James L. Schoff

Senior Associate
Asia Program
Schoff is a senior associate in the Carnegie Asia Program. His research focuses on U.S.-Japanese relations and regional engagement, Japanese politics and security, and the private sector’s role in Japanese policymaking.


MA, International Relations, Johns Hopkins University School for Advanced International Studies
BA, Duke University


English; Japanese


James L. Schoff is a senior associate in the Carnegie Asia Program. His research focuses on U.S.-Japanese relations and regional engagement, Japanese politics and security, and the private sector’s role in Japanese policymaking. He previously served as senior adviser for East Asia policy at the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense and as director of Asia Pacific Studies at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis (IFPA).

At the Department of Defense, Schoff was responsible for strategic planning and policy development for relations with Japan and the Republic of Korea. He also spearheaded trilateral initiatives and regional security cooperation issues, including missile defense, disaster relief, and maritime security. He was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service.

From 2003 to 2010, Schoff directed Asia Pacific Studies at IFPA in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he specialized in East Asian security issues, U.S. alliance relations in the region, and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, focused on North Korea. Prior to joining IFPA, he served as program officer in charge of policy studies at the United States-Japan Foundation in New York.

Schoff has written extensively on East Asian security and foreign policy issues. His publications include: In Times of Crisis: U.S.-Japan Civil-Military Disaster Relief Coordination (co-author, Potomac Books Inc., 2009), “Realigning Priorities: The U.S.-Japan Alliance & the Future of Extended Deterrence” (IFPA, 2009), and Tools for Trilateralism: Improving U.S.-Japan-Korea Cooperation to Manage Complex Contingencies (Potomac Books Inc., 2005).


  • Q&A December 10, 2014
    What’s at Stake in Japan’s Election

    With an early vote, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to boost his political capital as he pushes for key reforms.

  • Op-Ed National Interest November 2, 2014
    China and Japan’s Real Problem: Enter the Fairness Dilemma

    China and Japan’s perceptions of fairness are often incompatible, leading to a fairness dilemma that could end in tragedy and involve the U.S. military.

  • Op-Ed Deutsche Welle September 11, 2014 中文
    Shinzo Abe’s “Unprecedented” National Agenda

    The Japanese prime minister has grown concerned that his country’s influence in the world is shrinking due to China, and so Abe is making it a point to be very active in foreign diplomacy.

  • Paper September 9, 2014
    What Myanmar Means for the U.S.-Japan Alliance

    The historic political and economic transition under way in Myanmar is a strategic opportunity for the United States and Japan that requires closer alliance coordination.

  • Op-Ed U.S. News and World Report July 1, 2014 中文
    A Collective Win for Asia

    Japan’s new self-defense initiative is the right move at the right time: Japan has more to offer in service of regional and national security and it has earned the right to participate.

  • Article April 10, 2014 中文
    Obama’s Quiet Priority in Japan: The East China Sea

    Obama and Abe need to privately hammer out a coordinated response to a possible skirmish between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.

  • Testimony U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission March 13, 2014
    U.S. Reassurance and Japanese Defense Reforms Can Improve Security in East Asia

    The United States should take concrete steps to reassure and support its allies in an effort to deter Chinese coercion.

  • Policy Outlook January 16, 2014 日本語
    How to Upgrade U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation

    Revised U.S.-Japan defense guidelines should incorporate a front office/back office concept that keeps the overall division of labor intact but with deeper integration in certain support functions.

  • Other Publications National Bureau of Asian Research October 2, 2013
    Japan’s Nuclear Hedge: Beyond “Allergy” and Breakout

    With the U.S. nuclear umbrella shrinking and nuclear threats in Asia becoming greater and more complex, analysts cannot dismiss a nuclear-armed Japan as a purely academic exercise.

  • Article September 3, 2013 中文
    Xi and Abe Need to Talk

    China’s president and Japan’s prime minister may not meet at the G20 summit, but with tensions escalating in the East China Sea, they need to talk soon.

  • BloombergTV December 15, 2014
    Will Abe Ever Be Able to Reform Japan’s Economy?

    The December 2014 election has given Abe four more years until the next election. This potentially gives Abe the time needed to implement unpopular economic measures like structural reform in Japan.

  • Take Away with John Hockenberry February 12, 2013
    North Korea Conducts Most Powerful Nuclear Test Yet

    While the third North Korean nuclear test is a serious watershed, the country's policy remains far from posing an immediate threat.

  • CNBC December 13, 2012
    A Likely Overwhelming Defeat For the DPJ

    Even if the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan wins in the upcoming elections, it will be more of an overwhelming defeat for the Democratic Party of Japan than a victory for the Liberal Democratic Party.

  • November 21, 2014 Washington, DC 中文
    The U.S.-Japan Alliance in a New Defense Guidelines Era

    The United States and Japan are entering the critical final phase in revising their guidelines for defense cooperation.

  • October 22, 2014 Washington, DC 中文
    Japan-North Korea Rapprochement: Dare to Dream or Doomed to Fail?

    North Korea agreed in May to reopen an investigation into the abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and ‘80s in exchange for sanctions relief from Tokyo. Some thought this step could lead to a breakthrough in Japan-North Korea ties, but there has been little progress.

  • October 2, 2014 Washington, DC 中文
    Abenomics: Will It Work for Japan and the Region?

    A recent IMF staff report on Japan finds some progress for so-called Abenomics, but says that progress is uneven and substantial medium-term risks remain. The success or failure of the policies have important implications for both Japan and the region.

  • July 28, 2014 Washington, DC 中文
    Nuclear Politics on the Korean Peninsula

    The evolving security environment around the Korean Peninsula presents new challenges and opportunities for addressing the North Korean nuclear threat.

  • June 5, 2014 Washington, DC 中文
    Separating Substance From Style in Japan’s Southeast Asia Diplomacy

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is placing a high priority on his country’s diplomacy in Southeast Asia, and policy coordination in the region is now firmly on the U.S.-Japan alliance agenda following last month’s Obama-Abe summit.

  • May 1, 2014 Washington, DC 中文
    Where Next for Japan’s Economic Revitalization?

    Japan is beginning to emerge from its prolonged economic stagnation following the success of Abenomics. But successful implementation of the administration’s action plan, adopted in January, is critical for sustained economic revitalization.

  • April 10, 2014 Washington, DC 中文
    Realizing the Rebalance: The United States Marine Corps in Asia

    Lieutenant General John E. Wissler, commander of Marine Forces Japan, discussed how the United States is cooperating with its Japanese hosts and others in Asia as part of the rebalancing strategy.

  • March 20, 2014 Washington, DC 中文
    Strategic Implications of North Korean Nuclear Missiles

    The North Korean nuclear threat is a growing concern in Tokyo and will influence the revision of the U.S.-Japan bilateral defense cooperation guidelines.

  • March 18, 2014 Washington, DC 中文
    Japan’s “Swing State” Diplomacy in Southeast Asia

    In an unprecedented display of proactive foreign policy, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited all ten ASEAN nations during his first year in office and hosted a special ASEAN leadership summit in Tokyo.

  • Japan-Myanmar
    February 25, 2014 Washington, DC 中文
    U.S.-Japan Strategies for Supporting Myanmar

    The political and economic transformation underway in Myanmar is an important strategic opportunity for the United States and Japan, given the country’s potential impact on the establishment of a stable and prosperous order in Asia based on democratic values and market-based economic policies.

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