SPF China Observer

Provides analysis of China's politics, economy, society, diplomacy, and security



Tomoko Ako

Professor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo

Born in Osaka in 1971. Professor, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo. She received her Ph.D. in educational sociology from The University of Hong Kong after studying at Osaka University of Foreign Studies and Nagoya University Graduate School. After serving as a researcher at the Embassy of Japan in China and as an associate professor in the School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University, associate professor in Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, and she assumed her present position in 2020. Her research interests include political and social change in modern China, social capital in rural areas, worker migration from rural areas to cities, land and family register system, and trends in intellectuals and civil society. Her works include The Country that Devours its Poor: A Warning from China’s Divided Society (Shincho Sensho, 2014) and Empowered Citizens on the Rise: Where is China Going? The Future of a Superpower 5 (University of Tokyo Press, 2016).

The Xi Jinping Regime’s Attitude Toward Social Movements as Seen from the Peng Shuai Affair2022.03.08
Can we learn from history in the fight against COVID-19? Looking back on East Asia during the Bubonic plague epidemic2020.05.03
Will the Xi Jinping Administration’s Uncompromising Urban Redevelopment Project Succeed? “Urban villages” (villages in the city) = The fate of lawless zones absent of “citizens”-2018.06.12

Asei Ito

Associate professor, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo

Asei ITO is associate professor at the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo. He graduated from Graduate school of Economics, University of Keio, Japan and also studied at the People’s University of China, Beijing as well as Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou during his graduate course. His research covers the Chinese industrial development and related China’s outward FDI activities in Asia. He is the author of Industrial Clusters in Contemporary China: “The Workshop of the World” and A Bottom-up Economic Development (the University of Nagoya Press, 2015, in Japanese) and China Unmanned Aerial System Industry Report 2017: An emerging industry from an emerging economy (the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo, in Japanese), and one of co-editors of China’s Outward Foreign Direct Investment Data (University of Tokyo, 2014, in English) and Understanding Contemporary China: Lecture Series at the University of Tokyo (University of Tokyo Press, 2014, in Japanese). https://aseiito.net

Response of Chinese government bureaucracy to COVID-19: Organizing policy documents released January 20, 2020–April 23, 20202020.04.30

Ichiro Inoue

Professor, Graduate School of Policy Studies, Kwansei Gakuin University

Ichiro Inoue is a professor at the School of Policy Studies, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan. His research focus is on Chinese foreign policy: China’s big power diplomacy, foreign policy making mechanism, crisis behavior, US-China-Japan relations. Prior to assuming his current position, he had worked as a Japanese foreign service officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as at the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. Mr. Inoue received MALD (International Relations) from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University and a B.A. from Kwansei Gakuin University. He had served as a visiting scholar at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University (2019-2020). His recent publications include “Seikenkoutai niokeru Chuugougaikou no Henka to Keizokusei” (Change and Continuity in Chinese Foreign Policy in the case of Leadership Transition), International Relations, No.177, 2014, Japan Association of International Relations, “Gurobalka Jidai no Chuugoku Gaukoubu” (The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the era of Globalization), Asian Studies No.4, Volume 64, 2018, Japan Association of Asian Studies.

Challenges for China Posed by the Ukraine War2022.09.22
China’s Worldview in its Rivalry with the New U.S. Administration2021.07.20
Logic of China’s International Behavior During the COVID-19 Outbreak2020.06.05
China’s Hong Kong Dilemma2020.02.14
Rising tension in the US-China relationship and Taiwan2019.09.24
China’s perception of the external world: Change and continuity in the press conferences on China’s foreign policy at the National People’s Congress2019.05.08
Discussions in China Regarding Xi Jinping’s Major Power Diplomacy2019.01.07
China’s preparation for conflict with the US2018.08.19
Strengthening the Foreign Policy-Making System in the Second Term of the Xi Jinping Administration2018.05.07

Naoko Eto

Professor, Department of Political Science, Gakushuin University

Naoko Eto is professor at the Department of Political Science, Gakushuin University. Her main research interests include contemporary Chinese politics and Japan-China relations. Before taking up her current position, she was an associate senior research fellow at the Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETRO) and a research fellow at the Center for Area Studies, National Institutes for the Humanities (NIHU). She holds an MA in international policy studies from Stanford University and a PhD in political science from Keio University. She was also a visiting research fellow at the School of International Studies, Peking University (2004–2005) and the East Asian Institute, Singapore National University (2019–2020). Her recent publications include Japan in the Context of Chinese Nationalism: The Transformation of “Patriotism” and the Issue of Differing Historical Perspectives (in Japanese, Keiso Shobo, 2014); “Japan-China Strategic Communications Dynamics under the Belt and Road Initiative: The Case of 'Third Country Business Cooperation'” (Asian Perspective, Vol. 45, no.3, Summer 2021).

The Superiority of China’s “New Political Party System” According to the Xi Jinping Regime2022.03.11
China’s Propaganda Maneuvers in Response to COVID-19:The Unified Front Work that Contributes to “the Community of Common Destiny for Mankind” Promotion2020.05.20
Why Does the Xi Jinping Administration Advocate the “Sinicization” of Religion?2018.08.11

Bonji Ohara

Senior Fellow, The Sasakawa Peace Foundation

Graduated from the National Defense Academy of Japan in 1985 and completed his Master’s program (area studies) at the University of Tsukuba in 1998. Joined the Maritime Self‐Defense Forces in 1985 and became a helicopter pilot. Stationed in China between 2003 and 2006 as a naval attaché. Became chief of the intelligence section, MSDF Maritime Staff Office, Ministry of Defense, in 2006 and commanding officer of the 21st Flight Squadron, MSDF, in 2009. Worked at IHS Jane’s from 2011 as an analyst and business development manager and joined The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research in 2013, and became the Director of Policy Research in 2016 before assuming his present position in June 2017. His works include Chugoku no gunji senryaku (China’s Military Strategy), Toyo Keizai Inc., co-author of Magari kado ni tatsu chugoku (China at a Turning Point), NTT Publishing, Beichu shin reisen no makuake (After Sharp Power), Toyo Keizai Inc., and Yoku wakaru gendai chugoku seiji (Contemporary Chinese Politics), Minervashobo.

China’s Intentions from the Perspective of its Defense Budge2020.05.26
The effect of the spread of COVID-19 on the US-China political warfare and the international order”2020.04.07
China’s National Defense White Paper “China’s National Defense in the New Era”2019.08.02
New Cold War Between the US and China: China’s Response2019.04.10
The Meaning of Xi Jinping’s “New Era” from the Standpoint of Security2018.04.10

Yuki Kobayashi

Research Fellow, Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF)

Born in 1972, Kobayashi graduated from the School of Law and Politics at Kwansei Gakuin University. He then joined Kahoku Shimpo, and after working in the editorial department’s economic section, he left the company in 2007. He received a master’s degree in international relations from Sciences Po Strasbourg in 2013, and a master’s degree in public policy from Sciences Po Rennes in 2014. He enrolled in the doctoral course at Mines ParisTech in 2015, earning his Ph.D. in 2019 with his thesis, “The Relationship between Politics and Science in the Crisis Response to the Accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.” He has held his current position since July 2019. His recent articles include “Russia’s Ukraine Invasion and the Protection of Nuclear Plants during War — a First-Time Challenge” in the March, International Information Network Analysis (IINA) of SPF

Observations on Lack of Transparency in China’s Nuclear Arms Expansion: Ahead of the NPT Review Conference2022.08.17

Jun Konno

Associate Professor, Gakushuin Women’s College

Born in Iwate prefecture in 1975. He completed his doctorate course at the Graduate School of Social Sciences, Hitotsubashi University, receiving a Doctor of Sociology. He specializes in Chinese social governance and the justice system. He is the author of Mass mobilization in Chinese society: Political power and the people in Mao’s China.

The Centralization of Power and the Rule of Law in “New Era” China2018.06.11

Kazuyuki Suwa

Professor, School of International Relations, University of Shizuoka

Born in Yamanashi prefecture in 1958. Professor, School of International Relations, University of Shizuoka. Graduated from the Faculty of Foreign Languages, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, in 1986. Joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1986. From 1989-1993 and 2000-2004, he worked at the Embassy of Japan in China, and the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association from 1996-1998. Completed his Master’s program at the Graduate School of Social and Cultural Studies, Nihon University in 2004. He was an assistant professor, School of Language and Culture, Hokkaido University, in 2004, and then associate professor, International Media and Communication Studies, Hokkaido University, in 2007. He has been in his present position since 2008. His works include The Cadre Policy of the Chinese Communist Party-Party and Government Cadres and Nonparty Organizations (Japan Association for Asian Studies, 2004), Chugoku kyosanto kenryoku no kongen (The Roots of Chinese Communist Power), Sanwa Shoseki, 2012, and Standing committee of the National People’s Congress and survival of the Communist Party of China, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization, 2015.

Draw a Clear Line with Putin’s Russia2022.04.21
The CPC’s Centenary: Xi Jinping’s View of the World2021.07.14
Everyone is a hero2020.04.03
Chinese Troubles at “Home” and Abroad - Demonstrations in Hong Kong and US-China Tensions -2019.09.25
Xi Jinping around Trump’s Little Finger ― Cautious attitudes toward the US emerging from the governmental activity report at the National People’s Congress ―2019.04.10
Party and State Institutional Reforms in China and Strengthening Presidential Power2018.12.27
The Convening of the Central Diplomatic Affairs Commission and the Practice of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy2018.08.10
The Myitsone “Dam” Today -China’s peripheral diplomacy as seen from China-Myanmar relations-2018.03.05

Takashi Sekiyama

Associate Professor, GSAIS, Kyoto University

After experiencing policy-making process in the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr.Sekiyama obtained advanced degrees at The University of Tokyo, Peking University, Harvard University, and The University of Hong Kong. In April 2019, he joined Graduate School of Integrated Studies in Human Survivability, Kyoto University. He has actively published numerous papers and books on International Political Economy, which include The Economics of Waste Management in East Asia (Routledge), Rethinking the Triangle: Washington-Beijing-Taipei (World Scientific Publishing), and Coordination & Compromise: Regimes Where Countries Agree in General but Disagree on Details (Lambert).

The high mortality rate of COVID-19 and the collapse of the medical system in Wuhan as demonstrated by data2020.04.10
Why Is Economic Interdependence Unable to Halt the US-China conflict?2019.08.16

Akio Takahara

Professor of Contemporary Chinese Politics at the Graduate School of Law and Politics and the Graduate School of Public Policy at The University of Tokyo.

He received his DPhil in 1988 from Sussex University, and later spent several years as Visiting Scholar at the Consulate-General of Japan in Hong Kong, the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, Harvard University, Peking University, and at the Mercator Institute for China Studies. Before joining The University of Tokyo, he taught at J. F. Oberlin University and Rikkyo University. He served as President of the Japan Association for Asian Studies, and as the Secretary General of the New Japan-China Friendship 21st Century Committee. He currently serves as Senior Adjunct Fellow of the Japan Institute of International Affairs, Distinguished Research Fellow of the Japan Forum on International Relations and Director of JICA Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and Development. His publications include The Politics of Wage Policy in Post-Revolutionary China, (Macmillan, 1992), and Japan-China Relations in the Modern Era, (co-authored, Routledge, 2017).

Osamu Tanaka

Inter-disciplinary Studies Center Chief Senior Researcher, the Institute of Developing Economies, JETRO

Dr. Tanka holds a Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Tokyo. He specializes in the modern Chinese economy and macroeconomic policy of China. Born in Tokyo, 1958. Graduated from the Faculty of Law, The University of Tokyo, in 1982 and joined the Ministry of Finance. He was first secretary and councilor in the Office of Economics at the Japanese embassy in Beijing from 1996 to 2000. After returning to Japan, became a budget examiner in the Budget Bureau, Ministry of Finance; professor in the Department of Economics of Shinshu University; counselor in the Cabinet Office; and visiting professor at the University of Tokyo. He was the vice President at the Policy Research Institute, Ministry of Finance from 2010, and then president of the National Tax College from June 2016. Retired in October 2017. That same month, he became a Senior Research Fellow at the Policy Research Institute, Ministry of Finance (Special Advisor for China Research). Has currently served in his present position since December 2018.

Trends in China’s Macroeconomic Policy2022.12.01
COVID-19 and Chinese Economy2020.05.08
The Reality of the Chinese economy Based on the Indices2019.09.05
China’s Macroeconomic Policy in 2019 as Seen in the Government Work Report2019.04.03
Current Status of the Chinese Economy—December 2018—2018.12.27
The Current State of the Chinese Economy2018.08.12
Xi Jinping Economic Thought and Economic Policy in 20182018.03.05