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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Past Events

March 15-16: The China Challenge and International Relations of the Asia-Pacific

Feb. 22: 

Feb. 8: 

Jan. 31: 

Jan. 30: 

Jan. 8:  

Nov. 13: Lunch & Lecture with Melanie Manon

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

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