The National Defense Academy is based in Yokosuka

The National Defense Academy, Yokosuka (Source: MoD)

According to Kyodo, Ryosei Kokubun of Keio University is lined up to replace Makoto Iokibe as president of Boeidai (the National Defense Academy) at the start of the new academic year in April. From the Kyodo release as published on the Japan Times website:

Kokubun, who turns 58 on Tuesday, is known to be well-versed in East Asian politics and foreign affairs, and has served as a member of a friendship committee of Japanese and Chinese academics and experts as well as the president of the Japan Association of International Relations.

The government plans to appoint Kokubun to the top post of the academy, which trains future senior Self-Defense Forces officers, likely due to his knowledge about China, which has been increasing its presence through its growing military might, the sources said.

Kokubun is a Keio thoroughbred, completing both his undergraduate and post-graduate studies in the university’s Division of Law, is currently the editor of The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies and has several major publications covering Sino-Japanese relations.

After googling his name and browsing through the kinds of books he edits and other such available details, he comes across as thoroughly academic and level-headed, and would seem to be an excellent choice for bringing balance to the traditional conservative view of China picked up by the ranks of the Boeidai. With Kokubun, there seems to be room for a constructive relationship with China, a welcome perspective indeed.

With Boeidai graduates typically rising to the SDF’s top positions, it is possible that Kokubun will have a significant role in the shaping of the views of SDF officers towards China not simply over the length of his tenure, but far beyond across the careers of those who pass through his institution.

Readers of JSW, have you read any of Kokubun’s articles, books, etc? Have an opinion you want to share? Let us know in the comments.

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch