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Semester 1

Politics and the Economy of Japan (ASST08041)


Asian Studies





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Course Summary

This course provides a survey of the political and economic system of contemporary Japan. The course is divided into three sections, which will deal with Japanese domestic politics, the economic system and Japan's foreign policy, respectively. Each section is introduced with an overview of the basic historical developments and paradigms that govern Japanese politics and the economy and ends with a final discussion of current issues in these fields. Special attention is devoted to the cultural factors that shape Japanese politics and the economy as well as the historically strong ties between these fields. All students will be given a formative feedback exercise that will be helpful for the assessment for this course and students' general academic development.

Course Description

Since the early 1990s, Japan has witnessed tremendous changes and transformations in its political as well as economic structure. The end of the cold war has propelled Japan into a third phase of globalization and set free energies that have hitherto lain dormant. Politically, the 1990s saw the beginning of the end of the long decades of a one-party dominance. Internationally, Japan had to rethink its role and responsibilities in international conflicts and, for the first time since the post-war years, sent its Self Defence Forces overseas (although in a purely ancillary function). Moreover, the rise of China and the increasingly erratic behaviour of North Korea present Japan with a number of difficult strategic challenges. Economically, recession has plagued Japan for almost two decades and has necessitated painful reform and restructuring. Unfortunately, these combine with a phenomenon that is characteristic for all highly advanced industrial states but is especially distinctive for Japan, i.e. the phenomenon of the aging society. Nonetheless, Japan remains the third strongest economy globally and, together with China, will also play an increasingly important role internationally. Moreover, as the phenomenon of the aging society and the development of Japan's labour market shows, Japan is also a particularly valuable case study for comparison with other advanced industrial nations. This course provides an introduction to Japanese politics and the economy fundamental for advanced courses in Japanese studies, as well as for studies in other disciplines for further comparative research on Japan. As well as from giving an overview of the institutions and actors in Japanese politics and the economy, this course also pays special attention to the role of history and culture that characteristically shape developments in these fields, as well as the historically close interaction and interdependences between Japanese foreign policy, domestic politics and the economy.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 80%, Practical Exam 20%

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