author)
  • Russia and East Asia: Informal and Gradual Integration (2014) (co-editor and author)
  • The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Balancing Soft and Hard Power in East Asia (2010), winner of Masayoshi Ohira Special Prize (2011) (co-editor and author)
  • Crossing National Borders: Human Migration Issues in Northeast Asia (2005) (co-editor and author)
  • The Future of North Korea (2002) (editor and author)
  • Politics and Economics in Northeast Asia: Nationalism and Regionalism in Contention (1999) (editor and author)
  • Politics and Economics in the Russian Far East: Changing Ties with Asia-Pacific (1997) (editor and author)
  • International Political Economy (1991) (co-editor)
  • Japan in the Posthegemonic World (1990) (co-editor and author)

Editorial Board Member

  • International Relations of the Asia-Pacific
  • Asian International Studies Review

Articles/book chapters 

  • ​“Abe’s Gamble on Trump Threatens to Backfire: “ East Asia Forum, July 8, 2019.
  • “Trump–Abe meeting delivers mixed results,” East Asia Forum, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, April 26, 2018.
  • “International Migration and Human Security and Development in Mongolia,” Mongolian Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 28 (2018).
  • “International Migration and Human Security and Development in Mongolia,” in Ch. Chuluun and S. Battulga, eds., Mongolia: History, Culture, Geopolitics, Foreign Exchange, Ulaan Baatar: Institute of Archeology and History, Mongolian Academy of Sciences and School of International Relations and Public Management, National University of Mongolia, 2017.
  • “From National Security to Human Security,” in Michael R. Auslin and Daniel E. Bob, eds., U.S.-Japan Approaches to Democracy Promotion, Washington, DC: Sasakawa Peace Foundation, 2017.
  • “Putin’s Russia and Today’s Japan: Attitudes and Challenges,” Global Asia, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Fall 2016) (with Anna Vassilieva)
  • ​“Russia and Japan: From Distant Neighbors to Future Partners,” in Victoria Panova and Artyom Lukin, eds. Russia and Japan: Looking Together into the Future, Vladivostok: Far Eastern Federal University, 2016.
  • “Hokuto-ajia Chiiki ni okeru Chiiki Togo Katei” (The regional integration process in Northeast Asia), in Taizo Iida, ed.,​ Hokuto-ajia no Chiiki Koryu: Kodai kara Gendai, soshite Mirai e (Regional exchange in Northeast Asia: From ancient times to the present and the future), Tokyo: Kokusai Shoin, 2015.
  • ​“The ‘Comfort Women’ Issue: The Moral, Legal, and Political Challenges in Japan-South Korea Relations,” in Mahendra Gaur, ed., Studies on Japan, Country-specific Study Project, Vol. 3, New Delhi: Foreign Policy Research Center, 2015. 
  • “Cause for Optimism in Russia-Japan Relations, East Asia Forum, Crawford School for Economics and Government, Australia National University, July 2016 (with Anna Vassilieva)​.
  • “’Comfort Women’: A Lasting Barrier to Japan-South Korea Reconciliation,”​​ Global Asia, Vol. 10, No. 3 (Fall 2015). 

News Feed