In his current role as Shorenstein Distinguished Fellow, Michael Armacost has been at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC) since 2002. In the interval between 1995 and 2002, Armacost served as president of Washington, D.C.'s Brookings Institution, the nation's oldest think tank and a leader in research on politics, government, international affairs, economics, and public policy. Previously, during his twenty-four year government career, Armacost served, among other positions, as undersecretary of state for political affairs and as ambassador to Japan and the Philippines.
Armacost began his career in academia, as a professor of government at Pomona College. In 1969, he was awarded a White House Fellowship, and was assigned to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of State. Following a stint on the State Department's policy planning and coordination staff, he became a special assistant to the U.S. ambassador in Tokyo from 1972 to 74, his first foreign diplomatic post. Thereafter, he held senior Asian affairs and international security posts in the State Department, the Defense Department, and the National Security Council. From 1982 to 1984, he served as U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, and was a key force in helping the country undergo a nonviolent transition to democracy. In 1989, President George Bush tapped him to become ambassador to Japan, considered one of the most important and sensitive U.S. diplomatic posts abroad.
Armacost is the author of three books, the most recent of which, Friends or Rivals?, was published in 1996 and draws on his tenure as ambassador. He also co-edited, with Daniel Okimoto, the Future of America's Alliances in Northeast Asia, published in 2004 by Shorenstein APARC. Armacost has served on numerous corporate and nonprofit boards, including TRW, AFLAC, Applied Materials, USEC, Inc., Cargill, Inc., and Carleton College, and he currently chairs the board of The Asia Foundation.
A native of Ohio, Armacost graduated from Carleton College and earned his master's and doctorate in public law and government from Columbia University. He has received the President's Distinguished Service Award, the Defense Department's Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the Secretary of State's Distinguished Services Award, and the Japanese government’s Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.