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Alexis Dudden, Ph.D. - University of Connecticut. Storrs, CT, US

Alexis Dudden, Ph.D. Alexis Dudden, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of History | University of Connecticut


Professor of History specializing in modern Japan and Korea, and international history.



Alexis Dudden received her BA from Columbia University in 1991 and her PhD in history from the University of Chicago in 1998. She is currently writing a book about Japan’s territorial disputes and the changing meaning of islands in international law.

Areas of Expertise (5)


Modern Korea

Modern Japan

Territorial Disputes

Japan-Korea Relations

Education (3)

University of Chicago: Ph.D., History 1988

University of Chicago: M.A., History 1993

Columbia University: B.A., East Asian Languages and Cultures 1991

Languages (3)

  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • French

Accomplishments (2)

Chosun Ilbo (professional)

Manhae Peace Prize


Inst. for International and Regional Studies, Princeton University




Alexis Dudden, Ph.D. Publication



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Dokdo Dispute : Why So Emotive?


Media Appearances (10)

U.S. Marine’s Son Wins Okinawa Election on Promise to Oppose Military Base

New York Times  print


Denny Tamaki, the son of a Japanese mother and a United States Marine, became the first mixed-race governor in Japan on Sunday after winning a close election in Okinawa, a southern archipelago heavily populated by American military installations.

Mr. Tamaki’s victory suggested that Japan might be opening, just a little bit, to more racial diversity.

“It all helps broaden the discussion of what it means to be Japanese,” said Alexis Dudden, a professor at the University of Connecticut who specializes in the modern history of Japan. “And it broadens the reality of being Japanese, at a time when some voices would have a very old-fashioned notion of Japanese ethnicity.”

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Amid praise for Trump, North Korea doubles down on criticism of Japan

Reuters  online


In North Korea, Japan appears to have replaced the United States as the most vilified imperialist enemy, with state media deriding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government as a “cult” bent on derailing Pyongyang’s diplomatic outreach.

The repeated salvos of rhetoric highlight North Korea’s continued need for an enemy to target, as well as possible hopes to push Tokyo into providing cash as part of economic incentives to get North Korea to limit its weapons program, said Alexis Dudden, a Korea and Japan expert at the University of Connecticut.

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Trump’s On-Again, Off-Again Summit Style Unnerves Asian Allies

New York Times  print


But casting North Korea as the bad guy may not be so straightforward in the Trump era.

“The hard-liners who define the Abe worldview will continue with this ‘Look, the North Koreans can’t be trusted,’” said Alexis Dudden, a professor at the University of Connecticut, who specializes in the modern history of Japan and Korea. “But in this regard, it’s the Trump administration who has pulled the plug out right now, so who can’t really be trusted right now? That’s the longer-term challenge: In the final push, the U.S. might not be there for Japan.”

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Kim Jong-un’s Sister Turns On the Charm, Taking Pence’s Spotlight

New York Times  print


Analysts of Korean affairs said that Mr. Pence had missed an opportunity.

“I think it would have been really helpful to the conversation of denuclearization for the Pences to have appreciated the effort put into bringing team unified Korea into the stadium,” said Alexis Dudden, a professor of history at the University of Connecticut. “And it wouldn’t have lessened the American position.”

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'Comfort women' deal called into question

China Daily  online


The upside to the 2015 accord is it acknowledged that Japan had orchestrated a violent, systemic program of sexual slavery in the 1930s and 1940s, said Alexis Dudden, professor of history at the University of Connecticut. "This aspect was helpful," she said.

But the problem with the deal was - and remains - what the South Korean government task force highlighted: The surviving victims were ignored in the deal, Dudden said.

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To understand East Asian nationalism, climb a mountain

The Economist  


When Japan annexed Korea in the early 20th century, the colonial authorities understood the sacred significance of mountains. As Alexis Dudden of the University of Connecticut explains, the peaks overlooking the city of Seoul determined the layout of Gyeongbok Palace, home to the ruling dynasty. Its throne room was aligned with the mountains to channel the spiritual power of the landscape through the Korean emperor’s veins. In 1911, in an early act of colonial violence, the Japanese governor ordered the construction of a massive, neoclassical building to block the flow and serve as colonial headquarters. In 1945 the naive American liberators understood none of this, lowering the Japanese flag on the building and raising the Stars and Stripes. The offending structure was at last razed in 1996.

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The U.S. is Ready to ‘Fight Tonight’ but South Koreans Reject War as the Solution to North Korean Threats

Daily Beast  


Alexis Dudden, a professor of Korean and Japanese history at the University of Connecticut, stresses the importance of understanding the complexity of modern Korea-Japan relations to better appreciate Korean resistance to U.S. demands. Dudden said it is “imperative that Washington planners take seriously South Korean desires for renewed engagement.” Nearly 77 percent of South Koreans want renewed talks with the North according to a recent poll. In a country where one in six families is directly affected by the North-South divide, Dudden said, “the obliteration alternative is no alternative at all.”...

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Japan at a Crossroads

Al Jazeera  


Japan’s emperor has given a historic televised address where he all but stated his wish to abdicate the throne. He would be the first emperor in 200 years to do so in the world’s oldest continual monarchy. He lived through the post-World War II era which saw the symbol of Imperial Japan, the divine emperor, reduced to a figurehead. In many ways he represents the contradiction between two national identities: A post-war democracy and its complete rejection of war, and an imperial history of wars of conquest. ..

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The Shape of Japan to Come

The New York Times  


Bolstered by his party’s victory in Diet elections last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has renewed his vow to free Japan from the fetters of the past, especially its defeat in World War II. Mr. Abe and his supporters view the prevailing accounts of that era as “masochistic” and a hindrance to taking pride in what he calls the “new Japan.” They propose to modify the article in Japan’s Constitution that states the Japanese people “forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation.”...

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Revolution by Candlelight: How South Koreans Toppled a Government

Dissent  print


Any plan that does not include South Korea as an equal at the negotiating table will fail. The calls by some in Washington for diplomacy with Pyongyang focus on weapons but ignore North Korea’s long sought peace treaty to end the 1953 armistice—as if all of this sprang from nowhere. More troubling, others in D.C. favor an “America first” military approach that would immediately involve South Korean and Japanese troop participation, too, making “kinetic” in this instance just another word for “slaughter.” The chance not to have this war exists, and learning from the Candlelight movement is the surest course for this alternative future.

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Articles (2)

South Korea took rapid, intrusive measures against Covid-19 – and they worked The Guardian

Alexis Dudden and Andrew Marks


South Koreans are famously nonchalant about North Korean nuclear weapons. Bewilderingly to the rest of us, they “keep calm and carry on” whenever Pyongyang threatens to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire”. The South Korean approach to Covid-19 could not have been more different.

On 16 January, the South Korean biotech executive Chun Jong-yoon grasped the reality unfolding in China and directed his lab to work to stem the virus’s inevitable spread; within days, his team developed detection kits now in high demand around the world.

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Japan’s Antiwar Legacy Dissent

Alexis Dudden


There is a deep division among Japan’s leaders today over the definition and future direction of their nation. On one side are those who favor maintaining the so-called peace clause of Japan’s post-1945 constitution, Article 9, which renounces Japan’s sovereign right to wage war. On the other side are those who argue that Japan must become what they call a “normal nation”—meaning one that can fight wars against other nations. A group of college students has given most traction to the cause of maintaining Japan’s antiwar international posture. Currently reorganizing themselves for long-term political involvement, the SEALDs (Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy) worked tirelessly throughout 2015–2016. Their message remains clear: preserve Article 9.

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