Professor Hugo Dobson

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

School of East Asian Studies

Professor of Japan's International Relations

Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences

Faculty Director of One University Strategy Delivery (Social Sciences)

Profile photo of Hugo Dobson
Profile picture of Profile photo of Hugo Dobson

Full contact details

Professor Hugo Dobson
School of East Asian Studies
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

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 Sheffield in 2001 as a lecturer in Japan’s international relations, becoming a senior lecturer in 2005 and a professor in 2009. Hugo was Head of the School of East Asian Studies from 2013 to 2019.

His 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 G7 and G20. He has participated in G7 and G20 engagement groups known as the Think 7 and Think 20 that act as an 'ideas bank'.

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.


BA, MA (Leeds)

MEd, PhD (Sheffield)

Research interests

Professor Dobson's research explores informal global summitry, in particular the Group of 7 (G7) and Group of 20 (G20).

In particular, he is interested in understanding how the Japanese government and people engage with these groups. To this end, he attended a number of G7 and G20 summits as a Policy Analyst in recent years.

He has recently published a book Unpacking the G20, while conducting research for another book on the role of former prime ministers in Japanese politics.



Edited books

Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers

  • Dobson H, Kirton J, Bayne N, Sands C, O'Neill J, Wouters J & Lesage D (2020) Think 7 USA 2020: Report of the Think 7 Summit. Think 7 USA 2020: Report of the Think 7 Summit. Woodrow Wilson Centre for International Scholars and G7 Research Group, 14 May 2020 - 15 May 2020. RIS download Bibtex download


  • Dobson H & Scheler R (2020) Joining Forces: Reviving Multilateralism through Multi-Stakeholder Cooperation View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download

Website content

  • Dobson H Pembunuhan mantan PM Shinzo Abe: Bagaimana sejarah kekerasan bermotif politik di Jepang?. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson H Assassinat de Shinzo Abe : une histoire de la violence politique au Japon. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson H Shinzo Abe’s killing: the history of political violence in Japan. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Dobson H Asesinato de Shinzo Abe: una historia de la violencia política en Japón. RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

Research Clusters

Associated research groups and collaborators

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.

Teaching interests

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.

Teaching activities

Professor Dobson teaches on the following modules


  • EAS2031 Postwar Japanese Politics


  • EAS6236 Postwar Japanese Politics
  • EAS683 Global Governance and Japan
Media Expertise

Professor Dobson is available to media organisations to discuss various aspects of Japanese politics, its international relations, and the G7/G20.

He has previously been interviewed by a range of media outlets in the UK and Japan, such as BBC News, The Guardian, China Daily, Canada TV (CTV) and China Global Television Network (CGTN). 

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