Tsuneo Akaha
Casa Fuente Building CF300J
(831) 647-3564

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

Courses offered in the past two years.

  • Current term
  • Upcoming term(s)

Human Security and Human Development

This course will critically examine the promises and limitations of “human security” and “human development,” two concepts adopted by the UNDP and other UN agencies as well as by a number of countries. Central to the examination is the question: What are the political and policy implications of a “people-centered” reconceptualization of security and development and how should nations address their major human security and human development problems? The course will review the evolution of the two concepts, their operational definitions, and the UNDP’s annual Human Development Report, which provides the Human Development Index (HDI) of most of the members of the United Nations. Each student will then select a country of interest to her/him and develop a report that gives illustrative examples of human security and human development challenges it faces, describes how it addresses or fails to address those problems, and provides recommendations for how it should. The students are free to choose a policy area of concern to them, e.g., standard of living, employment, health, education, environment, housing, movement (migration), culture, language, and faith (religion).

Fall 2019 - MIIS

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Seminar: Multiculturalism - Global Discourse and National Policy and Practice

The course will review the evolution of global discourse on multiculturalism as an approach to protect the rights of both majority populations and minority ethnic, indigenous, and migrant communities to their respective cultures. It will also examine national policies and practice in multiculturalism in selective countries. The underlying concern of this course is how to preserve cultural diversity in the increasingly globalized world in a way that is politically sustainable and morally and legally justifiable. After reviewing the evolution of global multiculturalism discourse, the students will conduct an in-depth analysis of multiculturalism policy and practice of selective countries from different parts of the world and incorporate their findings into a report to be submitted to an international agency such as UNESCO. The report will also include recommendations regarding norms, principles, and rules for further advancing the cause of multiculturalism at the global and national levels.

Spring 2018 - MIIS, Fall 2019 - MIIS

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Meeting dates: March 25, 2019 – April 12, 2019

SPR:SEM: Advancing Opportunities for Migrant Workers

This course will introduce you to Salinas and Watsonville migrant communities, where you will interview migrant workers. Ask them what their needs are and what their most difficult experiences are. Help them find solutions to their troubles. You will help them improve their economic situation while preserving their culture and family ties. You will then analyze the results of the interviews, qualitatively and quantitatively. You can also practice your Spanish ability if you would like. You will improve your interviewing skills. Most importantly, however, how to connect with members of the human community.

Spring 2019 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

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SEM: East Asia: Trade, Development and Diplomacy

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 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 their management very difficult. 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 research trip to Tokyo and Beijing (March 16-24, 2019). 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.

In the first half of the semester each student will develop a research proposal on a topic approved by the instructors, collect information for the proposed research during the field trip to Tokyo and Beijing. In the second half of the semester the student will continue to research the topic, write up a research paper, and present it to an audience composed of both classmates and other interested MIIS students and faculty.

Spring 2019 - MIIS

View in Course Catalog

This course introduces students to international migration and its implications for human security of both the migrant and other impacted communities. Migration has been an important part of human history and today it is a global phenomenon with international, national, and local impacts around the world. The factors inducing people to move from one country to another or within their countries are myriad and include violent conflict, political persecution, discrimination and other forms of human rights violations, economic development and disparity within and between countries, socio-cultural changes, intra-company transfers, and skewed distribution of access to educational and cultural opportunities, as well as public health systems. The impacts of migration are equally varied, ranging from economic development, political and policy responses, perceived national security threats, socio-cultural changes, environmental and resource conditions, changes in income and economic opportunity distribution, and changes in individual, family, and community identities. Among the issues and aspects of international migration and human security that will be addressed in this 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 dealing with international migration and migrants, as well as international organizations and non-governmental organizations actively involved with international migration issues.

Spring 2019 - MIIS, MIIS First Half of Term

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Workshop: Russia and East Asia

This workshop will examine Russia’s relations with 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 workshop will examine the nature of those interests and Moscow's policies to realize those interests. A special feature of this workshop is that a small group of MIIS and Middlebury College students will be selected to take part in a fully funded field research trip to Vladivostok and Khabarovsk in March. The trip will include a series of meetings with: (1) professors, researchers, and students at the Far Eastern Federal University's School of Regional and International Studies in Vladivostok, as well as the Economic Research Institute, Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Khabarovsk; (2) officials of the administrations of the Khabarovsk and Primorye regions; and (3) journalists and nongovernmental organization representatives in Vladivostok and Khabarovsk. Upon return you will write a research paper based on these meetings. The other students who are not selected to participate in the field research will also write a research paper on a topic approved by the instructor.

Interested students need to apply for participation in this workshop, including the field trip. Submit a letter of interest and current resume to Professor Tsuneo Akaha and Professor Anna Vassilieva.

Spring 2018 - MIIS, MIIS Workshop

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.



  • 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). 

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