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Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies SISEA 242, Spring 2005
Japan in the Contemporary World

Course description

The .pdf version of the syllabus is here.

This course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to various aspects of contemporary Japan, such as its political economy, modern history, society and politics.  The perspective of the course is drawn from the social sciences, not the humanities. Students should come away with a comprehensive overview or survey of a wide variety of aspects of contemporary Japan and an understanding of how these aspects interrelate.

Course Goals

This course is designed to equip you to understand contemporary Japan. I have designed it as essential preparation prior to study in Japan. However, it will serve equally as an introduction for students who have no intention of going to Japan, but want to learn about the country, its politics, and its society. It is an excellent first course on Japan, because its broad exposure to contemporary Japan gives a solid background for advanced study. The course is also a good course to take for students who will only take one course on Japan, again because it is a broad survey of many aspects of contemporary Japan.


Grading policy

Throughout Term                                Quizzes                                                           20%

March 18th                                          Midterm Exam                                                25%

May                                                    Final Exam                                                      40%

Throughout Term                                Class Participation                                          15%


Required readings

Required texts are:

1.      Pyle, Kenneth P. The Making of Modern Japan. 1996, 2nd Edition. DC: Heath. ISBN 0669200204.

2.      Pekkanen, Saadia. Picking Winners? From Technology Catch-up to the Space Race in Japan. 2003. Stanford. ISBN: 0804747326.

These books are available for purchase at the University Book Store. They are also on 2 hour reserve at Odegaard Undergraduate Library. Other readings will be put on electronic reserve.

Course Schedule

          M                                    TU                                      W                                  TH                                   F

3/28 Classes Begin

3/29

Introduction: Why study Japan? & Perspectives on Japanese Society

3/30

3/31

Meiji Japan

4/1

4/4

4/5

Taisho Democracy

4/6

4/7

Militarism and Imperialism

4/8

4/11

4/12

Pacific War and the Occupation

4/13

4/14

Education

4/15

4/18

 

4/19

The Bureaucracy

4/20

4/21

The ’55 System

4/22

4/25

4/26

Party Politics

4/27

4/28

Industrial Policy

4/29

5/2

5/3

Women and Politics

5/4

5/5

Midterm Exam

5/6

5/9

5/10

Work

5/11

5/12

Minorities in Japan

5/13

5/16

5/17

Media

5/18

5/19

Regime Shift: Electoral Change & Bubble Bursts

5/20

5/23

5/24

The ’94 System

5/25

5/26

Civil Society in Japan

5/27

5/30 No Classes

5/31

Crime and Punishment: Police and Yakuza

6/1

6/2

Security and “Cool”

6/3