The U.S.-Japan Alliance and the Power of International Law

The U.S.-Japan alliance has been hailed as the “cornerstone” of peace in the Pacific. The alliance relationship has been strengthened and institutionalized over the years. However, there is a considerable gap between the two countries in their understandings of concepts such as use of force and the right of collective self-defense. This is problematic: the continuation of the gap may lead to wrong expectations at both diplomatic and operational levels and weaken the alliance in the future.

This workshop is an attempt to bring together experts from the United States and Japan to discuss how the two countries can address this gap and seek ways in which the two countries can utilize international law as the common language of diplomacy. With experts from fields of international law and political science, we will discuss conceptual issues as well as specific regional concerns and new domains such as cyberspace and outer space.

Co-sponsored by

Center for Japanese Legal Studies, Columbia University

National Security Law Program, Columbia University

National Defense Academy of Japan


Strengthening the U.S.-Japan Alliance: Pathways for Bridging Law and Policy, published by the Center for Japanese Legal Studies and National Security Law Program, expands on the topics covered in the workshop. 



Michael J. Adams, Commander (ret.), U.S. Navy
Takako Hikotani, Columbia University
Nobuhisa Ishizuka, Columbia University
James Kraska, U.S. Naval War College
Julian Ku, Hofstra University
Masahiro Kurosaki, National Defense Academy of Japan
Thomas H. Lee, Fordham University
Hitoshi Nasu, Exeter University
Ryan Scoville, Marquette University
Kazuto Suzuki, Hokkaido University
Hideshi Tokuchi, National Defense Academy of Japan / Former Vice Minister of Defense for International Affairs, Ministry of Defense of Japan
Matthew C. Waxman, Columbia University


Kenneth McElwainUniversity of Tokyo / Oxford University
Yusuke SaitoNaval War College
Daniel SmithHarvard University


Day 1

Opening Remarks

  • Nobuhisa Ishizuka

U.S.-Japan Alliance in the Taiwan Crisis: Problem Presentation

  • Julian Ku
  • James Kraska
  • Hideshi Tokuchi

Lunch at Faculty House

Lunch Keynote Address: “The Current State of the US-Japan Alliance”

  • Ambassador Shinsuke Sugiyama (Japanese Ambassador to the United States)

Coffee Break

Taiwan Crisis, the U.S. and Japan at the International Level

  • Matthew Waxman
  • Thomas H. Lee
  • Masahiro Kurosaki
  • Hitoshi Nasu

Day 2

Taiwan Crisis, Japan and the U.S. at the Domestic Level

  • Takako Hikotani
  • Masahiro Kurosaki
  • Ryan Scoville
  • Matthew C. Waxman


Taiwan Crisis and Multi-Domain Operations

  • Michael J. Adams
  • Kazuto Suzuki

Discussion about publication (Working Paper Series)


Project Leaders

Masahiro Kurosaki

Masahiro Kurosaki is an Associate Professor of International Law and the Director of the Study of Law, Security and Military Operations at the National Defense Academy of Japan Ministry of Defense. In this capacity, he has also been active as a legal adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan sometimes representing the Japanese government in diplomatic negotiations on international human rights and humanitarian law. He has published a range of articles and book chapters on the law of international security, the law of armed conflict, international criminal law, and Japanese security laws, which include: “Toward the Special Computer Law of Targeting: ‘Fully Autonomous’ Weapons Systems and the Proportionality Test,’ in Claus Kress and Robert Lawless (eds.), Necessity and Proportionality in International Peace and Security Law (Oxford University Press, 2020 forthcoming). “The ‘Bloody Nose’ Strategy, Self-Defense and International Law: A View from Japan,” Lawfare, February 15, 2018; “The Fight against Impunity for Core International Crimes: Reflections on the Contribution of Networked Experts to a Regime of Aggravated State Responsibility,” Holly Cullen, Joanna Harrington, and Catherin Renshaw (eds.), Experts, Networks and International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Matthew Waxman

Matthew C. Waxman is the Liviu Librescu Professor of Law and the faculty chair of the National Security Law Program.

Waxman is an expert in national security law and international law, including issues related to executive power; international human rights and constitutional rights; military force and armed conflict; and terrorism. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter and Judge Joel M. Flaum of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Before joining the the Law School faculty, he served in senior positions at the State Department, the Department of Defense, and the National Security Council. Waxman was a Fulbright Scholar to the United Kingdom, where he studied international relations and military history. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, where he also serves as Adjunct Senior Fellow for Law and Foreign Policy, and he is the co-chair of the Cybersecurity Center at the Columbia Data Science Institute.

He holds a J.D. from Yale Law School.

2019 Workshop Participants

(in alphabetical order)

Michael J Adams

Mike is Chief Counsel to the Chief Operating and Chief Information Security Officers at Zoom Video Communications. He previously served as Special Adviser to the Judge Advocate General for International and Operational Law and as Deputy Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he advised Chairmen Dempsey and Dunford and the Joint Staff on matters of international and national security law affecting military operations, including the law of armed conflict and cyberspace, intelligence, special operations, maritime, and other U.S. Department of Defense activities and technologies.  He is a graduate of Harvard Law School (LL.M), Georgetown University Law Center (J.D.), and the United States Naval Academy (B.S.).

James Kraska

James Kraska is the Charles H. Stockton Professor of International Maritime Law in the Stockton Center for International Law at U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. In 2017 and 2018 he served as a Visiting Professor of Law and John Harvey Gregory Lecturer on World Organization at Harvard Law School, where he taught International Law of the Sea.

He is also Distinguished Fellow at the Law of the Sea Institute, University of California Berkeley School of Law and Senior Fellow at the Center for Oceans Law and Policy at the University of Virginia School of Law, Honorary Visiting Professor of Law at Gujarat National Law University, and a Lifetime Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Previously he was Mary Derrickson McCurdy Visiting Scholar at Duke University and Office of the Chief of Naval Research Fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He has written numerous scholarly articles and books, including Maritime Power and Law of the Sea (Oxford), which won the Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement; Arctic Security in an Age of Climate Change (Cambridge); and The Free Sea: The American Fight for Freedom of Navigation(with Raul Pedrozo, Naval Institute). Professor Kraska served as an officer and lawyer in the U.S. Navy, where he was Director of International Negotiations on The Joint Staff.

Julian Ku

Professor Ku’s primary research interest is the relationship of international law to constitutional law. He has also conducted academic research on a wide range of topics including international dispute resolution, international criminal law, and China’s relationship with international law. He teaches courses such as U.S. constitutional law, U.S. foreign affairs law, transnational law, and international trade and business law. Since 2014, he has served as the faculty director of international programs, overseeing Hofstra Law’s study abroad, exchange and LL.M. programs. Professor Ku also teaches Constitutional Law in our online degree programs: Master of Laws in American Law and Master of Arts in American Legal Studies. He has also been selected as the John DeWitt Gregory Research Scholar and as a Hofstra Law Research Fellow. He is a member of the American Law Institute.

He is the co-author, with John Yoo, of Taming Globalization: International Law, the U.S. Constitution, and the New World Order (Oxford University Press 2012). He also has published more than 40 law review articles, book chapters, symposia contributions, and essays. He has given dozens of academic lectures and workshops at major universities and conferences in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Thomas Lee

Thomas Lee teaches and writes in the fields of international law, international commercial and investor-state arbitration, comparative and U.S. constitutional law, civil procedure, legal history, and U.S. federal courts and jurisdiction.  He has also taught International Trade Law and Telecommunications Law and Data Privacy, and seminars on Asian Americans and the Law (with Judge Denny Chin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit), Civil Law and Common Law, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Professor Lee has been a Visiting Professor at Columbia Law School (2017-18, 2005-6), Harvard Law School (2012-13), and the University of Virginia School of Law (2007); and an Adviser to the Constitutional Court of Korea (2006-12).

Before joining Fordham in 2002, Professor Lee clerked for Judge Michael Boudin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and for Justice David Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court, and practiced with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and Munger, Tolles & Olson.  From 1991 to 1995, he served as a U.S. naval signals-intelligence officer deployed at sea in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans and ashore in Korea and Japan and with the National Security Agency.  He is a graduate of Harvard College and Law School, where he was Articles Chair of the Law Review.

Hitoshi Nasu

Professor Hitoshi Nasu has joined the Exeter Law School in January 2018. Prior to his current appointment, he held academic posts at the Australian National University, where he was also Co-Director of the Centre for Military and Security Law and the Australian Network for Japanese Law, and was a visiting research fellow at the Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore.

His expertise extends to a wide range of international security law issues including peacekeeping, the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the responsibility to protect, human security, the protection of state secrets on national security grounds, regional security in the Asia-Pacific, disaster relief and management, security institutions and international rule of law, and new technologies and the law of armed conflict, with over 60 scholarly publications.

He led and completed several major funded projects, including the legal regulation of military and security applications of nanotechnology (Australian Research Council, Project ID: DP110102637) and the legal analysis of regional security institutions in the Asia-Pacific (Australian Research Council, Project ID: DP130103683). He also served as a member of the International Law Association’s Study Group on Cyber Terrorism and International Law (2014- 2016) and is a core expert of the Woomera Manual on International Law Applicable to Conflict in Outer Space.

Ryan Scoville

Professor Scoville teaches and writes on U.S. foreign relations law and international law. He is a Fulbright grant recipient, a periodic contributor at Lawfare, and a managing editor for AJIL Unbound, the online companion to the American Journal of International Law. Before entering academia, he worked as a litigation associate in the Denver and Tokyo offices of the law firm of Morrison & Foerster, and served as a law clerk for Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Judge Neil V. Wake of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. He also worked briefly at the Arms Control Association and the Defense Department's Office of the General Counsel (International Affairs).

Professor Scoville holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School, where he was an executive editor for the Stanford Law Review, and a B.A. in International Studies from Brigham Young University, where he was the valedictorian. He speaks Japanese (JLPT N2).

Kazuto Suzuki

Kazuto Suzuki is Vice Dean and Professor of International Politics at Public Policy School of Hokkaido University, Japan.  He graduated Department of International Relations, Ritsumeikan University, and received Ph.D. from Sussex European Institute, University of Sussex, England.  He has worked in the Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique in Paris, France as assistant researcher and the Associate Professor at the University of Tsukuba from 2000 to 2008, and moved to Hokkaido University.  He also spent one year at Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University from 2012 to 2013 as visiting researcher.  He served as an expert in the Panel of Experts for Iranian Sanction Committee under the United Nations Security Council from 2013 to July 2015.  He has contributed to the drafting the Basic Space Law of Japan, and serves as a member of Sub-committees of industrial policy and space security policy of National Space Policy Commission.  His recent work includes Space and International Politics (2011, in Japanese, awarded Suntory Prize for Social Sciences and Humanities), Policy Logics and Institutions of European Space Collaboration (2003) and many others.

Hideshi Tokuchi

Mr. Hideshi Tokuchi joined Sasakawa USA in September 2016 following a 36-year career of service to the government of Japan, most recently as the nation’s first Vice-Minister of Defense for International Affairs.

Tokuchi joined the Japanese Defense Agency (the predecessor of the Ministry of Defense) of Japan in 1979 as a civilian and retired from public service on October 1, 2015, after completing several senior assignments at the Ministry of Defense, including as Director-General of the Operations Bureau, of the Personnel and Education Bureau, of the Finance and Equipment Bureau, and most recently of the Defense Policy Bureau.

During most of his service, Tokuchi focused on Japan-U.S. defense cooperation, security-related legislation, defense buildup programs, and operations of the Japanese Defense Forces. He participated in the review work of “Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation” twice (in 1997 and 2015), and in the establishment of “National Defense Program Guidelines” twice (in 2004 and 2013), and also in security-related legislation, including Peace-Keeping Operations Law, a set of legislation to deal with contingency, Counter-Piracy Law, and most recently the new security legislation to put the new interpretation of the Japanese Constitution into practice.

Tokuchi received his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Tokyo in 1979, and received a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy (M.A.L.D.) degree at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1986.


Kenneth Mcelwain

Kenneth Mori McElwain is Associate Professor at the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo. He is currently Visiting Fellow, St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. His research focuses on comparative political institutions, most recently on differences in constitutional content across countries. He received his BA from Princeton University and PhD in political science from Stanford University, and previously taught at the University of Michigan, before moving to his current post in 2015. His work has been published in a number of journals and edited volumes, including American Journal of Political Science, Journal of East Asian StudiesSocial Science Japan, and the Journal of Japanese Studies

Yusuke Saito

Yusuke Saito is a commander and legal advisor in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). He has served on five ships including Japanese BMD AEGIS ship DDG Kirishima. Ashore he served as staff of International Liaison Office, Maritime Staff Office and as a researcher for Operational Law Office in the JMSDF Command and Staff College. He most recently served as a researcher at the Center for a New American Security from 2016 to 2017 in Washington D.C. He graduated from the National Defense Academy of Japan in 2004 and the master's program of Foreign Service from Georgetown University in 2018.

Daniel Smith

Daniel M. Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of Government at Harvard University and is also affiliated with the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, and the Institute for Quantitative Social Science.
His research area is comparative politics, with a focus on elections, electoral systems, political parties, and voter behavior in Japan and other democracies. He is the author of Dynasties and Democracy: The Inherited Incumbency Advantage in Japan (Stanford University Press, 2018) and co-editor of Japan Decides 2017: The Japanese General Election (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), as well as numerous articles and book chapters on Japanese and comparative politics. Prior to coming to Harvard in 2013, Professor Smith was a postdoctoral fellow at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center Stanford University. His Ph.D. (2012) and M.A. (2009) in Political Science are from the University of California, San Diego, and his B.A. (2005) in Political Science and Italian is from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Columbia University Co-Coordinators

Nobuhisa Ishizuka

Nobuhisa Ishizuka is Lecturer in Law and Executive Director of the Center for Japanese Legal Studies at Columbia Law School which, aided by the U.S.'s premier collection of Japanese legal materials, has actively promoted research on Japanese law for over 38 years.  He oversees the Center's programming and strategy and promotes scholarly exchanges between faculty, students and practitioners.  His research and teaching interests include international comparative law, East Asian security and the Japanese constitution.  He has published in Columbia Law ReviewCommercial Law Review, and other legal publications.

Prior to joining Columbia Law School, he was a Partner of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.  Mr. Ishizuka has been regularly recognized as a leading individual in Chambers Asia-Pacific and Chambers Global, and as a leading lawyer in IFLR1000: The Guide to the World’s Leading Financial Law FirmsAsia Pacific Legal 500 and Best Lawyers in Japan

Mr. Ishizuka has a B.A. from Columbia College and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was a Senior Editor of the Columbia Law Review.  He was a graduate research student and currently lectures on international business transactions at the University of Tokyo.  He is a member of the Board of Visitors at Columbia Law School and the Board of Visitors of Columbia College, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a past member of the Board of Directors of the Japanese American Association of New York.

Mr. Ishizuka is a member of the New York and Washington D.C. Bars.

Takako Hikotani

Takako Hikotani is Gerald L. Curtis Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy. She previously taught at the National Defense Academy of Japan, where she was Associate Professor, and lectured at the Ground Self Defense Force and Air Self Defense Force Staff Colleges, and the National Institute for Defense Studies. Her research focus on civil-military relations and Japanese domestic politics, Japanese foreign policy, and comparative civil-military relations. Her publications (in English) include, “The Japanese Diet and defense policy-making.” International Affairs, 94:1, July, 2018; “Trump’s Gift to Japan: Time for Tokyo to Invest in the Liberal Order,” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2017; and “Japan’s New Executive Leadership: How Electoral Rules Make Japanese Security Policy" (with Margarita Estevez-Abe and Toshio Nagahisa), in Frances Rosenbluth and Masaru Kohno eds, Japan in the World (Yale University Press, 2009). She was a Visiting Professional Specialist at Princeton University as Social Science Research Council/Abe Fellow (2010-2011) and Fellow of the US-Japan Leadership Program, US-Japan Foundation (2000- ).