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Aiko Otsuka

Aiko Otsuka

PhD Student, Japanese Studies


Biography:

I joined Dr Barak Kushner’s project on ‘The Dissolution of the Japanese Empire and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Postwar East Asia’ in October 2013, receiving a four-year studentship. Additionally, I received first Aoi Global Research Award in 2014 to conduct archival work in Tokyo and in London. I have been investigating war narratives of Japanese veterans through an analysis of Japanese official military records, trial documents, and regimental histories.

My personal interest in Japan’s war crimes stems from my experience in attending the ‘Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery’ held in Tokyo in 2000 as a volunteer. This experience led me to pursue similar research with subjects in my BA at Soka University of America (California) where I majored in Liberal Arts with International Studies concentration. Receiving teaching assistantship in the Japanese language, I pursued my research interests in a MA in East Asian Studies (Japan-area specialisation) at the University of Arizona. My MA focused on three prominent Japanese public intellectuals in the 1930s as a case study and their views on China and Japan’s continental policy in Asia. I was awarded a graduate fellowship for academic excellence in my final year.

Subject groups/Research projects

Japanese Studies:

Research Interests

My current thesis examines war narratives of former members of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) after WWII. My research focuses on IJA’s infantry regiments that conducted major military operations and instigated various instances of aggression in Asia and the Pacific region in the 1930s and 1940s. I explore the ways in which they recount Japan’s defeat and construct postwar narratives as a way to examine how a defeated army deals with a contentious past. 

Other Professional Activities

Conference and seminar presentations 

“The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and Mopping-Up Operations during the Asia-Pacific War, 1937-1945,” International History of East Asian Seminar, University of Oxford, 28 November 2016.

“The Imperial Japanese Army and Massacres Against Civilians,” ERC Project Team Seminar, University of Cambridge, 8 June 2016.

“The Roles of Historical Narratives in Transitional Justice: Writing Japanese War History during the Process of Transition, 1945-1952,” Transnational Justice Workshop, Heidelberg University, Germany, 15-17 May 2015. 

“Narratives of Defeat: The Struggle of Japanese Former General Staff Officers in Postwar Contexts,” DEAS Postgraduate Research Seminar, University of Cambridge, 10 June 2014. 

“Remembering Japan’s War and Aggression: The Role of Japanese Former Military General Staff Officers in Postwar Contexts,” the Violence and Conflict workshop, University of Cambridge, 20 May 2014. 

"War Guilt and Justice: Japanese Military Officers, 1945-1965," Heidelberg University and University of Cambridge Symposium on Empire and Law: Investigating History and War Crimes in East Asia, University of Cambridge, 7-9 February 2014. 

Collaborators