Hugo photo

Professor Hugo Dobson

Professor of Japanese Studies

BA, MA (Leeds), MEd, PhD (Sheffield)

Contact details
Tel: 0114 222 8437
Room: B04


Hugo Dobson was awarded his PhD from the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield in 1998. His thesis explored Japan’s participation in United Nations-sponsored peacekeeping operations. He has worked as a research fellow in the International Centre for Comparative Law and Politics at the University of Tokyo (1997-1999) and lecturer in the international relations of East Asia in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent (1999-2000). He returned to the School of East Asian Studies in 2001 as a lecturer in Japan’s international relations, becoming a senior lecturer in 2005 and a professor in 2009.

Professor Dobson’s research interests are broadly divided into two strands. The first strand focuses upon Japan's role in international relations, multilateral organisations and global governance, especially the G8 and G20. The second strand of his research explores the role of images in shaping our understanding of international relations and Japan’s role in the world, from postage stamps and logos to TV programmes such as The Simpsons.

He has been the recipient of a number of research grants and has been invited to teach and research at various institutions around the world including the University of Tokyo, Hosei University in Tokyo, Zurich University and Charles University in Prague.


Professor Dobson currently teaches on the following modules:

EAS137 Japanese Politics
EAS265 Understanding Japan through Contemporary Texts
EAS333 Japanese Language VI
EAS356 War and Peace in East Asia
EAS682 Global Governance and Japan
EAS666 Specialised Texts: Social Sciences

Teaching Philosophy

Everyone remembers a good teacher. For me, it was my A-level History teacher, Mr Kilkenny. Inspired by him, I try to encourage my students at Sheffield to question everything, look at events from a different angle and be passionate about a subject. To help me achieve this I have completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education at the University of Kent, and a Masters Degree in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education at the University of Sheffield. These courses exposed me to new ways of thinking about teaching and learning and allowed me to create networks that have supported my teaching since. All my modules make use a wide range of activities based on the principles of enquiry-based learning whereby students take ownership of the learning process, identifying relevant questions and resources, forging and defending their own interpretations - all with the goal of ultimately becoming independent learners.

Current Research

Professor Dobson is currently investigating the transition from the G8 to G20 in light of the global rebalancing of power as seen in the rise of countries like China and India and the recent global economic crisis. In particular, he is interested in understanding how Japan is managing this process particularly in a forum like the G20. To this end, he attended the G20 Summit in Cannes in November 2011 and the G8 Summit in Chicago in May 2012

He has also recently published a third edition of the co-authored textbook Japan’s International Relations: Politics, Economics and Security, whilst conducting research for a new book on the role of former prime ministers in Japanese politics.

Key Publications


(2011) Japan’s International Relations: Politics, Economics and Security, London: Routledge, third edition (co-authored with Glenn Hook, Julie Gilson and Christopher Hughes).

(2011) Nihon to Igirisu no Senso to Wakai, Tokyo: Hosei Daigaku Shuppankyoku (co-edited with Kosuge Nobuko).

(2009) Japan and Britain at War and Peace, London: Routledge (co-edited with Kosuge Nobuko).

(2007) Global Governance and Japan: The Institutional Architecture, London: RoutledgeCurzon (co-edited with Glenn Hook).

(2007) The Group of 7/8, London: Routledge.

(2004) Japan and the G7/8, 1975 to 2002, London: RoutledgeCurzon.

(2003) Japan and Britain in the Contemporary World: Responses to Common Issues, London: RoutledgeCurzon (co-edited with Glenn Hook).

(2003) Japan and United Nations Peacekeeping: New Pressures, New Responses, London: RoutledgeCurzon.

Journal Articles

(2016) 'China's Presidency of the G20 Hangzhou: On Global Leadership and Strategy', Global Summitry (co-authored with Gregory T. Chin).

(2015) 'China as G20 Host in 2016: Dawn of Asian Global Leadership?', Global Policy, 3 March (co-authored with Gregory Chin)

(2015) 'The Curious Case of Japanese Leadership', Global Policy, 9 June.

(2013) ‘Japan’s Role in the New Global Economic Governance: Domestic and International Factors’, Asien: The German Journal on Contemporary Asia, No. 128, July, pp. 79-94.

(2013) ‘The Cameron Government and GX Leadership’, Global Summitry Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1.

(2012) ‘Where are the women in global governance? Leaders, wives and hegemonic masculinity in the G8 and G20 summits’, Global Society, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 429-449

(2012) ‘Japan’s Diplomatic Double Whammy: Hosting TICAD-IV and the G8 Hokkaidō Tōyako Summit’, Japanese Studies, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 237-253.

(2012) ‘Seoul-searching: the 2010 G20 Seoul Summit’, Global Governance, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 363-381 (co-authored with Judith Cherry).

(2012) ‘Managing the Medusa: Japan-US relations in GX summitry’, Pacific Review, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 175-198.

(2012) ‘Japan's response to the changing global order: the case of a “Gaggle of Gs”’, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 229-257.

(2010) ‘Japan and the Changing Global Balance of Power: the view from the summit’, Politics, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 33-42.

(2008) ‘The 2008 Hokkaido-Toyako G8 Summit: neither summit nor plummet’, Japan Focus, Vol. 48, November.

(2006) ‘Mister Sparkle meets the Japanese Yakuza: Depictions of Japan in The Simpsons’, The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 44-64.

(2005) ‘The Stamp of Approval: Decision-making Processes and Policies in Japan and the UK’, East Asia: An International Quarterly, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 56-76.

(2004) ‘Japan and the G8 Evian Summit: bilateralism, East Asianism and multilateralization’, G8 Governance, No. 9, February, pp. 1-17.

(2002) Glenn Hook, Julie Gilson, Christopher Hughes and Hugo Dobson, ‘Japan and the East Asian Financial Crisis: Patterns, Motivations and Instrumentalisation of Japanese Regional Economic Diplomacy’, European Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 177-197.

(2002) ‘Japanese Postage Stamps: Propaganda and Decision-Making’, Japan Forum, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp. 21-39.

Book Chapters

(2014) ‘Japan and Globalization’, in James D. Babb (ed.) The SAGE Handbook of Modern Japanese Studies, London: SAGE.

(2014) 'The International Context: Energy, the Environment and a "Gaggle of Gs"', in Toshio Miyake and Andrea Revelant (eds) Rethinking Nature in Contemporary Japan: Science, Economics, Politics, Venice: Ca' Foscari Japanese Studies.

(2013) ‘Japan and der G20-Gipfel: Von Kan nach Cannes’, in Gabriele Vogt and Phoebe Holgrün (eds) Modernisierungsprozesse in Japan, Berlin and Tokyo: Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien, pp. 127-142.

(2013) ‘Foreword’, in Conrad Totman, A History of Japan, London: Folio Society, pp. xv-xxi.

(2012) 'Asia shaping the Group of 20 or the Group of 20 shaping Asia?', in Christopher M. Dent and Jorn Dosch (eds) The Asia-Pacific, Regionalism and the Global System, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 106-121.

(2011) ‘The G8, the G20 and Civil Society’, in Paolo Savona, John J. Kirton and Chiara Oldani (eds) Global Financial Crises: National Economic Solutions, Geopolitical Impacts, Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 245-260.

(2011) ‘Nichiei Wakai to Media: Dainiji Sekai Taisen Shuketsu 50-nen to 60-nen no Eikoku Media ni Hikaku’, in Hugo Dobson and Kosuge Nobuko (eds) Nihon to Igirisu no Senso to Wakai, Tokyo: Hosei Daigaku Shuppankyoku.

(2010) ‘Diplomacy on the Boundaries: the G8, international society and Japan’s instrumentalization of liminality’, in Takeda Hiroko and Glenn D. Hook (eds) Decoding Boundaries in Postwar Japan: The Koizumi Administration and Beyond, London: Routledge, pp. 14-34.

(2009) ‘Reporting the Fiftieth and Sixtieth Anniversaries of the End of World War 2: Less Fear and Loathing in the UK press towards Japan?’, in Hugo Dobson and Kosuge Nobuko (eds) Japan and Britain at War and Peace, London: Routledge, pp. 151-165.

(2008) ‘Leadership in Global Governance: Japan and China in the G8 and the UN’, in Christopher M. Dent (ed.) China, Japan and Regional Leadership in East Asia, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 181-202.

(2007) ‘Teaching Excellence in Higher Education in Japan: An Evolving Agenda’, in Alan Skelton (ed.) International Perspectives on Teaching Excellence in Higher Education: Improving Knowledge and Practice, London: Routledge, pp. 183-196 (co-authored with Mori Yukako).

(2007) ‘Global Governance and the G7/8’, in Glenn D. Hook and Hugo Dobson (eds) Global Governance and Japan: The Institutional Architecture, London: Routledge, pp. 23-39.

(2007) ‘Japan and the UK at the G8 Summit: Cooperation and Conflict at the Highest Level of Diplomacy’, in Philip Towle and Nobuko Margaret Kosuge (eds) Britain and Japan in the Twentieth Century: One Hundred Years of Trade and Prejudice, London: I.B. Tauris, pp. 152-165.

(2005) ‘Global Governance, the G7/8 summit and Japan’, in Glenn D. Hook (ed.) Contested Governance in Japan, RoutledgeCurzon, pp. 17-35.

(2002) ‘Social Movements, Civil Society and Democracy in Japan’, in Catarina Kinnvall and Kristina Jonsson (eds) Globalization and Democratization in Asia: The Construction of Identity, Routledge, pp. 131-148.

Research Supervision

Professor Dobson welcomes the opportunity to supervise promising Ph.D. students across a broad range of topics related to international relations and Japan.

He has previously [co-]supervised successful Ph.D. theses on topics including Southeast Asian approaches to conflict resolution, Japanese approaches to humanitarianism, Japan’s regional institution-building initiatives, and China’s aid policies.

He is currently [co-]supervising Ph.D. theses on the impact of globalisation on Japan’s security policies, Japan’s territorial disputes in the East Asian region, and Japan’s relations with North Korea.

Media Expertise

Professor Dobson is available to media organisations to discuss various aspects of Japanese politics, its international relations, and the G8/G20.

He has previously been interviewed by a range of media outlets in the UK and Japan, such as BBC News, The Guardian, Film Four, The Japan Times and Asahi Shinbun. Here you can watch an interview he did for the BBC at the most recent G7 Summit in Germany in 2015. Below please see a video blog he recorded for the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a Canadian think tank, at the 2009 G8 Summit in Italy.

Please contact him either by phone or email to arrange an interview.