Introduction to the SSU

The Security Studies Unit (SSU) of the Policy Alternatives Research Institute (PARI) was established in 2008 in the awareness of a pressing number of issues concerning the future of security in the East Asian region and its institutionalization, the reciprocal relations between security and economic interdependence, the rise of new conceptualizations of security and the examination of the related political processes. SSU produces academic research and policy proposals on these topics, by means of international joint research activities with other academic institutions, for the advancement of mutual understanding between international actors, and for the dissemination in the general public of information and ideas about international political issues both inside and outside of Japan, with the support of several foundations in Japan and the U.S.

SSU has performed numerous activities, including hosting international joint research and international conferences, focusing in particular on relation between economy and security, the security structure of North-East Asia, the deepening the Japan-US alliance, the search for a way to enhance multilateral security cooperation, the strengthening of nuclear non-proliferation, and the formulation of a new concept of security.


There are numerous projects that the SSU has been actively working on, which are listed and briefly described as follows:

The MOFA Project:

SSU is currently focusing on a large scale project financed by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) entitled "The Diversification of Risk in International Society and New Dimensions of Security/Foreign Policy" which was launched in April 2015. There is currently a strong need to define the issue of security from a new dimension. This new approach takes into consideration the ways and means of "risk approach" as risks in international society has diversified in the 21st century. This project, therefore, plans to explore the field of space, nuclear, and cyber individually as well as the complex interaction between the three policy areas and will try to propose a comprehensive counter-measure as well as build a cross-cutting network of experts to further revitalize discussions.

For more information, see here

The MacArthur Project

In order to both clarifying the relationship between economy and security and to examining the security structure in East Asia, SSU conducts joint research, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, with international conflict research centers at University of California, San Diego (U.S.) and the Graduate School of International Studies, Yonsei University (South Korea). SSU has conducted joint research from 2009 to 2011, including two workshops in Tokyo, and planned and organized a training session for junior officials from each country. It has also invited public officials, including politicians from Japan, China, and South Korea, to a series of closed meetings in 2010 with the goal of sharing research outcomes. The final research outcome report was published by Routledge (U.S. branch) in December 2012, under the title “The Economy-Security Nexus in Northeast Asia” (edited by T.J. Pempel).

Five Universities Network Project

The “Five Universities Network Project” (The University of Tokyo, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, Peking University, Korea University, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at National University of Singapore) works on both examining the security structure of North East Asia, and the deepening the Japan-US alliance, while searching for ways to improve multilateral security cooperation.

Indeed, the PARI institute has achieved a leading position in terms of research liaison activities within the Graduate School of Public Policy at The University of Tokyo. The institute has hosted a large international conference in Tokyo in 2011. At the same time, it also held a public forum aiming at reviewing international cooperation in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, where the issue of cooperation was discussed in English with guest speakers including key persons from the Japanese government and other workshop participants.

Maritime Security Project

SSU has contributed to the formulation of options concerning national security as suggested by the University of Tokyo to the Japanese government during the revision of the ‘maritime basic plan’ in 2012, this being considered as one of the activities for the enhancement of the Japan-US alliance and for the improvement of multilateral security cooperation.

Besides, SSU has hosted an international conference in March 2013 discussing the rise of China and its maritime expansion, and the ways to cope with geopolitical tensions around the Senkaku islands area. The institute invited researchers and officials from both Japan and overseas in order to discuss current maritime security problems, stretching from international and economic cooperation on maritime security to power shift theory. SSU has also hosted a follow-up workshop on maritime issues in August 2013, focusing on ways to achieve peace and stability in the East China Sea, with a special focus on fishery agreements. (The report on the February conference can be found here: note that the report is in Japanese.) The workshop aimed to provide alternative means for a breakthrough among concerned countries in the region by enhancing cooperation through Fishery Agreements and/or joint control of energy resources. (The report on the August conference can be found here: note that the report is in Japanese.)

Hiroshima Process Project

Professor Fujiwara, together with Professor G. John Ikenberry of Princeton University has been contributing to the Hiroshima Roundtable hosted by Hiroshima Prefecture, which is a meeting of experts on the issue of nuclear disarmament and nonprolifeartion. Professor Fujiwara has been working closely with experts such as Honourable Yasushi Akasi, former United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Honourable Sadako Ogata, former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees/former Director of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and Honourable Gareth Evans, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia to enhance peace and security through specific proposals toward nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Professors Fujiwara and Ikenberry have been continuously taking the initiative on this so-called "Hiroshima Process".

New Security Project

Professor Fujiwara has developed his research and his international networking activities predominantly on the issue of expanding the concept of security and analyzing the selection and avoidance of risks. This project was designed by the International Alliance of Research Universities (Australia National University, the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, Yale University, the University of California Berkeley, the University of Copenhagen, Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, Singapore National University, Peking University, and the University of Tokyo) under the initiative of the former President of the University of Tokyo, Hiroshi Komiyama. As a consequence of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Policy Alternatives Research institute has recognized the necessity of developing a new concept of security, and this research project on politics concerning risks and management, in cooperation with other research units, such as the Complex Risk Governance Unit, represents a response to this concern.

East Asian International Politics

This research project was financed by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for two fiscal years (2013-2014) and aimed at re-assessing Japan's international political situation against the background of a rapidly changing environment in the East Asian region. The project was based on two parts. The first one considered the influence exerted on international politics by domestic political discourses shaping mutual perceptions in East Asia, nor only among cultural elites, but also considering the role of public opinion, which is growing even in the context of authoritarian regimes.

The second part focused on the role of nuclear arms reduction (disarmament) in easing international tensions (dtente), assessing Japan's efforts for the promotion of disarmament and suggesting possible adjustment to current policies.

For more information, see East Asian International Politics.