As of November 2023

Japan Panel: Profile


Photo of Sasae Kenichiro

Mr. SASAE Kenichiro

President, The Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA). Mr. SASAE Kenichiro joined the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs after graduating from The University of Tokyo in 1974. His distinguished diplomatic career includes assignments as Executive Assistant to the Prime Minister, Director-General of the Economic Affairs Bureau, Director-General of the Asian & Oceania Affairs Bureau, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Ambassador of Japan to the United States. He was appointed to his present position in June 2018 to head Japan’s premier foreign affairs think tank.

Vice Chair:

Photo of Dr. KUBO Fumiaki

Dr. KUBO Fumiaki

Dr. KUBO Fumiaki has been the President of National Defense Academy of Japan since April, 2021. He is affiliated with the 21st Century Public Policy Institute as Research Director as well as with the Japan Institute for International Affairs as Senior Adjunct Fellow. He studied at Cornell University in 1984-86, at the Johns Hopkins University in 1991-93, and at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland in 1998-99. He was an Invited Professor at SciencesPo in Paris in the spring of 2009, and a Japan Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 2014. Kubo attended the Faculty of Law, the University of Tokyo, and received his B.A. in 1979 and Ph.D. in 1989 from the University of Tokyo. He taught at the University of Tsukuba, Keio University, and the University of Tokyo. He is the author of many books which include: Modern American Politics (with ABE Hitoshi), Ideology and Foreign Policy After Iraq in the United States (editor), A Study on the Infrastructure of American Politics (editor). In 1989, he received the Sakurada-Kai Gold Award for the Study of Politics and the Keio Gijuku Award. In 2001 and 2002, Kubo served on the Prime Minister's Commission on the Study of Direct Election System of Prime Minister. From June 2016 to June 2018, he was the President of the Japanese Association for American Studies.


Photo of Mr. AKITA Hiroyuki

Mr. AKITA Hiroyuki

MR. AKITA Hiroyuki is a Commentator of Nikkei. He regularly writes commentaries and columns, analysis mainly on foreign & international security affairs. He joined Nikkei in 1987 and worked at Political News Dept. (1998-2002) where he covered Japanese foreign & security policies, domestic politics. He was Senior & Editorial Staff Writer (2009-17) , and he also worked at “Leader Writing Team ” of the Financial Times in London (Oct-Dec, 17).

He was Beijing Correspondent (1994-98) and Washington Chief Correspondent (2002-06). In Beijing, he reported major news events such as death of Deng Xiaoping, Hong Kong handover to China. In Washington, D.C., he covered White House & Pentagon, State Department during Bush administration.

He graduated from Jiyu Gakuen College in 1987 and Boston University (M.A.). From 2006 to 2007, he was an associate of U.S.-Japan Program at Harvard University, where he conducted a research on U.S.-China-Japan relations. In March 2019, he won the Vaughn-Ueda International Journalist Award, a prize for outstanding reporting of international affairs. He is an author of two books in Japanese: “Anryu (Power Game of U.S.-China-Japan)”(2008), “Ranryu (Strategic Competition of U.S.-Japan and China)”(2016).

Photo of Ms. KOBAYASHI Izumi


Ms. KOBAYASHI Izumi is Director and a member of the Board, ANA Holdings, Inc., Mizuho Financial Group, Inc., and OMRON Corporation.
After graduating from university, she joined Mitsubishi Kasei Kogyo (now Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation). From 2001 to 2008, she was in the position of Representative Director and CEO of Merrill Lynch in Japan. In 2008–13, she was CEO and Executive Vice President of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), the political risk insurance arm of the World Bank Group. She also served on the Osaka Securities Exchange as a Non-Executive Board Member from 2002–08 and Board Member of Japan Association of Corporate Directors (Keizai Doyukai) from 2007–09 and from 2015-19. She also contributes variety of committees of government and Academia, i.e., a member of the Administrative Council of Tokyo University, a member of the Board of Advisors of Research Institute of Humanity and Nature etc.

Photo of Dr. SATO Yuri

Dr. SATO Yuri

Dr. SATO Yuri serves as the Executive Vice President of The Japan Foundation (JF) from October 2021. At the JF she mainly oversees Japanese studies and global partnership programs with the aim of solving common issues through international dialogue.

Prior to this she has been working as a researcher on Indonesia and Southeast Asia, especially economy, industry, business and political economic studies at the Institute of Developing Economies (IDE-JETRO) since 1981. She stationed in Indonesia as a researcher in 1985-87 and 1996-99, and as a special advisor for the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN) in 2008-10. In 2015-19 she served as Executive Vice President of IDE, and of JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) in charge of promoting economic exchange with Asia and Oceania.

Her present notable positions include Auditor of the Japan Association of Asian Studies (JAAS), Vice President of the Colloquium on Indonesian Studies in Japan, and Director of the Japan Indonesia Association Inc. She obtained master and doctorate degrees in economics from University of Indonesia. She is the author/editor of numerous academic works, and the recipient of the 24th Grand Prix Asia Pacific Awards and the 16th Okita Memorial Prize for International Development Research on her book. She also has experiences in teaching at several universities including the Waseda University and the University of Tokyo.

Photo of Mr. SHIMATANI Hiroyuki

Mr. SHIMATANI Hiroyuki

Mr. SHIMATANI Hiroyuki is the Executive Director of The Museum of the Imperial Collections, Sannomaru Shozokan, from October 2023, and the President of the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage from April 2021. After graduating from the Department of Fine Arts, Faculty of Education, Tokyo University of Education, he began his career as an assistant curator in the Calligraphy Division of Tokyo National Museum in 1984. He went on to serve in the same museum as the Director of Cultural Property, the Director of Curatorial Research, and the Executive Vice Director (also serving as the Research Coordinator of the National Institutes for Cultural Heritage) before directing the Kyushu National Museum as the Executive Director. His recent publications include Nihon no Bijutsu (Arts of Japan) 519: Wayo no sho (Japanese-style Calligraphy; August 1, 2009, Gyosei Corporation), Nihon no Bijutsu (Arts of Japan) 504: Bunjin no Sho (Calligraphy of Scholars; May 10, 2008, Shibundo Publishing), and Sho no Bi (Beauty of Calligraphy; July 15, 2013, Mainichi Shimbun Publishing Inc.). He was a member of the Textbook Approval and Research Council (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) and the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO (MEXT). He is currently chair of Cultural Councils Cultural Property Subcommittee and Museum Subcommittee for MEXT.

Photo of Mr. SUGIURA Yasuyuki

Mr. SUGIURA Yasuyuki

Mr. SUGIURA Yasuyuki has been serving as Managing Director of Toyo Bunko (The Oriental Library) since June 2017. After graduating from the Faculty of Economics at the University of Tokyo, he joined Mitsubishi Corporation in 1978. He first started his career in steel related business and then served as the GM of Mitsubishi’s Washington D.C. office from 1998 to 2003. And eventually assumed the position of President and CEO of Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas) from 2013 to 2016. He now serves as an advisor to the company. During his time at Mitsubishi, he served a total of 15 years in the U.S. with three stints in New York as well as one in Springfield, OH and Washington D.C. In 2016, he was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University’s Asia Center for one year and now serves as a member of its International Advisory Board. He also serves as one of the panelists for the final selection of the Tsinghua University’s Schwarzman Scholars MBA Program. He also serves on the board of several listed companies in Japan.

Photo of Dr.TAKAHASHI Yuko


Dr. TAKAHASHI Yuko was named the eleventh President of Tsuda College (now Tsuda University) in 2016. With a B.A. (American Studies) from Tsuda College, an M.A. in International Affairs from the University of Tsukuba, an M.A. in History and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Kansas, she is also a Professor in the Department of English at Tsuda University. Her major research areas are American studies, American social history, and gender history. She currently serves as President of the International Federation for Research in Women’s History and President of Japan University Accreditation Association, and was President of the Japanese Association of American Studies from 2018 to 2020. She is an Executive Director of The American Studies Foundation and a Council Member of the Science Council of Japan. She was a Fulbright visiting scholar at Stanford University (2003-04) as well as Wellesley College (2013-14), and she is particularly interested in leadership education for the next generation at women’s colleges in both the U.S. and Japan.

Her numerous publications include Umeko Tsuda: A Social History and Umeko Tsuda and Those Who Supported (co-editor and author), Umeko Tsuda: Pioneering Women’s Education.

Photo of Dr. TSUCHIYA Motohiro

Dr. TSUCHIYA Motohiro

Dr. TSUCHIYA Motohiro is Vice-President for Global Engagement and Information Technology at Keio University and Professor at Keio University Graduate School of Media and Governance. He served as Dean of Faculty of Policy Management at Keio University from October 2019 to July 2021. He is also serving as guest editorialist of Nikkei since April 2019. He is a member of Japanese government's Cybersecurity Strategic Headquarters. He authored Intelligence and National Security (Tokyo: Keio University Press, 2007, in Japanese), Cyber Terror (Tokyo: Bungeishunju, 2012, in Japanese), Cyber Security and International Relations (Tokyo: Chikura Shobo, 2015, in Japanese), Cyber Great Game (Tokyo: Chikura Shobo, 2020, in Japanese) and co-authored Cybersecurity: Public Sector Threats and Responses (Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2012) and 40 other books. He earned his BA in political science, MA in international relations, and Ph.D. in media and governance from Keio University. He received 15th Nakasone Yasuhiro Award in 2019.

Ex-Office Members:

Photo of Mr. Arima Yutaka

Mr. ARIMA Yutaka

Mr. Arima Yutaka is Assistant Minister (Ambassador), Director-General of North American Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA). After joining MOFA in 1991, Mr. Arima held various positions, including Director of Afghanistan Assistance Planning Division, Director of Second China and Mongolia Division (economic affairs), Director of United Nations Policy Division, Director of First China and Mongolia Division, and Director of Personnel Division. His assignments abroad include Political Officer, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations. He also served as Executive Assistant to Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary from 2005 to 2007. He was appointed as Deputy Director-General of North American Affairs Bureau in 2019, Deputy Director-General of Foreign Policy Bureau in 2021 and Director-General of Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department in 2022, before assuming his current position in August 2023.

Photo of Mr. KANAI Masaaki

Mr. KANAI Masaaki

Mr. KANAI Masaaki is Assistant Minister, Director-General for Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA). After joining MOFA in 1992, KANAI held various positions including Director of Second Middle East Division, Director of Northeast Asia Division, Director of Second Northeast Asia Division and Director of Personnel Division. His assignments abroad include counsellor, Embassy of Japan in the United States. In 2021, he served as Deputy Assistant Minister and Deputy Director-General, North American Affairs Bureau before assuming his current position in July 2022.

Photo of Ms. WATANABE Masami


Mr. WATANABE Masami is Assistant Minister, Director-General for International Affairs at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

After joining the Science and Technology Agency (STA, currently MEXT) in 1990, Mr. Watanabe held various positions including Science Counselor, Embassy of Japan in the USA (2006-2009); Director for Advanced Medical and Radiological Science of the Research Promotion Bureau (RPB); Professor, Assistant to the President for Research Promotion at Nagoya University; Director for Student Support and Exchange Division of the Higher Education Bureau; Director for Promotion Policy Division of the RPB: Deputy Secretary-General, the International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO), Senior Director of the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED).

He also currently serves as the Secretary-General of the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, and as the Co-Chair of the Japan-U.S. Educational Commission (JUSEC).

Mr. Watanabe earned a Master’s degree in Mining Engineering (Economic Geology), Graduate School of Engineering, Kyushu University.


Photo of Mr. ASO Yutaka

Mr. ASO Yutaka

Mr. ASO Yutaka is Chairman of Aso Corporation and Chairman of Aso Cement Co., Ltd.
After graduating from New College, Oxford, U.K. Special Diploma in 1972, he joined Aso Cement Co., Ltd. and was appointed President and CEO and President of Aso Juku Educational Foundation in 1979. He became Chairman of Aso Corporation in 2010, and Chairman of Aso Cement Co., Ltd in 2016.
He held many prominent positions, such as Vice Chairman of Japan Cement Association, President of Educational Corporation Fukuoka Futaba School, Chairman of Kyushu Economic Federation, Vice Chairman of Japan-Korea Economic Association.

Photo of Hon. Amb. KATO Ryozo

Hon. Amb. KATO Ryozo

Ambassador KATO Ryozo was the Ambassador of Japan to the United States of America from September 2001 to July 2008, and is the longest-serving Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. after the W.W.II. Ambassador Kato joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in April 1965 and held several positions in the Ministry such as Director of National Security Affairs Division in the North American Affairs Bureau, Director of Treaties Division in the Treaties Bureau, Deputy Director-General of North American Affairs Bureau, Director-General of Asian Affairs Bureau, Director-General of Foreign Policy Bureau and Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs. As for overseas assignments, Ambassador Kato served four times in the U.S., including his tenure as the Consul-General of Japan in San Francisco and the Ambassador in Washington, D.C. Ambassador Kato also served in Australia and in the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Ambassador Kato served as Commissioner of Nippon Professional Baseball from 2008 to 2013. Since June 2009 to June 2017, he was a Member of the Board of Mitsubishi Corporation, and is currently Advisor to Palace Hotel Tokyo Special Advisor to Central Japan Railway Company and President of Youth For Understanding (YFU JAPAN Inc.). Ambassador Kato received B.A. from the University of Tokyo and LL.M from Yale Law School. He was bestowed upon with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure in recognition of his public service on May 2017. He served as Japan Chair of CULCON from 2015 to March 2023.