Sasakawa USA In-Depth Alumni Research Trip

The Sasakawa USA In-Depth Research Trip provides selected alumni with an opportunity to visit Japan for a deeper understanding of common challenges and opportunities for growth in the U.S.-Japan relationship. Each participant will decide the research topic in consultation with Sasakawa USA, and build their own itinerary for a short trip to Japan to conduct independent research and interviews on the selected topic. Sasakawa USA will select up to two participants for the Sasakawa USA 2021-2022 In-Depth Alumni Research Trip.

Upon completion of the trip, participants are required to submit a research paper based on their research findings. These deliverables will be featured in Sasakawa USA’s on-line publications, and participants will have the opportunity to present their findings to the DC policy community at an event hosted by Sasakawa USA.


2019-2020 Participants

Dr. Chris Bassler
Dr. Chris Bassler serves as the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office (JPO), responsible for developing and acquiring the most advanced next-generation strike aircraft weapon system for the U.S. Air Force, Marines, Navy, and many allied nations. As the CSO, he directly supports the Program Executive Officer (PEO), and directs the F-35 JPO’s teams for requirements analysis & integration; new capability development & assessments; technology strategy, planning, & integration; and strategic planning.

He previously served in various assignments in the U.S. Department of Defense as an engineer, scientist, designer, and strategist, including at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in the Pentagon, the Office of Naval Research, and a U.S. Navy research lab. He has worked in various capacities to enhance capabilities and interoperability across all missions and warfighting domains, with allies/partners on five different continents, and in NATO. Dr. Bassler has received two Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Awards, from the U.S. Secretary of the Navy in 2014 and from the U.S. Chief of Naval Research in 2016. He has published over 60 scientific papers and technical reports, and has been awarded two U.S. Patents.

Dr. Bassler holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech; a M.A. in Security Policy Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Asian Studies from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. He is a graduate of the Navy Senior Leader Seminar (NSLS), a participant in the German Marshall Fund of the United States’ Young Strategists Forum, and an Eagle Scout.

Dr. Bassler is an alumnus of the German Marshall Fund’s Young Strategist’s Forum’s 2018 delegation to Japan. The program is held in partnership with The Sasakawa Peace Foundation.

Ankit Panda

Ankit Panda is an Adjunct Senior Fellow in the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists, where his work covers nuclear and conventional force developments in Asia, missile defense, and nuclear strategy. He is also a Senior Editor at The Diplomat, an online magazine on Asia-Pacific affairs, and a Columnist for the South China Morning Post.

Panda is an award-winning writer and a frequently cited analyst on geopolitical and security issues in the Asia-Pacific. His writing has appeared in The Diplomat, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, Politico Magazine, and War on the Rocks, among other publications. His analysis has been cited by the New York Times, Reuters, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other major newspapers and news agencies. He hosts a popular podcast on geopolitics in Asia for The Diplomat.

In recent years, Panda has reported exclusively on major developments in nuclear and conventional force development in North Korea, China, Russia, India, and Pakistan. He is a contributor to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment and Strategic Survey, and the author of multiple journal articles, reports, and book chapters on topics in security and geopolitics in the Asia-Pacific. Panda is additionally a frequent participant in track-two dialogues and consults for a range of private and public organizations.

Panda is a graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He lives in New York City.

Panda is an alumnus of the German Marshall Fund’s Young Strategist’s Forum’s 2018 delegation to Japan. The program is held in partnership with The Sasakawa Peace Foundation.



Sasakawa USA alumni who participate in an in-depth alumni research trip are required to submit a policy paper based on his/her research and findings to be featured in Sasakawa USA’s on-line publications. Please see below for papers written by previous participants.

The U.S. and Japan After the INF Treaty
Ankit Panda, February 13, 2020


Commentary and Analysis

Panda explores the history of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the United States’ decision to withdraw, capabilities, concerns, and implications for the U.S.-Japan alliance for the post-INF era.

New Ground-Launched Missiles for the Alliance?: How will the alliance address new challenges and opportunities in a post-INF world?
Ankit Panda, January 23, 2020

Commentary and Analysis

Panda explores the ramifications in East Asia of the United States’ decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and how the U.S.-Japan alliance might best position itself for the post-INF era.

Chutzpah meets Monozukuri: A Look at the Japanese-Israeli Cyber Relationship
Dani Charles, September 24, 2019

Commentary and Analysis

Charles outlines the relationship between Japan and Israel, particularly in how it relates to cyber, innovation, and technology, and recommends avenues in which the United States can extend its role as a supporter in the relationship.

Combating Global Steel Excess Capacity: Policy Proposals for the United States, Japan, and the Global Community
Sonja Schaefer, June 26, 2019

Commentary and Analysis

Schaefer outlines a brief historical background on the development of global steel excess capacity and analyzes two of the world’s largest producers and consumers of steel, Japan and the United States, in an effort to assess how they can influence a global reduction in steel excess capacity.

Strategic Distraction: America, China, and Japan in the 21st Century Competitive Space
Sharon Burke, October 3, 2018

Commentary and Analysis

Burke posits that Japan–playing to its strengths as a security builder–has an opportunity to improve global readiness for the great security challenges of the later part of this century, not all of which are military in nature.

Japan’s Changing Electricity Market Recommendations for Policy Makers
Tarak Shah, July 5, 2018

Commentary and Analysis

Shah highlights current trends in the Japanese electricity market, notes areas of strength, and outlines specific changes that Japanese policy makers could implement for a safer, cleaner energy future.

Sister Cities: Seedbed for the Grassroots of U.S.-Japan Relations
Grace Ruch Clegg, May 23, 2018

Commentary and Analysis

Ruch Clegg shares her findings on the legacy, benefits, challenges, and outlook for sister city relationships between the United States and Japan. Clegg finds that despite the challenges, U.S.-Japan sister relationships remain a vibrant element of the broader bilateral relationship.

Next Steps for U.S.-Japan Security Cooperation
Rachel Hoff, June 8, 2016

Sasakawa USA Forum Issue No. 3

In recent years, the United States and Japan have taken significant steps toward a stronger security alliance. While recent efforts to remove some of the legal and structural obstacles that have prohibited Japan from playing a larger role in the alliance have set the stage for a new era of U.S.-Japan defense cooperation, serious challenges remain to implement and operationalize the new reforms and mechanisms.

Putting “Meat on the Bones” of the U.S.-Japan Alliance Coordination Mechanism
Thomas Storch, June 1, 2016

Sasakawa USA Forum Issue No. 2

U.S.-Japan alliance coordination has historically been hindered by structural challenges, such as the lack of a mutual defense pact or a joint operational command structure. Despite longstanding efforts to bolster crisis interoperability and coordination, the alliance continues to lack an optimal structure to organize the planning and execution of complex joint operations.

Climate Politics in Japan
Ken Sofer, May 20, 2016

Sasakawa USA Forum Issue No. 1

The 2015 Paris climate agreement was a significant achievement in international efforts against climate change, but the agreement’s success will depend heavily on the domestic politics of major emitters such as Japan and the United States. As the agreement enters the implementation phase, it is crucial for U.S. policymakers to understand the roles, interests, and relative power of the numerous political actors in Japan’s climate policy process.

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