Board & Staff


Dr. Richard J. Samuels

Dr. Richard J. Samuels

Richard J. Samuels is Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the Founding Director of the MIT Japan Program. In 2005, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2011 he received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, an Imperial decoration awarded by the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese Prime Minister.

Professor Samuels has served as Head of the MIT Department of Political Science, Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Japan of the National Research Council, and as Chairman of the Japan-US Friendship Commission, an independent Federal grant-making agency that supports Japanese studies and policy-oriented research in the United States. He has spent more than a decade doing field research in Japan and Europe and is one of only three scholars (Japanese or foreign) to have produced more than one scholarly monograph recognized by the Nippon Foundation as one of the top “one hundred books for understanding contemporary Japan.”

In 2013, Cornell University Press published his book about the political and economic effects of Japan’s March 2011 catastrophes: 3.11: Disaster and Change in Japan. Dr. Samuels’ previous book, Securing Japan: Tokyo’s Grand Strategy and the Future of East Asia, was named one of the five finalists for the 2008 Lionel Gelber Prize for the best book in international affairs. Another, Machiavelli’s Children: Leaders and Their Legacies in Italy and Japan, a comparative history of leadership in Italy and Japan, won the 2003 Marraro Prize from the Society for Italian Historical Studies and the 2004 Jervis-Schroeder Prize for the best book in International History and Politics, awarded by the International History and Politics section of the American Political Science Association.

His 1994 study, “Rich Nation, Strong Army”: National Security and the Technological Transformation of Japan won the 1996 John Whitney Hall Prize of the Association of Asian Studies and the 1996 Arisawa Memorial Prize of the Association of American University Presses. His book, The Business of the Japanese State: Energy Markets in Comparative and Historical Perspective received the Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Prize in 1988. In 1983, Princeton University Press published his Politics of Regional Policy in Japan.

His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, International Security, Foreign Policy, Washington Quarterly, International Organization, The Journal of Modern Italian Studies, The National Interest, The Journal of Japanese Studies, Daedalus, and other scholarly journals.

Dr. Samuels received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980 and a gold whistle for a decade of service from the Massachusetts State Referee Committee of the U.S. Soccer Federation in 2009.