Experts

Sheila A. Smith

Senior Fellow for Japan Studies

Programs

About the Expert

Expert Bio

Sheila A. Smith is senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). An expert on Japanese politics and foreign policy, she is the author of Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military PowerIntimate Rivals: Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China (released in Japanese as 日中 親愛なる宿敵: 変容する日本政治と対中政策), and Japan's New Politics and the U.S.-Japan Alliance. She is also the author of the CFR interactive guide Constitutional Change in Japan. Smith is a regular contributor to the CFR blog Asia Unbound and a frequent contributor to major media outlets in the United States and Asia.

Smith joined CFR from the East-West Center in 2007, where she directed a multinational research team in a cross-national study of the domestic politics of the U.S. military presence in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines. She was a visiting scholar at Keio University in 2007-08, where she researched Japan’s foreign policy towards China, supported by the Abe Fellowship. Smith has been a visiting researcher at two leading Japanese foreign and security policy think tanks, the Japan Institute of International Affairs and the Research Institute for Peace and Security, and at the University of Tokyo and the University of the Ryukyus.

Smith is chair of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) and the U.S. advisors to the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON), a binational advisory panel of government officials and private-sector members. She teaches as an adjunct professor at the Asian studies department of Georgetown University and serves on the board of its Journal of Asian Affairs. She also serves on the advisory committee for the U.S.-Japan Network for the Future program of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation.

Smith earned her MA and PhD from the political science department at Columbia University.

Affiliations: 

  • CULCON/Japan-United States Friendship Commission, vice chair
  • Georgetown University, adjunct professor
  • Mansfield Foundation U.S.-Japan Next Generation Leaders Program, senior advisor

 

Current Projects

 

Project

 

Project
  • China

    The risks of conflict between the United States and China are real and growing. This situation has left the U.S.-China relationship in a precarious place that will require delicate diplomacy in order to manage intensifying competition while preventing conflict. Panelists discuss “Major Power Rivalry in East Asia,” a paper by Evan S. Medeiros in the Managing Global Disorder discussion paper series, on how U.S. and Chinese policymakers should revitalize existing tools and build new ones to manage an increasingly militarized competition. Additional Resources For further reading, please see CPA's Managing Global Disorder series.
  •  

    Sheila Smith discusses the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance in today's global political environment, including insight into shifts in Japanese defense capability since the security pact was signed, as well as changes in Japan’s position as a regional and global power.  The CFR Master Class Series is a biweekly 45-minute session hosted by Vice President and Deputy Director for Studies Shannon O’Neil in which a CFR fellow will take a step back from the news and discuss the fundamentals essential to understanding a given country, region of the world, or issue pertaining to U.S. foreign policy or international relations.
  • Coronavirus

    Panelists discuss the effects of the coronavirus across Asia, including lockdowns, economic challenges, and prospects for recovery.
  • Japan

  • Japan

    Sheila A. Smith discusses her new book, Japan Rearmed: The Politics of Military Power.
  • North Korea

    Panelists discuss the threats posed by a nuclear North Korea and the Trump-Kim summit meeting.
  • North Korea

    With the recent Inter-Korean Summit, U.S.-China trade disagreements, and unrest in much of the region, the balance of power in Asia continues to be in a state of flux.
  • North Korea

    As part of the 2018 College and University Educators Workshop, Patricia M. Kim, Gary Samore, and Sheila A. Smith speak with Mitchel B. Wallerstein about the threats posed by a nuclear North Korea and prospects for a Trump-Kim summit meeting. 
  • Donald Trump

  • Asia

    Experts discuss the rise of China and the U.S.-Japan alliance.
  • Asia

    Experts discuss the economics of Asia in the context of the U.S.-Japan relationship.
  • Asia

    Following the agreement reached on the Trans-Pacific Partnership by the United States and eleven other countries, Council on Foreign Relations experts assessed the trade deal’s consequences for the global trade regime, geopolitics, and the international economy.
  • Japan

  • Japan

    Experts discuss the leadership style, personality, and policies of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
  • Japan

  • Asia

    Experts discuss the U.S. alliance system in East Asia.
  • Asia

    Experts discuss the foreign policy priorities of recently elected leaders in Asia.
  • Asia

    CFR Senior Fellow Sheila A. Smith introduces her new book, Intimate Rivals: Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China.
  • Asia

    CFR Senior Fellow Sheila A. Smith joins CFR President Richard N. Haass to introduce her new book, Intimate Rivals: Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China.
  • North Korea

    Bonnie S. Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and CFR Senior Fellow Sheila A. Smith join Marcus Noland, executive vice president and director of studies at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, to discuss Chinese and Japanese perceptions towards North Korea since the death of Kim Jong-il.
  • Disasters

  • United States

    This workshop was cosponsored by Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Asahi-Shimbun. It took place in Washington, DC.Widely acclaimed as the most respected and credible source of news in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, the Asahi Shimbun is one of Japan's oldest and largest national newspapers, with a daily circulation of over eight million. Based in Tokyo, its overseas network includes five general bureaus covering America from Washington DC, Europe from London, the Middle East from Cairo, Asia from Bangkok, and China from Beijing, with an additional bureau newly opened in Havana, Cuba, in 2007. It has a presence in about 30 locations worldwide with 53 correspondents. The company has a news website, Asahi.com.This event has also been made possible by the generosity of the following corporate sponsors of CFR's Japan program: Canon USA, Mitsui & Company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Mitsubishi International Corporation, Sony Corporation of America, and Toyota Motor North America. Sessions: The United States and Japan at 50: Remarks by Yoichi Funabashi Speaker: Yoichi Funabashi, Editor-in-Chief, The Asahi ShimbunPresider: Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations Where We Are Today Panelists: Yoshihide Soeya, Director, Institute of East Asian Studies, and Professor of Political Science, Keio UniversityEdward Alden, Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign RelationsSheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign RelationsYoichi Kato, National Security Correspondent, The Asahi Shimbun New Opportunities, New Synergies, New Challenges Panelists: Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten, Inc.Fumihiko Yoshida, Editorial Writer, The Asahi Shimbun and Lecturer, Princeton UniversitySebastian Mallaby, Director, Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, and Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics, Council on Foreign RelationsPresider: Sheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign Relations Keynote Address Speaker: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
  • China

  • Defense and Security

    This symposium was cosponsored by Council on Foreign Relations and the Asahi-Shimbun. Widely acclaimed as the most respected and credible source of news in Japan and the Asia-Pacific region, the Asahi Shimbun is one of Japan's oldest and largest national newspapers, with a daily circulation of over eight million. Based in Tokyo, its overseas network includes five general bureaus covering America from Washington DC, Europe from London, the Middle East from Cairo, Asia from Bangkok, and China from Beijing, with an additional bureau newly opened in Havana, Cuba, in 2007. It has a presence in about 30 locations worldwide with 53 correspondents. The company also broadcasts nationwide in Japan via TV Asahi and has a news website, Asahi.com. This event has also been made possible by the generosity of the following corporate sponsors of CFR's Japan program: Canon USA, Mitsui & Company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Mitsubishi International Corporation, Sony Corporation of America, and Toyota Motor North America. Symposium Summary Report (PDF, 148K) Sessions: Global Transformations and the U.S.-Japan Partnership Introductory Speaker: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign RelationsPanelists: Tanaka Akihiko, Professor of International Politics, Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies and Institute of Oriental Culture, University of TokyoMichael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, and Director, Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign RelationsSheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign RelationsPresider: Funabashi Yoichi, Editor-in-Chief, Asahi Shimbun The Global Economy-Instabilities and Reforms Panelists: Takenaka Heizo, Professor and Director, Global Security Research Institute, Keio UniversityRoger M. Kubarych, Henry Kaufman Adjunct Senior Fellow for International Economics and Finance, Council on Foreign RelationsBenn Steil, Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign RelationsPresider: Paul Sheard, Former Global Chief Economist, Lehman Brothers Ensuring Stability in Northeast Asia Panelists: Elizabeth C. Economy, C. V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies, Council on Foreign RelationsTanaka Hitoshi, Senior Fellow, Japan Center for International ExchangeGary Samore, Vice President and Director of Studies, Council on Foreign RelationsSheila A. Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies, Council on Foreign RelationsPresider: Evans J.R. Revere, President, Korea Society