Beatrice Trefalt

Assoc Professor

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

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Research activity per year

Personal profile


Arriving in Australia from Swizerland in 1990, Beatrice Trefalt first developed her interest in Japan and Japanese at La Trobe University, completing a double major in history and Japanese. Her Honours thesis focussed on Showa Emperor's Monologue: she 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, she was further able to develop her interest in war and its place in national memories.

Her doctoral thesis 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 Monbusho scholarship enabled her to spend two years in Tokyo to carry out research.  The thesis won the ASAA Presidents' Prize for Best Thesis submitted in an area of Asian studies in 2003, and her first book on the topic continues to be quoted in both academic and media sources. After a period teaching Asian history at the University of Newcastle (NSW) she joined Japanese studies at Monash in 2006 and is currently coordinating the Major in Global Asia. 

She continues to research topics relating to the war and to legacies of the war in Japan. She write on repatriation politics in the post-war period, the politics of early post-war war crimes trials, competing memories of the Pacific war and other legacies of World War II in Japan. She co-authored, with Sandra Wilson (Murdoch), Robert Cribb (ANU) and Dean Aszkielowicz (Murdoch) a book dealing with the trials of Japanese war criminals and their aftermath (Japanese War Criminals, Columbia University Press, 2017), which received the NSW Premiers' History Prize. More recently she has started researching the political debates about the repatriaton of war remains in Japan.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research area keywords

  • Japan
  • history
  • Asia Pacific War/s
  • Commemoration
  • war crimes trials
  • repatriation and migration
  • war memoirs
  • Occupation of Japan
  • war monuments
  • war remains
  • Japanese Red Cross