Hirokazu MatsuiHDR student
PhD Thesis Title (Working): ‘Australian Foreign Policy towards Japan’s Changing International Status: From a Former Enemy to an Economic Power’
Hirokazu’s PhD thesis will deal with the Australia-Japan political relations during the early Cold War, especially over developments in South East Asia. This aspect of the Australia-Japan relations during that era has not been paid much attention by existing literature which tended to argue that trade had dominated the bilateral relations especially until the 1970s and that developments in other aspects came after the 1970s-1980s. However, since both Australia and Japan were among key regional actors, their interactions regarding political developments in their region can be regarded as a potentially important theme in considering the history of the post-WWII Asia–Pacific and thus deserve scholarly attention.
His thesis will examine; (1) how the then Australian government perceived and responded to a rapid change in Japan’s international status in the 1950s and the 1960s; (2) what kind of relationship Australia and Japan built over their region, especially South East Asia during these decades; (3) factors that facilitated cooperation between Australia and Japan regarding regional affairs, if any; (4) limitations that were imposed on this relationship, and; (5) how this relationship had an implication for wider regional environment, especially regional organisations involved in aid to developing countries in Asia.
His thesis will be able to contribute original knowledge by testing whether a narrative centered on economic complementarity between Australia and Japan can be applied to other aspects of the bilateral relations. Also, His ability to integrate Japanese archival sources with Australian, British and American ones will enable his thesis to apply a fresh perspective to the post-WWII Australia-Japan relations.
Why do you pursue a PhD/HDR?
Because I like to think thoroughly about a historical subject which I am interested in, while taking advantage of archival sources that enable me to examine the subject from a variety of perspectives.
What has been the highlight of your candidature so far?
Colloquium that took place in early April, 2020. I needed to do much preparatory work for it. Especially, preparing a colloquium document was a daunting task for me. However, it was done in friendly atmosphere and I found that it was a good opportunity to get feedback. In retrospect, it enabled me to feel a bit more confident about completing my PhD not only by allowing me to see responses from experts other than my supervisors but also by forcing me to write a full-scale academic document by myself at an early stage of PhD. I feel that the latter point may be quite significant for me, as I am not a native speaker of English.
What has been the most unexpected moment of your candidature so far?
Although this is not a moment, the coronavirus pandemic was, is and will be the most unexpected. My research is dependent upon travel to archives. Thus, impact of travel restrictions is huge. As a response to this impact, I will seek to use online resources as much as possible.
Three guests from my field/area who are invited to a dinner party.
If I exclude my supervisors with whom I regularly talk, I would like to choose Neville Meaney, Alan Rix and David Walton, all of whom have great expertise on Australia’s post-WWII relations with the rest of the world including Japan.
What would you like to do after you finish your HDR?
Ideally, I want to get a job which allow me to continue to pursue my interests, whether at university or outside university. If this is about immediately after finishing my HDR, I may want to go around Australia and visit various places in this vast country, because places that I will be able to visit during my candidature will be confined to cities that have archives relevant to my research. E.g.) Canberra, Melbourne, etc.
What do I do to relax and unwind after a long day of research/writing?
Taking a bath, jogging, browsing comics etc.
Rituals that help you get in the writing mode/vibe/mindset?
No, I do not have special rituals. However, I try to spend the daytime writing something relevant to my research or revising what I wrote, while I put an emphasis upon reading after dinner.