Yoshihisa Matsusaka

Professor Emeritus of History


Japanese specialist focusing on Japanese imperialism, nationalism of the Meiji era, and the history of the Imperial Japanese Army.

Tak Matsusaka is the department's Japan specialist and came to Wellesley in 1993. He received a B.A. in biology from Brandeis University in 1975, and after a year of medical school, redirected his career track. Following these course adjustments, he received his Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard in 1993. Among his regular course offerings are History 269 (Japan and the Great Powers in East Asia) and History 274 (China, Japan and Korea in Comparative and Global Perspectives), taught in rotation with Pat Giersch, as well as topical seminars on Japanese colonialism and modern Japanese history. He is also involved in the design and teaching of courses in the International Relations-History program, including History 205 (Making of the Modern World Order) and History 395 (capstone seminar). He is currently developing some new courses on comparative history that range globally but use the Japanese experience as an analytical point of departure.

Prof. Matsusaka's research interests include the history of Japanese imperialism, nationalism of the Meiji era, and the history of the Imperial Japanese Army. He has published a book on the South Manchuria Railway Company, The Making of Japanese Manchuria, 1904-1932 (Harvard Asia Center, 2001), along with several articles on this company in Japanese as well as English. Among his other published works are articles on Japanese imperialism, the Russo-Japanese War, and a forthcoming piece on historical geography. He is currently working on a book manuscript on the politics of the Seikyōsha (Society for Political Education), a prominent group of public intellectuals active in Japan's nationalist opposition movement between the late 1880s and the end of World War I. He has been awarded two National Endowments for the Humanities Fellowships for his research.

Prof. Matsusaka served as chair of the History Department from 2003-2005 and from 2006-2009. He resides in Boston and is married to Suzanne Lee, a community activist based in Chinatown. When time permits, he enjoys hiking, white-water rafting, and kayaking.


HIST205 The Making of the Modern World Order

HIST269 Japan, the Great Powers, and EastAsia, 1853-1993

HIST274 China, Japan, and Korea in Comparative and Global Perspectives


  • B.A., Brandeis University
  • M.A., Harvard University
  • Ph.D., Harvard University