G369 Modern Japan

Diana Lin
Fall 2012

Office: Hawthorn Hall 206A
(O)219 980 6981
Web page: http://www.iun.edu/~hisdcl
Email: dchenlin@iun.edu
Office hours: MW: 8:30-10am; 11:30am-1pm or by appointment

Bibliography on outside sources

Purpose of Course

This course gives a survey of modern Japan, from the 1860s to the present. Focusing on the 20th century, it aims at an understanding of both continuity and change in Japanese society and culture. It covers the modernizing reforms of the 19th century, 20th century Japanese imperialism, post World War II American occupation and the consequences on Japanese society, and post World War II Japanese society and culture.

This course deals with both content and methodological issues of modern Japan. Our readings offer us different approaches at understanding modern Japanese society. We examine these approaches and develop our own in our take-home papers. For course requirements please refer to the requirement part below.

Goals for the course include:

This course fulfills the following general educational goals at Indiana University Northwest:

Goal 2 Students will think critically.
Goal 5 Students will understand the value of the past and recognize the relationship between the past to the present and the future.
Goal 7 Students will recognize the many diversities of human experience.

Course Requirements

The following required readings are available from the campus Bookstore:

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan. Harvard University Press, 2002.

Hopper, Helen. Fukuzawa Yukichi: from Samurai to Capitalist. Pearson Education, 2005.

Dower, John. Embracing Defeat:Japan in the Wake of World War II. W.W.Norton, 1999.

Some other required readings are directly online and/or avaiable on Oncourse weekly modules.

Requirements include

The first paper is a built-in topic that expects you to use the required readings plus one outside reading for each paper. 

The second paper is a  research paper that relies more on outside sources. You will need to find a second paper topic on your own, based on themes covered in class. You are required to discuss your prospective paper topic with me no later than the 14th week.  The paper proposal counts as part of the final grade.

Method of grading: all grades are assigned in percentages, which will be tabulated at the end of the semester and converted to letter grades. The averages of your take-home papers and of your weekly writing assignments will be taken to represent the grades for your take-home paper and weekly writing assignment. The conversion is as follows: 93-100: A; 90-92.9: A-; 85-89.9: B+; 80-  84.9: B; 75-79.9: B-; 70-74.9: C+; 65-69.9: C; 60-64.9: C-; 55-59.9: D+; 50-54.9: D; 45-49.9: D-; 44 and below: F.

The grade distribution is as follows: 

All grades will be shown in your Online Gradebook on the course website on Oncourse.

Useful links:

The following are Japanese newspapers or websites about Japan.
Asahi Shimbun.
Japan Today.
Japanese language and culture.
Japan in the world
Japan Focus
(Columbia University) Asia for Educators
Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies
MIT Visualizing Cultures
Red Haired barbarians:Japanese paintings of foreigners 1800-1865

Class schedule

Map of Japan
Map of East Asia

Japan: Size and Location
Imperialism in China

Week 1 (Aug.27-Sept.2)

Aug.27 Introduction: Modern Japan.

Aug.29 Japan's opening to America.  Online reading: Modern Japan outline Commodore Perry and JapanPrincipal Japanese Daimyo to 1868. Notes. Optional reading: Jansen, chapt.9.

Homework #1: Pretend you are a reporter for a Japanese newspaper in 1853. Write a paragraph on Perry's arrival. Use excerpts from the letters of President Fillmore and Commodore Perry.

Week 2 (Sept.3-9)

Sept.3 Labor Day. No class.

Sept.5 The samurai in mid-19th century. Hopper, chaps.1 & 2. Notes. Optional reading: Jansen, chapt.10.

Homework #2: Briefly describe the Japanese feudal structure and the samurai as a class. Who do you think would stand to lose most if a social transformation took place, and who would benefit most?

Japan's Modernization and the Road to Imperial Expansion.

Week 3 (Sept.10-16)

Sept.10 The Meiji Restoration.  Readings: Jansen, chapt.11, and online reading: Meiji charter oath and the constitutionNotes.

Homework #3: Comment on the way the emperor and the diet's authorities overlap in the constitution. Why do you think the Meiji Restoration planners gave the emperor power in different branches of the government?

Sept.12 Transformation of samurai lives. Hopper, chaps.3 & 4. Notes.

Homework #4: Discuss what social changes were brought about by the Meiji Restoration and the constitution. Where do you think would come the greatest obstacles to the changes?

Week 4 (Sept.17-23)

Sept.17 Meiji society and values. Hopper, chaps.5, 6, & Epilogue. Notes. Optional reading: Jansen, chapt.12.

Homework #5: Name some traditional and modern elements developing in Japan during the Meiji era. How do you explain this simultaneous development of modernity and tradition?

Sept.19 Nationalism, Social Darwinism, and Meiji expansion.  Hopper, chap.7. Notes. Optional reading: Jansen, chapt.13.

Homework #6: Discuss how the Japansese expanded in Asia during the Meiji era and how they used social Darwinism as a justification for it. Do you see expansion as an inevitable part of Japanese modernization?

Week 5 (Sept.24-30)

Sept.24 Meiji and Taisho society and politics (1868-1926).  Jansen, chapts. 14-15. Notes.

Homework #7: Do you see progress in politics and society in the Taisho era compared with the Meiji Era? How do you summarize the Taisho era?

Sept.26 Taisho culture and Showa society and politics. Jansen, chapt.16. Notes.

Homework #8: Again, do you see progress in politics and society from Taisho to Showa? Why or why not?

Week 6 (Oct.1-7)

Oct.1 The China War.  Jansen, chapt.17. Notes

Homework #9: Imagine history could be rewritten, come up with a solution to stem the imperial expansion in the 1930s.

Oct.3 The Pacific War. Jansen, chapt.18.

Homework #10: Did Japan perceive war as the major solution to its goal of modernization? Was the war between Japan and the U.S. inevitable?

Week 7 (Oct.8-14)

Oct.8 The end of the war and defeat. Dower, chaps.1& 2. Notes Online reading: American prisoners of war working in China under Japanese rule

Homework #11: Comment on the Japanese and the emperor's reception of the American occupation. Who were most ready for change and who were less so?

Oct.10 Reforming Japanese society. Dower, chaps. 6 & 8. Notes

Homework #12: Comment on some seeming contradictions in American occupational policies toward Japan from 1945 to 1950. Do you think the American occupation would have achieved greater democracy if the occupation had been carried out differently?

Week 8 (Oct.15-21) First paper due via Oncourse Assignment on Oct.21.  Paper needs to be 8-10 pages, typed, double-spaced. Paper topic: Explore how the American occupation policies affected the changes and continuities in Japanese society, politics, or religion after the war (you may want to focus just on two areas). You need to use our required readings and one external source. Citations are required in the paper, e.g. (Jansen, p.23). A bibliography is needed at the end.

Oct.15 Changes in the role of the emperor. Dower, chaps. 9 & 10. Notes

Homework #13: Compare/contrast the purpose behind the restoration of the emperor in 1868 and the American occupational forces' decision to keep Hirohito in power after World War II.

Oct.17 The emperor and the war.  Dower, chaps.11 & 12. Note

Homework #14: How did the occupational forces make sure the emperor was not guilty of war crimes? Why would they do that and how do you think it would affect the outcome of the war crimes trial?

Week 9 (Oct.22-28)

Oct.22 Evaluating the Tokyo trial.  Dower, chap.15. Notes

Homework #15: Do you consider the trial fair? What impact did it have on the Japanese perception of the war trials and Japanese war crimes?

Oct.24 Japan's recovery from the war. Jansen, chapt.19.

Homework #16: How did the American occupation end in Japan and what did the San Francisco Peace Treaty signify? Why do you think many Japanese would be for the constitution but against the security treaty?

Week 10 (Oct.29-Nov.4)

Oct.29 Video: Reinventing Japan. Optional readings: Sympathy for Japan, and admiration; Emperor delivers rare address on nuclear crisis.

Oct.31 Japanese politics and economy: planning economic growth. Dower, chap.17. Notes 

Homework #17: Give your view of the relationship between the state and the market in Japan, and comment on its advantages and disadvantages.

Week 11 (Nov.5-11)

Nov.5 Japanese society and economy after the war. Jansen, 715-759. Notes. Optional reading: In deference to Crisis, A New Obsession Sweeps Japan: Self-Restraint

Homework #18: Describe some new roles Japan played since the 1950s in the Pacific and in the world: how did Japanese politics change since World War II?

Nov.7 The "apolitical" Japanese politics after World War II? Online reading: Bringing Politics Back into Japan (available from Oncourse Week 11 Module). Notes.

Homework #19: Do you think the American occupation of Japan affected Japanese politics? If so, in what ways? For better or for worse?

Week 12 (Nov.12-18)

Nov.12 Further discussion of postwar Japanese politics. Online reading: The People Who Invented the Mechanical Nightingale(available from Oncourse Week 12 Module). Notes.

Homework #20: Would a state dominated by bureaucrats hurt its democratic development? Why or why not?

Nov.14 Online readings: Postwar economic takeoff.

Homework #21: Which aspects of Japanese economy contributed to its success in the 1980s? Do you agree with those practices?

Week 13 (Nov.19-25)

Nov.19 Online reading: Decline of the Japanese economy: a brief explanation. Online reading: Not Made in Japan. Retailing Chains Caught in a Wave of Bankruptcies in the U.S. How Japan Blew Its Lead in Electronics. Japan's Phoenix Economy. Homelessness in Japan.

Homework #22: Which aspects of Japanese economy contributed to its recession in the 1990s? Do you think the problems were caused by the economic structure or accidental?

Nov.21 Japanese recession and the call for economic and political change. Online reading:The Unraveling of Japan Inc, Multinationals as Agents of Change; Reinventing Japan...Again. Optional reading: The flaws in Japan's leadership deepen a sense of crisis. Optional reading: Crisis in Japan and Impact on the Rest of the World; Lag in closing plant highlights problems in Japan.

Homework #23: What are some changes the authors suggest to get Japan out of its economic recession? Do they make sense to you? Why or why not?

Week 14 (Nov.26-Dec.2)

Nov.26 Japan-U.S. relations, the issue of Okinawa. Gavan McCormack, The Battle of Okinawa 2010: Japan-U.S. relations at A Crossroad.

Homework 24: Why is Okinawa such a sensitive issue in U.S.-Japan relations? Can the problems be resolved?

Nov.28 Aging and economic recession.  Japan's Aging Society.Japan Puts the Elderly to Work. Japan Keeps A High Wall for Foreign Labor. Notes.

Homework 25: How would an aging society affect Japanese economy in the near future? Which author(s) do you agree with?

Week 15 (Dec.3-9)

Dec.3The export of Japanese popular culture. Online reading: Wink on Pink: Interpreting the Japanese Cute as it Grabs the Global Headlines (available from Oncourse Week 15 Module).

Homework 26: Have you been impacted by Japanese pop culture? How do you understand the Japanese export of pop culture as both “soft power” politics and a form of economic export?

Dec.5 Overview of recent changes in Japanese politics and economy. Notes.

Week 16 (Dec.10-16)

Second paper due on Dec.12 as email attachments via Oncourse Assignments. Paper topic: : Describe Japan's postwar development in economic, political, and social aspects. Focus on the continuities and discontinuities with pre-WWII Japan. Paper needs to be 8-10 pages long, double-spaced, with citations. Need to use required readings and one outside reading. Those who are taking the course at the 300 level need to find their own topic on Japan after 1945, a topic that does not overlap with their first paper topic.