My name is Aki Tonami. I am from Japan and an Associate Professor of International Relations and Economics at the Faculty of Business Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan. Before returning to Japan in 2016, I lived and worked in Europe for a decade, including the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark.

While working at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, we began a project titled ‘Asia in a Changing Arctic’ at a time when the Arctic Council was still discussing whether to admit Asian applicants seeking Observer status. Through that project, I visited and met various stakeholders in/from the Arctic states, explaining Asian states’ views on the Arctic as well as learning more about the Arctic region and how the rest of the globe looks from an Arctic perspective. I became more interested in the Arctic as I learned more about its history, politics, economy and of course its natural environment. But what I find very special about the Arctic is the strong sense of community I have found there – it’s not always easy to travel from Japan to the Arctic Region, but whenever I do, I feel welcomed and part of something positive.

As to my research I have always said I am not an Arctic scholar per se, but a scholar of International Political Economy. I do not claim to know the Arctic as well as Arctic scholars, but I know a thing or two about how Asian states – whose presence has become ever more visible in the Arctic in recent years – view the Arctic. Following my return to Japan, I have been active in the Japanese Arctic research community, also trying to raise issues from the perspective of a woman involved in, and with an affinity for the Arctic.

You can find some of my work at or my recent activities on Twitter: @atonton28

Publications include:

Tonami, Aki. 2018. “Exporting the developmental state: Japan’s economic diplomacy in the Arctic.” Third World Quarterly 39(6): 1211-1225.

Tonami, Aki. 2017. “Influencing the imaged ‘polar regions’: the politics of Japan’s Arctic and Antarctic policies.” Polar Record 53(5): 489-497.

Tonami, Aki. 2016. Asian Foreign Policy in a Changing Arctic: The Diplomacy of Economy and Science at New Frontiers. Palgrave Macmillan.

Tonami, Aki. 2014. “The Arctic policy of China and Japan: multi-layered economic and strategic motivations.” The Polar Journal 4(1): 105-126.

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