Richard Samuels | People

Richard Samuels
Ford International Professor of Political Science
Director, Center for International Studies


Richard J. Samuels is Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the Center for International Studies. He has been head of the MIT Political Science Department, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Japan of the National Research Council, and Chair of the Japan-US Friendship Commission. He has also been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and was awarded an imperial decoration, the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star by the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese Prime Minister. From 2014 to 2019 he was an Einstein Visiting Fellow at the Free University of Berlin, where he directed a research group on East Asian Security during the summer. His study of the political and policy consequences of the 2011 Tohoku catastrophe, 3:11: Disaster and Change in Japan, was published by Cornell University Press in 2013. Samuels’ Securing Japan: Tokyo’s Grand Strategy and the Future of East Asia, was a finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize for the best book in international affairs. Machiavelli’s Children won the Marraro Prize from the Society for Italian Historical Studies and the Jervis-Schroeder Prize from the International History and Politics section of American Political Science Association. Earlier books were awarded prizes from the Association for Asian Studies, the Association of American University Press, and the Ohira Memorial Foundation. His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, International Security, Political Science Quarterly, International Organization, Journal of Modern Italian Studies, National Interest, Journal of Japanese Studies, and Daedalus. His history of the Japanese intelligence community, Special Duty, was named one of the "Best of Books 2019" by Foreign Affairs, and its translation has been an Amazon best seller in Japan since its publication by Nikkei Books in 2021. 




Publications|Selected Publications

Richard Samuels and Eric Heginbotham, "A New Military Strategy for Japan," Foreign Affairs, July 16, 2018.


Mayumi Fukushima and Richard J. Samuels, "Japan's National Security Council: filling the whole of government?" International Affairs, Volume 94, Issue 4, 1 July 2018, Pages 773–790


Richard J. Samuels and Corey Wallace, "Introduction: Japan's pivot in Asia," International Affairs, Volume 94, Issue 4, 1 July 2018, Pages 703–710


Richard Samuels and Eric Heginbotham, "Active Denial: Redesigning Japan's Response to China's Military Challenge," International Security, Vol. 42, No. 4, Spring 2018


Richard Samuels and Mike M. Mochizuki, "Japan's Energy Security: Strategic Discourse and Domestic Politics," chapter in Mike M. Mochizuki and Deepa Ollapally (eds.), Energy Security in Asia and Euroasia (London: Routledge, 2017)


Richard Samuels and Eric Heginbotham, How to Get China to Use Its Leverage against North Korea, The National Interest, September 18, 2016


Richard Samuels and Eric Heginbotham, "Poor Substitute: No Japanese Submarines Down Under," Foreign Affairs, 3 May 2016


Richard Samuels, "Japan's 3.11 Master Narrative Still Under Construction," East Asian Forum, Australian National University, March 2016


Richard Samuels, "Abe's History Report Fails Japan-ROK Relations," East Asian Forum, Australian National University, August 2015


Richard Samuels, "Something for Everyone in Abe's WWII Statement," East Asian Forum, Australian National University, August 2015


Richard Samuels, "Who Decides Japan's Past, and Future," The National Interest, May 2015





NPR, Here and Now, May 13, 2016, "Obama's Visit to Hiroshima Is About Memory More Than It's About Apology."

NHK, September 11 and 12, 2015. Topic: "Power Plays in Asia-Pacific 70 years after WWII"


Moderator, MIT Starr Forum, "3.11 Ten Years Later: Disaster and Resilience in Japan." March 11, 2021.

UC San Diego: "A Conversation about Japanese Politics and Public Policy with Richard Samuels," March 9, 2011.

Moderator, MIT Starr Forum, "President Biden's Foreign Policy Challenges: Views from Abroad," January27, 2021.

Moderator, MIT Starr Forum, "Democracy in distress?" October 23, 2020.


The Japanese Intelligence Community & Espionage, March 15, 2020. Japan Station: A Podcast, by

Asia Today with Jeffrey Bingham Mead, on December 7, 2019, discussing Samuels' new book Special Duty. Podcast #49


Quoted in "The Fukushima disaster was not the turning point many had hoped," The Economist, March 6, 2021.

HIs work is discussed in "National security is in the eye of the beholder,"The Japan Times, May 11, 2020.

Quoted in "North Korea's Threat Pushes Japan to Reassess Its Might and Rights," New York Times, September 15, 2017.