Professor Rikki Kersten
BA, BA (HON), D.Phil

Dean, School of Arts

About me

Professor Rikki Kersten specialises in Japanese history, politics, security policy and foreign policy. She has a special interest in Australia-Japan relations, and in the US-Japan alliance.

Educated at Adelaide and Oxford universities, Professor Kersten has held research attachments to various tertiary institutions in Japan, including the University of Tokyo and Keio University. Previously, Professor Kersten spent five years in the Australian Foreign Service, and served in the Political Section of the Australian Embassy in Tokyo.

Professor Kersten has taught modern Japanese history at Sydney and Leiden Universities and served as Director of the Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific at the University of Sydney. Before joining Murdoch, she was Dean of the College of Asia and the Pacific, Dean of the Faculty of Asian Studies, and a Professor of Modern Japanese Political History at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Research areas

Modern Japanese History; political thought; foreign policy, security policy, the US-Japan alliance, the

US ‘rebalancing’ policy, Australia-Japan relations

Rikki is attracted to the intangible realm of political thought, particularly the history of political ideas in modern Japan. She aspires to communicate and analyse Japanese political thought for

non-Japanese audiences,  and to integrate Japanese thinking into global scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. She works extensively with primary sources in the vernacular. Her main areas of research interest are: democracy and fascism; debates over war apologies and war guilt in Japan; contemporary Japanese politics and foreign policy; historical and philosophical revisionism. Her second area of specialization is Japanese security policy, including Australia-Japan security relations and the US-Japan alliance.


Current projects

Researcher’s projects

1. Japan’s place in US global strategic thinking after the pivot, conducted under the auspices of the Endeavour Executive Award 2012 and the Harold White Fellowship at the National Library of Australia, 2013-14.

2. Japan’s Strategic Dilemmas.  Monograph. 2013-2014.

3. Broadening and deepening the Australia-Japan security relationship. Project conducted in conjunction with the Australian Department of Defence and the National Institute for Defence Studies Japan, 2012-2013.

4. Military Force as Social Good: the legacies of Operation Tomodachi. Project led by Prof Mark

Mullins at the University of Auckland 2013-2014.

5. Turning to the nation in postwar Japan: tenko and transwar Japanese political thought. Monograph (ongoing)

6. Japanese Political Thought after WWII. Contribution to Routledge Handbook of Political Thought. 2014-2015




  • Kersten, R., (2015), Contextualising Australia-Japan security cooperation: the normative framing of Japanese security policy, Australian Journal of International Affairs, 70, 1, pages 6 - 23.

• Kersten, Rikki. 2014. ‘Japanese Politics: trends and prospects’, Australia and Japan in the

Region. Forum of the Australia-Japan Research Centre. Vol. 2 No.1 January 2014

 • Kersten, R. 2013. ‘Japan’s strategic dilemmas: navigating the US “rebalance” and the rise of China’, in Japan’s New Trajectory: economic prospects and security challenges.  AliA Policy Commentary No. 15, November,  45 – 50.

• Kersten, R. 2013. ‘Undercurrents of Sino-Japanese discord’, The Interpreter 16 October

• Tow, W, Walton, D & Kersten, R, eds, 2013, New Approaches to Human Security in the

Asia-Pacific: China, Japan and Australia, Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Farnham, Surrey.

• Kersten, R 2013, ‘Stretching the Japan-US alliance’, in William T. Tow and Brendan Taylor

(ed.), Bilateralism, Multilateralism and Asia-Pacific Security: Contending Cooperation,

Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, Abingdon,  Oxon, UK, pp. 39-52.

• Kersten, R 2013, ‘Governance and Human Security: Lessons from Fukushima’,  in William T Tow, David Walton and Rikki Kersten (ed.), New Approaches to Human Security in the

Asia-Pacific: China, Japan and Australia, Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Farnham, Surrey, pp.


• Kersten, R 2013, ‘Japan’s turn to nationalism?  Not quite’. The Interpreter. 23 July 2013.

• Kersten, R 2013, ‘Japan, the US and the ‘rebalance’: deconstructing the Senkaku problem’, Asian Currents, vol. 1, no. April 2013, pp. 2-4.

• Blaxland,  J & Kersten, R 2013, ‘Escalating territorial tension in East Asia echoes Europe’s descent into world war’, East Asia Forum, vol. 1, no. 13th February 2013, pp. 1-3.

• Kersten, R 2013, ‘Abe and constitutional revision: round two’, East Asia Forum, vol. 1, no. 21

February 2013, pp. 1-3.

• Kersten, R, Tow, W & Trood, R 2013, ‘Japan’s Security and future collaboration with Australia:

an analysis’. Commissioned research for the Australian Department of Defence.

• Kersten, Rikki 2013 trans. Kurusu Kaoru, ‘In search of a more proactive international role: the political dynamism  behind human security in Japan’, in Tow, Walton and Kersten eds., New Approaches  to Human Security in the Asia-Pacific:  China, Japan and Australia. London: Ashgate, 121-138.

• Blaxland, J & Kersten, R 2013, East Asia tension echoes Europe’s descent into world war, East Asia Forum, 13 February.

• Kersten, R 2012, ‘Japan-not there yet, but on the way’, Asian Currents,  vol. 1, no. April/May

2012, pp. 7-8.

• Kersten, R 2012, Japan’s territorial disputes: will they lead to constitutional change?, East

Asia Forum, 11 September.

• Kersten, R 2012, ‘The Koizumi-Abe  Revolution in Japanese  Security Policy: Normative Transformation and Democratic  Maturity’, in William T Tow and Rikki Kersten (ed.), Bilateral Perspectives on Regional Security: Australia, Japan and the Asia-Pacific Region, Palgrave Macmillan  Ltd, Hampshire, England, pp. 29-45. t

• Tow, W & Kersten, R 2012, ‘Conclusion’, in William T Tow and Rikki Kersten (ed.), Bilateral

Perspectives on Regional Security: Australia, Japan and the Asia-Pacific Region, Palgrave

Macmillan Ltd, Hampshire, England, pp. 241-244.

• Tow, W & Kersten, R 2012, ‘Introduction’, in William T Tow and Rikki Kersten (ed.), Bilateral Perspectives on Regional Security: Australia, Japan and the Asia-Pacific Region, Palgrave Macmillan Ltd, Hampshire, England, pp. 1-10.

• Tow, W & Kersten, R, eds, 2012, Bilateral Perspectives on Regional Security: Australia, Japan

and the Asia-Pacific Region, Palgrave Macmillan  Ltd, Hampshire,  England.

• Kersten, R 2011, ‘Deepening Intra-Spoke Relations: The Australia-Japan Security Relationship’, IFANS Review (Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security), vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 139-163.

• Kersten, R & Tow, W 2011, ‘Evolving Australian Approaches to Security Architectures in the

Asia-Pacific’. Recent Articles from the Tokyo Foundation Website, May, Tokyo: Tokyo

Foundation,  pp34-45.

• Kersten, R 2011, ‘Australia and Japan: Mobilising the Bilateral Relationship’,  in James Cotton and John Ravenhill  (ed.), Middle Power Dreaming: Australia in World Affairs 2006-2010, Oxford University  Press, Australia, pp. 94-110.

• Kersten, R 2011, ‘In the shadow of Fukushima’.  ANU Reporter, Spring, p.12.

• Kersten, R 2011, ‘Japan after the triple emergency’, Asian Currents, May, pp. 1-3.

• Kersten, R 2011, ‘Japan, the US Alliance and Asia’. ANU_MASI Policy Background Paper, No. 1, August

• Kersten, R trans & Ueda, M 2011, ‘An Idea of Postwar Japan: Hitoshi Ashida and Japanese

Liberalism’. ANU Japanese Studies Online, No.2 1

• Kurusu, K & Kersten, R 2011, ‘Japan as an Active Agent for Global Norms: The Political

Dynamism Behind the Acceptance and Promotion of         Human Security Asia-Pacific Review, val. 18, no. 2, pp. 115-137. R, Kersten trans.

• Kersten, R. 2011, ‘Japanese security policy formation: assessing the Koizumi revolution’,

Australian Journal of International Affairs, val. 65, no. 1, pp. 5-23.

• Kersten, R 2010, ‘Rethinking the intellectual legacy of Maruyama Masao’, International House of Japan Bulletin, val. 30, no. 1, pp. 35-51.

• Kersten, R 2010, Japan faces political upheaval as jaded voters look to ‘new politics’, Asian

Currents, November, p. 3.

• Kersten, R 2009, ‘Japan’ in R.J.B. Bosworth ed., Oxford Handbook of Fascism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 526- 544.

• Kersten, R 2009, The Intellectual Culture of Postwar Japan and the 1968-1969 University of Tokyo Struggles: Repositioning the Self in Postwar Thought’, Social Science Japan Journal, val. 12, no. 2, 227-245.

• Kersten, R 2008, ‘Deciphering Maruyama Masao: The Challenge of Originality’, Social

Science Japan Journal, val. 11, no. 1, pp. 123-126.

• Kersten, R 2008, The Emperor and the Left in interwar Japan’, in Ben-Ami Shillony (ed.), The

Emperors of Modern Japan, Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden and Boston, 111-131.

• Kersten, R 2007, ‘Maruyama Masao (1914-96) and Britain: An Intellectual in Search of Liberal Democracy’, in Hugh Cortazzi (ed.), Britain and Japan: Biographical Portraits v. 6, Global Oriental (Brill), Folkestone, Kent, UK, pp. 322-332.

• Kersten, R 2006 with D. Williams eds, The Left in the Shaping of Japanese Democracy.

London: Routledge.

• Kersten, R 2006, ‘Painting the Emperor Red: The Emperor and the Socialists in the 1930s’, in David Williams and Rikki Kersten (ed.), The Left in the Shaping of Japanese Democracy: Essays in Honour of J.A.A. Stockwin, London: Routledge, 18-36.

• Kersten, R 2006, The Social Imperative of Pacifism in Postwar Japan: Shimizu lkutaro and

the Uchinada Movement’, Critical Asian Studies, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 303-328.

• Kersten, R 2004, ‘Defeat and the intellectual culture of postwar Japan’, European Review, vol.

12, no. 4, pp.497-512.

• Kersten, R 2003, ‘Revisionism, reaction and the ‘symbol emperor’ in post-war Japan’, Japan

Forum, val. 15, no. 1, pp. 15-31.

• Kersten, R 2003. Japan: three scenarios for the 21st century. Groningen: Centre for Japanese


• Kersten, R 2001. ‘Australia and Japan’, in J. Cotton and J. Ravenhill eds., The National Interest in a Global Era: Australia in World Affairs 1996 – 2000. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 72 – 90.

• Kersten, R 1999. ‘Nee-nationalism and the “liberal school of history”‘, Japan Forum 11:2, 191


• Kersten, R 1996. Democracy in Postwar Japan: Maruyama Masao and the search for autonomy. London: Routledge.

Related websites


http: // au/news/podcast-rikki-kersten-japanese-security-policy-under­



Podcast of a public lecture by Rikki Kersten on Japanese Security Policy Under Shinzo Abe, delivered at the National Security College, ANU, on 12 February 2013


Article by Rikki Kersten entitled ‘Japan, the US and the ‘rebalance’: deconstructing the

Senkaku issue’, in Asian Currents,  April 2013.



Interview on Abe’s Renewed Nationalism with Kate Arnott for Newsline, Australia Network

News, broadcast 29 May 2013



Interview by Jim Middleton on Japanese nationalism with distinguished  visitor to the ANU, Prof. Mike Mochizuki,  broadcast  on Newsline on 29 May 2013


• http:1/ aspx



Article by Rikki Kersten for The Interpreter published 23 July 2013 on Japan’s half upper house election in July 2013.


http://www. abc.



Rikki Kersten interviewed by Kesha West for Australia Television’s program Newsline on the re-election of Shinzo Abe, broadcast 23 July 2013



Article by Rikki Kersten entitled ‘Undercurrents of Sino-Japanese discord’, in The Interpreter,

16 October 2013.


• https:1/crawford.anu. edu. au/events/2544/japan-update-2013?tb=vid#tab


Rikki Kersten speaks on trends and prospects in Japanese politics at the Japan Update 2013 on 5 November 2013


You’ll need Skype CreditFree via Skype