Japan Studies

Japan Studies Program
Japan Studies Program
Japan Studies Program

Mount Fuji, Japan's highest and most prominent mountain, located on Honshu Island just west of Tokyo

Kinkakuji "Golden Pavilion" Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, recognised by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site

Ambassador Fujisaki and Japan Studies Professors speaking after March 2011 East Japan Earthquake

Program Activities
Events Calendar
Our Alumni

Follow us on


Japan is changing, both in security and economic affairs, after a generation of drift. The Japan Studies Program, with accomplished scholars, policy-experienced professionals and real-world work opportunities for students, is catching the wave. Johns Hopkins SAIS is one of the few International Relations graduat eprograms to offer a concentration focused specifically on Japan. The Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies, closely affiliated to the program, supports these efforts by conducting policy-relavant research and providing links to Asian Studies in general. 

The Japan Studies Program gives students in-depth knowledge of many facets of Japan and familiarity with Japanese history, politics, society, and foreign policy relations. It designed to provide the students multi-disciplinary understanding of Japan through coursework, seminars and events at the Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies, working with the Reischauer Center Visiting Scholars, research opportunities including publishing, class trips, and internships. The curriculum helps prepare students for careers in business, government, journalism, research, and a variety of other professional fields.

Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae delivers the 2015 Reischauer Memorial Lecture
Japan Studies students in front of the Japanese Diet
Japan Studies professors Brooks and Calder with recent graduates
Japan Studies students take part in a Tea Ceremony
Japan Studies students with Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae
Ambassador Fujisaki with Japan Studies Professors at a recent conference co-hosted with the Japan Economic Foundation
Japan Studies students, faculty and staff meet with the Japan Desk at the U.S. Department of State
The late Senator Inouye delivers a Reischauer Memorial Lecture
Authors of our annual Yearbook on US-Japan relations at the International House of Japan
Yunchin Chiu (Class of 2015) – recipient of the Mitsubishi Fellowship.
Japan Studies students with SAISer and former Japanese Minister of Defense and current member of the Diet Itsunori Onodera
Authors of our annual Yearbook on US-Japan relations
Economic Minister Yamanouchi, Embassy of Japan; Kent Calder, Director of Japan Studies; Paul Sheard, Chief Global Economist of Standard and Poors
Japan Studies students in Tokyo
Show More


Program Activities


Research Opportunities

The Japan Studies Program offers students the opportunity to work with experienced scholars and practitioners in small-group settings. One highlight traditionally has been for students to undertake travel-study and publish their findings in a US-Japan Relations Yearbook, which has a quarter-century tradition and is unique in its field. The volume is circulated, in both English and Japanese, to various institutions including the US Congress, the Japanese Diet, as well as think tanks, universities and experts in both countries.


The Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies

The Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS supports the research and study of transpacific and intra-Asian relations to advance mutual understanding between Northeast Asia and the United States. Among the Reischauer Center's diverse activities are the following: Northeast Asia Political Economy Seminar US-Japan Relations Yearbook Visiting scholar programs US-Japan policy dialogue International conferences Reischauer Memorial Lectures Student summer internships in Japan Student scholarships Asia-Pacific Policy Papers Series Tokyo-Reischauer Group (online transpacific discussion on US-Japan relations) Learn more about the Reischauer Center.


Co-curricular Activities

Japan Studies offers field trips every fall and spring term. Destinations include US-Japan related government such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, business and mass media offices in Washington, DC, and meetings with distinguished alumni.



Japan Studies students have the opportunity to travel to Japan under the auspices of the Reischauer Center Summer Internship Program. Since sending its first intern in 1984, the Center has sent over 100 students to Japan to work in Japanese and American organizations for 10 weeks during the summer. The program allows the interns to cultivate their language proficiency, develop working skills pertinent to their future careers and enhance their cultural understanding.

Students who have sufficient Japanese language skills, a desire to be immersed in a Japanese work environment, and acceptable grades are encouraged to apply for a summer internship.

Successful applicants are given roundtrip tickets to and from Japan, housing, and, in many cases, stipends to defray local expenses. The Center makes all housing arrangements.

Examples of where the students have interned in the past:


  • Kyodo News
  • Mainichi Shimbun

Corporations and financial institutions:

  • American Chamber of Commerce
  • ING Barings
  • Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
  • Toyota
  • Daiwa Securities

Research organizations:

  • Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI)
  • The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ)
  • Japan Center for Economic Research (JCER)
  • Mitsubishi Research Institute
  • Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute (MGSSI)
  • Nomura Research

Government-related institutions:

  • US Embassy in Tokyo
  • Diet Members

    Xuan Wang '14, Interned at Daiwa Securities in summer 2013


Japan Studies provides at least some fellowship support to all its students.


SAIS Japan Club

SAIS Japan Club, run by Japan Studies students, students at the school with an interest in Japan, and Reischauer Center Visiting Sholars, aims at helping students to learn about Japanese language and culture. 

The club holds weekly language table, and other cultural events such as happy hour at Japanese restaurants, cherry blossom picnic, participation in international dinner, movie nights, and karaoke with Georgetown University Japan Club. 




Japan Studies | MA Academic Requirements

Japan Studies Program Learning Goals and Objectives

Entering Class 2016-2017

MA students must take the equivalent of 16 non-language courses (64 credits) in order to graduate. Those students who are approved for dual degree or advanced standing may only need to take 12 courses (48 credits) or 14 courses (56 credits) as approved by Academic Affairs.

Students concentrating in Japan Studies must take at least 4 courses within this program.
Students also must fulfill the general requirements for the field of Asian Studies, that is, an additional 2 Asian Studies courses outside of Japan Studies.
Students in Japan Studies also have the option of pursuing a specialization in the International Relations of Asia (AsiaIR).



Students must complete 4 courses within this program.
·         Microeconomics
·         Macroeconomics (prerequisite or concurrent Microeconomics)
·         International Trade Theory (prerequisite Microeconomics)
·         International Monetary Theory (prerequisite Macroeconomics)
Eligible students who pass the waiver exams in these subjects or who pass Microeconomics in Pre-Term must replace those courses with alternate economics courses. Many students choose to pursue an International Economics Specialization in one of four areas of economics and therefore use electives to meet these requirements. Students may also choose to specialize in Emerging Markets.

Students must receive a 2.67 average in the 4 required economics courses or they must retake a course(s) until a 2.67 average is obtained. If any of the 4 courses are achieved by passing a waiver exam or during Pre-Term, the student must substitute an economics elective course(s) in place of the waived course(s) in order to fulfill the economics requirement above. In this case, SAIS will use the highest economics program elective course grade(s) to compute this average if a student is replacing one or more of the 4 required courses of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory or International Monetary Theory.



Students must complete one course from the list below.
·         Statistical Methods for Business & Economics 
·         Econometrics (prerequisite Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
·         Applied Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
·         Macro Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
·         Risk Analysis and Modeling
·         Quantitative Global Economics (prerequisite International Monetary Theory)
Students may not double-count a Quantitative Reasoning requirement as one of the four required International Economics courses and vice-versa. Eligible students who pass the statistics waiver exam or pass the statistics course in Pre-Term are still required to take an alternate Quantitative Reasoning course from the list above.



All SAIS students must pass 2 core exams and/or courses in addition to their concentration requirements. Japan Studies concentrators must pass Comparative Politics as one of their core requirements prior to the start of their third semester. If the second core is not completed by the start of the final semester, a student must enroll in second core course.
·         American Foreign Policy Since World War II
·         Comparative Politics (old name Comparative National Systems)
·         Evolution of the International Systems
·         Theories of International Relations



Japan Studies MA candidates must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in Japanese. All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering the school. Native Japanese speakers must pass proficiency in a second language which can include English.



Japan Studies MA concentrators must complete ONE of the following capstones:

  1. Japan Studies Oral Exam. The exam provides students with the opportunity to cap their academic experience at the school through discourse with their professors that highlights the findings of their studies and research, particularly the US-Japan Yearbook project. Students will be expected to suggest policy implications for Japan, the US, and the world of the issues discussed. At least two Japan Studies professors will administer the exam. Discussion will focus initially on the specific findings of the student in the Yearbook Project and then branch into broader policy areas. The exam will be graded on a pass-fail basis. Makeup oral exams for students who fail must be scheduled within three weeks of the exam, with the students preparing a three-page paper addressing the areas or issues deemed insufficient by the examiners. Those who fail the makeup exam will not graduate in that term.
  2. MA Oral Exam (to compete for honors—if eligible)


Entering Class 2015-2016
Entering Class 2014-2015
Entering Class 2013-2014
Entering Class 2012-2013
Entering Class 2011-2012
Entering Class 2010-2011
Entering Class 2009-2010


Japan Studies Minor Requirements: (as of AY16/17)

  • 3 Japan Studies or cross-listed courses
  • 2 semesters of Japanese language study or proficiency

General Minor Requirements:

  • Minors are optional (like specializations)
  • A student can minor in only one area
  • A student cannot pursue a minor in International Economics or IR/General, but can pursue a Specialization in International Economics
  • Minors consist of three courses
  • Some minors will have a required course(s)
  • SA student may use a maximum of one cross-listed course (or 4 credits) towards both a minor and concentration. In this case, the minor would require just two additional courses. In the IR or Asia concentrations, the cross-listed course must be from the primary concentration area (e.g., Conflict Management, Global Theory and History, China, Japan, etc.) and not from the two additional required courses across the other IR or Asia areas. Note: IR/General concentrators can always minor in an IR sub-field or approved policy area (Conflict Management, Global Theory and History, International Law and Organizations, International Political Economy, Energy, Resources, and Environment, or Strategic Studies) by taking just two extra courses (8 credits).
  • Regional minors may require language study or proficiency in the language of that region
  • A student can declare a minor at any time—prior to graduation
  • Students who are pursuing a minor in a program will not have bidding priority in that program (only concentrators)

To add or change a minor, please click HERE.


Japan Studies, in collaboration with Reischauer Center, holds weekly public seminars as well as luncheons which the students are invited to. The presentation are given by Japan Studies Professors, Reischauer Center Visiting Scholars, and outside guests (State Department representatives, current and former Ambassadors, University Professors, Researchers from thinktanks, etc) covering diverse topics related to Japan as well as other Asian Countries. 

Our Alumni


Japan Studies alumni have pursued their careers in various organizations and sectors including:

  • US State Department
  • US Department of Energy
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  • Federal Reserve Bank 
  • Goldman Sachs
  • JP Morgan 
  • Newedge, a global multi-asset brokerage
  • NHK, Japan's national public broadcasting organization
  • Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies

... and many more.


The United States and Japan in Global Context

Contact Us

Kent E. Calder
Director of the Japan Studies Program, Director of the Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies
Rome 638

Alexander E. Evans
Research and Program Coordinator, Japan Studies Program and Edwin O. Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies
Rome 617

Address & Phone

Japan Studies
Rome Building
1619 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC