Sun & Star Japan and East Asia Program

This program aims to increase awareness of the economic, historical, political, and social trends of Japan and East Asia that affect the future of China, Japan, Korea, East Asia, and the world, including the United States.  Through the Sun & Star Symposia and lecture series featuring scholars, practitioners, journalists, and government officials, students and other participants learn about the challenges and opportunities in each country’s domestic politics and economics, the region’s relationship with the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific, and the international relations of the globalized world.

For general inquiries and questions about the program, please email us at



The U.S.-China relationship is the most important bilateral one in the world, and Japan is the most important treaty-based ally for the United States. Recently, China has been more concerned with internal stability than external threat, which has made it difficult for China to be a responsible player in international relations. As a result, the U.S. still needs to keep its influence in the Asia-Pacific, and hence China’s rise has made Japan even more important for the U.S.

We are living in an age where we are, in many ways, connected with each other in this nation as well as with those in other parts of the world. Presently, although we are not living under Cold War threats, there are still countless problems throughout the world, from severe poverty to terrorism and civil wars, to name a few. Debates over foreign policy toward China and the Middle East, and disagreements over domestic policies in the United States, especially concerning education and health care, have never been settled.

Students are expected to contribute to solving these issues. Contributing solutions and solving world problems are, of course, tremendous tasks. With its affiliation in the SMU Tower Center, the Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia is in a unique position to explore the dynamic China-Japan-U.S. triangular relationship by discussing contemporary topics related to U.S. and world politics and economy. The program is designed to help students become aware of the nuances behind the issues in the Asia-Pacific and be world changers by becoming problem solvers.

Dallas has become an increasingly important place to understand the United States, its relationship with Japan and East Asia, and world politics and economy. Many people in Japan and East Asia, however, have more familiarity with the East and West Coasts than with Texas, the South, or the Southwest. Sun & Star is therefore an effort to connect and relate regional, national, and international perspectives.


The Sun & Star Symposium is founded by the lasting legacy of the Sun & Star 1996 Festival, a 100-day Texan-Japanese cultural festival, held in Dallas and Fort Worth.

The festival organizers made three large grants to local educational and cultural institutions, one of which was SMU. As a result of this significant gift, the university established a program within the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies to promote US-Japanese relationships. The Tower Center uses this Sun & Star Japan Studies Fund to provide Asia-related programming, faculty fellowships, academic opportunities, speakers on campus, and this symposium, held at SMU every other year. Past symposium topics have included Japan's Political Economy: Accidental Over-achiever of Temporary Underachiever?; Japan's New Nationalism: How Japan's Identity is Changing at Home and Abroad; The China-Japan-US Triangle: Economic and Security Dimensions; Are Reforms Dead in Japan? The Legacy of Prime Minister Koizumi; and Asia's Contested Waters: The East China and South China Sea.

Sun & Star Symposium | U.S.-Japan Relations and Security in the Asia-Pacific: Challenges and Hopes | June 10-11, 2016

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Sun & Star Symposium | Waiting for the Rising Sun: Japanese New Nationalism and Beyond | March 3-4, 2015

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Sun & Star Symposium | Asia’s Contested Waters: The East China and South China Sea | September 18-19, 2013

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Upcoming Events

Nov. 13: Lunch & Lecture with Melanie Manon

Past Events

Oct. 23: Walk in the U.S., Talk on Japan

Oct. 30: How China Escaped the Poverty Trap

September 7, 2017: Food Safety after Fukushima: Scientific Citizenship and the Politics of Risk

May 3-4, 2017: Sun & Star Symposium | One Hundred Days In | The State of U.S.-Japan Relations under the Trump Administration 

March 1, 2017: U.S.-Japan Security Alliance: How the Relationship is Changing Militarily and What We Can Expect

March 8, 2017: Six years after the Arab Spring: Trajectories, Outcomes and the Regional Order

February 17, 2017: Japan Update Symposium 

February 8, 2017: The China-Japan-Southeast Asia Relationship 

November 11, 2016: Security of the Korean Peninsula

November 15, 2016: A Conversation with Toshihiro Nakayama

November 3, 2016: China's Economic Statecraft

September 21, 2016: Uninformed: Why People Seem to Know so Little about Politics and What We Can Do about It

September 29, 2016: Chinese Society and Economic Change

September 7, 2016: The Scott Hawkins Lecture | Domestic Foreign Policy

August 31, 2016: The Resource Curse in China

June 10-11, 2016: Sun & Star Symposium in Japan | U.S.-Japan Relations and Security in the Asia-Pacific: Challenges and Hopes

May 4, 2016: Conversation with the Mt. Fuji Dialogue Special Delegation | U.S.-Japan Relations in the New Age: One Year after PM Abe's Visit to the United States

May 11, 2016: A Conversation with James Kelly, Former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

March 15, 2016: Consul-General Amano: U.S.-Japan Relations and Security in East Asia

March 14, 2016: The 2016 Taiwanese Elections and the Implications on the U.S.-China-Taiwan Relationship 

February 12, 2016: Japan Update Symposium | U.S.-Japan Economic and Security Relations: One Year after Prime Minister Abe's Historic Visit

February 11, 2016: Nori Katagiri: Military Power in Japan 

January 19, 2016: Satoshi Ikeuchi: Diffuse and then Expand: Organizational Approach to the Islamic State 

November 20, 2015: Ambassador Kenney: Southeast Asia and the Trans-Pacific Partnership 

November 16, 2015: Intimate Rivals: Japanese Domestic Politics and a Rising China

November 6, 2015: A Grand Economic Strategy for Asia? TPP, AIIB, and the Challenges Ahead for Regional Partnerships

October 14, 2015: Capitalism and Activism: Market Forces and LGBT Movements in Asia

September 15, 2015: The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Implications beyond Economics

Sep. 17, 2015: Tower Center Student Forum | Civil-Military Relations in China and Implications for Foreign Policy

September 9, 2015: Tax Reform in Rural China: Revenue, Resistance, and Authoritarian Rule

September 2, 2015: Propaganda for Sale: The Impact of Media Commercialization on Authoritarian Rule in China

May 15, 2015: Celebrating the American Experience and US-Japan Relations: Irene Hirano Inouye, Her Life, Works and Achievements

Feb. 13, 2015: Japan Update Symposium | Going Global: A New Era in Japanese Business 

January 15, 2015: Lunch & Lecture | Under the Umbrella: Electoral Politics in the Post-1997 Hong Kong

February 24, 2014: U.S., South & North Korea: What the Future Holds


New scholarship for SMU students studying in Japan honors Dr. H. Neill McFarland 

The ORIX Americas Miyauchi Charitable Foundation has agreed to fund a scholarship for SMU students who participate in the SMU-in-Japan study abroad program at Kwansei Gakuin University (KGU). The scholarship was founded in the SMU Tower Center Sun & Star Program. Read more>>


Food Safety After Fukushima

SMU Anthropology Assistant Professor Nicolas Sternsdorff Cisterna examined how citizens banded together to demand safe food after the 2011 nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan at the Tower Center Sept. 7. Read more>>

Read more about Nicolas Sternsdorff Cisterna in the student-run SMU Campus Weekly.

Claire Huitt | The China-Japan-Southeast Asia Relationship

SMU Senior Claire Huitt wrote a blog discussing the Tower Center Sun & Star event, "The China-Japan-Southeast Asia Relationship," featuring Dr. Rumi Aoyama, a leading scholar in Chinese Foreign Policy from Waseda University. "As both a reaction to their perception of Western containment and their own security agenda, China’s foreign policy, while presenting the opportunity for greater regional and international integration, creates an unmistakable possibility for big power conflict," Huitt wrote. Read more>> 


 Claire Huitt | The U.S. Presidential Election and the Future of Japan-US Relations

SMU Senior Claire Huitt wrote a blog discussing the Tower Center Sun & Star event, "The U.S. Presidential Election and the Future of Japan-US Relations," featuring Dr. Toshihiro Nakayama of Keio University. "His point was a simple," Huitt wrote, "the United States must have an ally in the Asia Pacific, and Japan is the best choice." Read more>>

A.J. Jeffries | Security in the Korean Peninsula

SMU Senior A.J. Jeffries wrote a blog discussing the Tower Center Sun & Star event, "Security of the Korean Peninsula," featuring Kuyoun Chung, research fellow in the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU)’s International and Strategic Division. "Given the steady increase in sanctions and North Korea’s dual strategy of nuclear and economic development, it is easy to understand the title of Chung’s first slides: 'fading hopes for unification,'" Jeffries wrote. Read more >>

Claire Huitt | China's Economic Statecraft

SMU Senior Claire Huitt wrote a blog discussing the Tower Center Sun & Star and SAS@SMU event, "China's Economic Statecraft," featuring Dr. William Norris of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service. "Since opening its economy in 1978, China has held economics at the heart of its foreign policy, yet in the years following the global financial crisis in 2008, China’s grand strategy has begun to shift," Huitt wrote. Read more>>

Claire Huitt | China's Evolving Economy and Society

SMU Senior Claire Huitt wrote a blog discussing the Tower Center Sun & Star event, "China's Evolving Economy and Society: A Long View," featuring Stanford University's Andrew Walder. He discussed four circumstances that made experimental economic reform possible for Deng Xiaopang. "Mao’s policies and campaigns such as the Anti-Rightist Movement, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution profoundly influenced China’s development," Huitt wrote.  Read more>>


Madeleine Case | How Voters Think and Learn about Elections

SMU Junior and Hamilton Scholar Madeleine Case wrote a blog discussing the Tower Center Sun & Star event, "I'll See it When I Believe it: How Voters Learn and Think about Elections," featuring University of Michigan's Dr. Arthur Lupia. "Lupia argued that it is not the voters' job to be informed. Instead, it is up to the informers to communicate information to the voters despite the reality of media overload — they need to be more interesting than cat videos," Case wrote. Read more>>


Thomas Schmedding | Strategic Dilemmas in American Foreign Policy

SMU Senior and Tower Scholar Thomas Schmedding wrote a blog discussing the Tower Center Sun & Star event, "Strategic Dilemmas in American Foreign Policy," featuring Stanford University's Dr. Kenneth Schultz. "In order to postulate the possibilities and limitations of American foreign policy, Kenneth Schultz from Stanford University discussed three key dilemmas that have challenged policymakers in his lecture Sept. 7: force vs. restraint, stakes vs. leverage, and coercion vs. reassurance," Schmedding wrote. Read more>>

Claire Huitt | The Resource Curse in China 

SMU Senior Claire Huitt wrote a blog discussing the Tower Center Sun & Star event, "The Resource Curse in China," featuring Chinese University of Hong Kong's Dr. Jing Vivian Zhan. "Across the world, the resource curse afflicts numerous resource rich nations. Among them, China struggles to balance the benefits and detriments of its own domestic resources," Huitt wrote. Read more>>

Director of the Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia:

Hiroki Takeuchi | 214.768.2521 | 

Fellows of the Sun & Star Program on Japan and East Asia:

Carrie Liu Currier

Johan Elverskog

Peter Hays Gries

Christopher H. Hanna

James Hollifield

LaiYee Leong

Steven Lindquist

Diana Newton | 214.768.4087 |

Jieun Pyun | 214.200.4376 |  

J. Thomas Schieffer

Ling Shiao

Michael Strausz

Alexander Tan

William Tsutsui

Patrick Walsh

Anny Wong | 214.768.3954 |


General Inquiries


Physical Address:
2nd floor of Carr Collins Hall
3300 University Blvd
Southern Methodist University
Dallas TX 75205

Mailing Address:
(Deliveries should be sent to the physical address above)
Tower Center - Japan and East Asia Program
Southern Methodist University
PO Box 750117
Dallas TX 75275