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Aiko Otsuka

PhD Student, Japanese Studies


I have been a member of Dr Barak Kushner’s project on “The Dissolution of the Japanese Empire and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Postwar East Asia” since October 2013.  

I received my BA in Liberal Arts with International Studies concentration from Soka University of America, and my MA in East Asian Studies from the University of Arizona. During my MA, I studied Modern Japanese History from a comparative approach and completed a thesis on Japanese intellectuals’ views on China in the 1930s. Whilst at Arizona, I taught Japanese language as a graduate teaching assistant and was awarded a graduate fellowship for academic excellence in my final year. I have also studied at the National University of Cuyo in Argentina. I have also volunteered at the "Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery" held in Tokyo in 2000. 

Subject groups/Research projects

Japanese Studies:

Research Interests

My thesis examines postwar narratives and identity of Japanese former military officers who had instigated various instances of aggression in Asia and the Pacific regions in the 1930s and 1940s. I explore the ways in which these officers confronted Japan’s defeat and recounted the imperial past during and after the period of the US occupation (1945-1952). My research looks at how Japan's defeat impacted on their self-created identity in post-WWII. 

Other Professional Activities

Conference and seminar presentations 

“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.