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Japan’s Foreign Policy and International Law

The Yale MacMillan Center Council on East Asian Studies and the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs will co-host a talk by H.E. Shinsuke Sugiyama, Japanese ambassador to the U.S. Amb. Sugiyama will discuss Japan’s foreign policy and international law.Since its modernization in 19th century, Japan has shown respect for the importance of international law, except for a fifteen-year period of aggression. Outside of the span of time between 1931 and 1945, Japan’s foreign policy has been heavily founded on concepts of international law for most of its history. In fact, this influence is one of the key reasons why Japan succeeded in both its efforts to rapidly modernize, as well as its remarkable postwar restoration. At the same time, the importance that Japan places on international law creates limits around Japan’s foreign policy. In this lecture, Ambassador Shinsuke J. Sugiyama, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the United States of America, discusses Japan’s foreign policy, highlighting both its historical and legal perspectives.Ambassador Sugiyama presented his credentials as Ambassador to the United States in March 2018. His diplomatic career with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spans over 40 years. He most recently served as Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs. Previous positions include Deputy Director-General of the Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau as well as the International Cooperation Bureau; Director-General for Global Issues, including Ambassador for Climate Change; and Director-General of the Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.Ambassador Sugiyama has also held leadership positions within the Foreign Policy Bureau and Treaties Bureau of MOFA. His overseas assignments have included multiple positions at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC; Political Minister at the Embassy of Japan in Korea and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Japan in Egypt. He entered MOFA in 1977.Ambassador Sugiyama studied at Waseda University in Japan and Oxford University in the UK. He has taught international law for many years at the law faculty of Waseda University, as well as at many other schools in Japan and overseas, and has written numerous law articles, edited books on international law, and served as a member of the editing committee of the international law journal issued by the International Law Association of Japan.