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Student Spotlight Interview: Daniel White

November 19, 2018

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Daniel White and I am a second year student in the Jackson School Japan Studies MA program at the University of Washington. Born and raised in Washington State, I completed my undergraduate studies at the UW where I also had the opportunity to study for a year at Waseda University in Tokyo. My academic focus is regional security and foreign policy with my personal interests including recording/composing music, camping/hiking, reading and photography.

Why did you choose the Japan Studies program?

Growing up, I spent a number of years living in Japan, yet it was my time at Waseda that convinced me to learn about Japan in more depth. I was studying piano performance at the time, but my experiences abroad were eye opening and challenged me to take the opportunity to broaden my studies. Due to UW’s reputation and wonderful faculty, it was the top choice for continuing my graduate studies of Japan.

Would you say that you have changed (intellectually, personally, etc.) as a result of your studies on Japan?

There is no doubt that I have expanded my knowledge of Japan and other related subjects while in this program. While I was an undergraduate, I knew that I had an interest in Japan that went beyond the surface level. Yet it was not until I finished my first year of the program that I was able to fully articulate where my interest in Japan lay. Surrounded by nations with a track record for conflict, Japan’s security and foreign policies are worthy of scrutiny especially in light of regional events that have transpired in the last couple of years. Accordingly, while the JSIS program directly enabled me to study a critical global hotspot, in a broader sense, it challenged me to develop a greater awareness of the world in which I live.

What were your research topics for your MA completion?

My first paper examined the US-Japan Security Alliance. With the end of the Cold War era, both Japan and the US are facing a crossroads in light of this new international environment. While their unique alliance has been mutually beneficial in many ways, however, it has not been without its challenges. This paper consequently analyzes the issues confronting the alliance today in addition to assessing the future of US-Japan relations. My second paper focuses on Henry Stimson, the US Secretary of War during WWII. It examines his wartime decisions, moral dilemmas, and role as a “statesman” – a term coined by political philosopher, John Rawls.

What are your plans after graduation, and how do you see your time in the JSIS Japan MA program assisting you in the future?

My current plans include taking the Foreign Service exam sometime in the upcoming year in addition to searching for internationally related work within the private sector. Whether my eventual career will directly relate to Japan or not (I hope it does!), I know that I will greatly benefit from the analytical and synthetic skills that I cultivated during my time in the program.

What have you enjoyed most about your time in the JSIS Japan MA program?

While I have immensely enjoyed the various classes I have taken in the program, I particularly appreciated the smaller seminar classes that fostered stimulating discussions. I also have to say that the conversations I have had with both my fellow Japan Studies classmates and professors has definitely been a special part of my time here.

What advice would you give prospective Japan MA students?

  1. Get to know your professors. They are not only there to help, but you can learn much from them outside of the classroom as well.
  2. Connect with the other Japan Studies students. You will most likely take several classes together and organizing a dinner or similar outing outside the academic setting is a wonderful way to bond.
  3. Create enough time to work on your research and paper writing, as there will likely be a large amount of information to sift through and choose from.