Senior Research Fellow, Asia Programme
John Nilsson-Wright
Contact information
+44 (0)7590 194 220 / +33 (0)6 47 83 46 79 (mobile, France)


John Nilsson-Wright is senior research fellow for northeast Asia with the Asia Programme at Chatham House, senior university lecturer in Japanese Politics and International Relations at Cambridge University and an official fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge.

He was head of the Chatham House Asia Programme from March 2014 until October 2016.

He has a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) from Christ Church, Oxford; an MA in International Relations and East Asian Studies from SAIS, Johns Hopkins; and a DPhil in International Relations from St Antony’s, Oxford.

He comments regularly for the global media on the international relations of East Asia, with particular reference to Japan and the Korean peninsula.

He has been a visiting fellow at Tohoku University, Yonsei University and Seoul National University, a member of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Agenda Council (GAC) on Korea and is a director of the UK-Japan 21st Century Group.

He has testified on East Asian affairs to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, is a member of the editorial board of Global Asia and is a founding member of the European Japan Advanced Research Network (EJARN).


  • Northeast Asian Security, defence policy and nuclear weapons
  • North Korean foreign policy and domestic politics
  • South Korean foreign policy and domestic politics
  • Japanese politics, foreign policy and regional relations


2016 -Senior Research Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House
2014-16Head, Asia Programme, Chatham House
1997 -Fuji Bank University Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Studies, East Asia Institute, University of Cambridge
1997 - 1996Lecturer in Modern Japanese Studies, East Asia Institute, University of Cambridge
  • Navigating Historical Tensions: Pragmatic Leadership, Empathy, and the United States Factor in Japan-South Korea Relations  The ASAN Forum, 29 April 2016
  • The Politics and International Relations of Modern Korea (ed.) Routledge, 2016
  • Chung-in Moon and John Swenson-Wright, eds. Crisis of Peace and New Leadership in Korea: Lessons from Kim Dae-jung’s Legacy, Seoul: Yonsei University Press, 2014
  • Ruediger Frank and John Swenson-Wright, eds. Security Issues for Northeast Asia: The Stony Road to Collective Security, Leiden: Brill, 2013
  • Inter-Korean relations and the challenge of North-east Asian regional security in Andrew T. H. Tan, ed. East and South-East Asia International Relations and Security Perspectives, London: Routledge, 2013
  • What Upper House Victory Means for Shinzo Abe BBC News, July 2013
  • China Talks Tough Over North Korea The Guardian, February 2013
  • The Limits of Normality: Japanese-Korean post-Cold War Interactions, in David Welch, ed. Japan as a Normal Nation, Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 2011
  • Auditing Engagement: Human Security, Economic Contact and the DPRK - Past Initiatives and Future Opportunities, Dealing with North Korean Instabilities and the Future of the Korean Peninsula, Seoul, Republic of Korea: Center for International Studies, Seoul National University, 2010
  • Sasakawa Ryouichi: Unravelling an Enigma in Ryoichi Sasakawa and Ken Hijino (trans), Sugamo Diary, London: Hurst/Columbia, 2010
  • Contending with Regional Uncertainty: Japan's Response to Contemporary East Asian Security Challenges, in Patricia Nelson and Marie Sodeberg, eds, Perspectives on Change in Japanese Politics and Economics, London: Routledge, 2010
  • The Strategic Mind Set of the Obama Administration and US Policy toward Northeast Asia, The Obama Administration's Policy Toward the Korean Peninsula, Korea Association of International Studies, Seoul, April 2009
  • Human Security in East Asia The 5th Jeju Peace Forum: Shaping New Regional Governance in East Asia, Jeju, South Korea, August 2009
  • Assassination, Abduction and Normalization: Historical Mythologies and Misreprentation in Post-war South Korea-Japan Relations, in Rudiger Frank, James Hoare, Patrick Kollner and Susan Pares, eds. Korea Yearbook 2008, Leiden: Brill, 2009
  • The Lucky Dragon Incident of 1954: a Failure of Crisis Management, in Makoto Iokibe, Caroline Rose, Tomaru Junko, and John Weste, eds., Japanese Diplomacy in the 1950s, London: Routledge, 2008
  • Unequal Allies? United States Security and Alliance Policy Toward Japan, 1945-1960, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2005
  • The Best Course Available. A personal account of the secret US - Japan Okinawa negotiations Wakaizumi Kei, ed., Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2002
  • Post-Cold War US-Japan Relations: Incremental Realism in a Maturing Security Partnership, International Center for Comparative Law and Politics, Anglo-Japanese Academy Proceedings, ICCLP Publications No. 7, Graduate School of Law and Politics, University of Tokyo, 2002
  • US-Japan Diplomatic and Security Relations Post-1945: a Historical Perspective Cornell University Occasional Paper, The United States and Asian Security, 2002