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Kunika Kakuta

Kunika Kakuta

  • PhD students

PhD Candidate


Kunika Kakuta is a final year PhD student in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, supervised by Professor Andrew Lambert and Dr Alessio Patalano. She is also part of the Laughton Naval Unit. Prior to joining the Department of War Studies in October 2016, Kunika read Classics at Royal Holloway, University of London and read intercollegiate MA in Ancient History at Royal Holloway, King’s College London, and University College London.

She also teaches BA undergraduate students in the Department of War Studies and Intermediate Officer Development courses at the Joint Services Command and Staff College at the UK Defence Academy in Shrivenham.

Doctoral research

Empire of the Rising Sun and the Empire of the Owl: A comparative approach to Seapower as political and cultural identity in Imperial Japan (1868-1922) and 5th- Century BC Athens

Her thesis aims to establish a comparative history project between Imperial Japan and Classical Athens of fifth Century BC. In which she focuses on the developments of the Imperial Japanese navy and the Athenian Navy of the fifth century BC, and their respective political systems. In particularly how elites understood the significance of public finance for navies, and the influence of the different political constitutions. Through a comparison with the Meiji Japan, which centralised previously existed clan-politics of the Tokugawa Shōgunate and the naval forces after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, she argues that Themistocles did not revolutionise the Athenian financial system to become a seapower. Instead, he exploited and modified the political institution and the concepts of public finance that already existed to advance the sea power strategy in Athens in 483. Themistocles’ ‘revolution’ allowed the elite class of Cleisthenian reform to grip the control of politics, finance, and foreign policy of Athens further and thus, indirectly, of the lowest class thetes, those who crewed the triremes. In a similar manner, the thesis also questions the overemphasised link between democracy and seapower, arguing that the Athenian navy was not a naval mob (nautikos ochlos), and it was not the navy that led to the downfall of the Athenian archē, but the elite politicians’ reckless personal greed, just like their Imperial Japanese counterparts.

Research interests

Ancient Warfare, Imperial Japanese Navy, Classical Athenian Navy, Naval History and Strategy


Primary Supervisor: Prof. Andrew Lambert

Secondary Supervisor: Dr Alessio Patalano