Lieutenant Commander Sonoko Kuhara is a Nonresident Fellow with the East Asia program at Stimson. Lt. Kuhara was born in Kyoto, Japan. She graduated from the National Defense Academy with a Bachelor of International Relations and an award for excellence and was commissioned into the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) as Surface Warfare Officer through the MSDF Officer Candidate School (MOCS) in 2007.
Her sea tours include assignments as assistant engineer officer and assistant ASW officer of training ships, and she completed five-month overseas training cruises twice as an instructor for 200 newly commissioned officers. Previously, she served as operation officer, JS Asuka (ASE 6102), and coordinated practical trials of new JMSDF weapon systems, where she made great contributions to success.
Her flag assignments include assistant operation staff, Japan Training Squadron, where she received a commendation from the Commander of Japan Training Squadron for successfully accomplishing the five-month overseas training cruises. While embarked as a liaison officer during exercises, she spearheaded bilateral exercises with 15 foreign navies including the U.S. Navy.
Tours ashore include assignments as an English instructor at MOCS, where she received commendation from the Superintendent of the MOCS for successfully accomplishing education reform of English study and improving TOEIC scores of 200 officer candidates to the highest scores ever. She successfully coordinated bilateral training cruise for JMSDF officer candidates and ROTC students of the U.S. Navy, a friendship program with midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy.
In 2018, she completed the International Maritime Staff Operator Course (IMSOC) of the U.S. Naval War College, regarding the joint planning process. Since 2018, she is studying international law, conflict resolution, geo-economics, and ethics for her master’s degree in International Relations at Salve Regina University.