James Kaizuka


I was born in West Yorkshire, and I completed both my BA and MA at the University of Leeds prior to becoming a PGR in 2019. I also completed a study abroad year in Waseda University, Japan as an undergraduate and lived in a rural community in northern Japan for one year prior to that.

Throughout my academic career I have focused on politics and development, particularly as they pertain to Japan’s development practices in relation to East and Southeast Asia. I have a broad range of interdisciplinary experiences in these fields in addition to a long-standing interest in North Korea, which is what has brought about my current area of research. I wrote my BA dissertation and MA dissertations on economic development and regionalism in East Asia and on Sino-North Korean relations, respectively, so I am well-versed in these areas and the wider geopolitics and development paradigms of East Asia.



Research interests

My research focuses on Japan’s development practices and politics, using North Korea as a prism of analysis. I am especially interested in the Koizumi and Abe administrations in terms of aid policy formation, and am currently researching how the Koizumi-era Kantei formulated policy in conjunction with the Japanese civil service and private sector prior to the 2002 Pyeongyang Summit. I also have wider interests in Japanese aid policy toward Vietnam and China, which form the basis of comparison for my research on Japan’s policy formation toward North Korea, bringing together the different strands of my research together to examine what a potential future for Japan in the region will look like.

I am interested in the politics of Japan’s development policy, particularly as they pertain to the core actors in the so-called “Iron Triangle” of the government, the civil service and the private sector. My research comprises analysis of the power dynamics between these groups and how their interests coincide and clash with each other, and the ultimate impact of this interplay on ODA policy in terms of both formation and efficacy.



  • MA East Asian Cultures and Societies (University of Leeds)
  • BA Asia-Pacific Studies (University of Leeds)