Arriving in Australia from Swizerland in 1990, I first developed my interest in Japan and Japanese in my undergraduate degree at La Trobe University, where I completed a double major in history and Japanese. I was able to indulge my fascination with post-war Japanese history in my Honours year, when I studied the Shōwa Emperor’s Monologue and wrote a thesis on the manipulation of symbols by Japanese elites and Occupation Forces after the defeat. Thanks to a summer scholarship at the Australian War Memorial, I was further able to develop my interest in war and its place in national memories.
My PhD focussed on the return of so-called ‘stragglers’ (soldiers who didn’t know the war was over) to Japan over the period between 1950-1975, and their representation in the Japanese media as a way to trace the development of popular memory of the war in Japan. A Japanese government scholarship enabled me to spend two years in Tokyo to carry out research..
After several years in the history department of the University of Newcastle, where I taught Japanese history, as well as Chinese and world history and historical theory and method courses, I joined the staff of the Japanese studies section at Monash in 2006.
I continue to research topics relating to the war and to legacies of the war in Japan. In particular, with the help of grants from the Australian Research council, I am completing a manuscript on the political activities of Japanese repatriates both during and after the Occupation, and am working with Robert Cribb (ANU) Sandra Wilson (Murdoch) and Dean Aszkielowicz (Murdoch) on a book dealing with the repatriation and release of Japanese war criminals.