Associate Professor Tomoko Akami

BA (Hiroshima), MA (Hiroshima), MA (Melbourne), PhD(ANU)
Associate Professor (Reader): School of Culture, History & Language
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
T: 61-2-6125-7572

Areas of expertise

  • International Relations 160607
  • Asian History 210302
  • Historical Studies 2103
  • Government And Politics Of Asia And The Pacific 160606
  • Political Theory And Political Philosophy 160609

Research interests

She is currently working on an ARC project on 'Empire and Global Health Governance', examining the League of Nations Health Organization's operations in Asia and the Pacific region in the inter-war period. Her first book was an historical analysis of non-governmental organizations in this region, and the role of experts in international politics. She questions the Westphalian model of international relations in the inter-war period, and the national-international binary in an analysis of internationalism. She has worked on the nexus of the nation-state and empire, is exploring the meaning of 'liberal empire' and inter-imperial/colonial cooperations in the formations of regional/international organizations and norms. She is a member of international networks of scholars of history of international organizations.

Her previous ARC project now resulted in the two volumes on Japan's news agencies in its foreign policy, 1870–1945 (2012, 2014). Both books see the the development of telecommunication technology and mass-based politics and the emergence of international public opinion as three major global factors which influenced modern states' foreign policy and their institution making. The first volume deals with Japan's challenge to Reuters' news empire in Northeast Asia in 1870–1934, and questions an assumption of a sudden change of Japan's foreign policy in the early 1930s in a broader context of the development of its information policy. The second volume examines the roles of the Board of Information (1941–45) and the national/imperial news agency (Domei) in the making of Japan's total war state in 1934–45. It questions the often assumed nature of the political regime of Japan in this war period, by showing these two organizations' activities not in the area of domestic thought control, but in the area of news propaganda and intelligence gathering and assessment for foreign policy.


Coming originally from the background of history of British imperial relations, she specializes in the field of history of international relations in Asia and the Pacific in the inter-war period. Using the case studies of people, organizations, and policies of Japan, she has been questioning certain assumptions in international history, which had been (and still are) written predominantly from Anglo-American perspectives.

Her works connect history to international relations and international law. In February 2013, with A/Prof Dubois, she organized an international workshop, 'Empire and Global Health Governance' for a dialogue between history and public policy experts, and October 2014, The RSAP's annual symposium, 'The Landscape of Sovereignty in Asia and the Pacific', continuing to explore this conjunction.

In 2013-2015, she is one of the three editors of History Australia, along with A/Professor Frank Bongiorno and Dr Alexander Cook (the History Department, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences). Since 2005, she has been a board member of the Historical Association of Western Japan. In 2012-2013, she was Deputy Director of the ANU Centre for European Studies.

Career highlights: The ARC Discovery Grants (2012–14) and (2002–5), Research fellowship, the Cluster of Excellence: Europe and Asia in a Global Context (the University of Heidelberg, 2009), Research Associate, the Research Institute of the Asia-Pacific (Waseda University, 2005–2010), Toshiba Foundation Grant (Collaborative, 2006–7), Daiwa Bank Grant (1994–6), Rockefeller Archives Grants (1994, 2014).


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  23 October 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers