International Politics (Japanese Politics)

J.F. Oberlin University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    International Politics (Japanese Politics)

  • Host University

    J.F. Oberlin University

  • Location

    Tokyo, Japan

  • Area of Study

    Asian Studies, International Politics, Political Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Host University Units

    4 - 4
  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    0 - 0
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    0 - 0
  • Overview

    Japan is one of the most important countries in the world. The third largest economic power and most established democracy in the Asian region; Japan is an important ally of the United States. Yet, its political system and its decision-making process are among the most poorly understood in the world. To many outside observers, the lengthy proceedings of the Diet, the sequence of ever-changing Prime Ministers, and odd policy outputs are just too mysterious to be explained in simple sentences. This course is designed to give students a general understanding of the main features of contemporary Japanese politics. In reaching this goal, the class begins by briefly reviewing Japanese history prior to the Second World War emphasizing Japanese political culture and its development. Only by understanding Japan’s past, can students truly understand and appreciate Japan’s current political culture. Special attention will be paid to the demise of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the period of national planning and constitution-making of the Meiji period. In examining these eras, attention will be paid to traditional cultural practices and how Japan’s political leaders sought to accommodate them while economically, military, and politically “modernizing.”In the post WWII era, Japan’s historical path offers a string of deep puzzles. How could a country so thoroughly destroyed by the United States in the Second World War form with its former enemy the most enduring alliance of the modern world? How could the country engineer the most amazing economic miracle for three decades and suddenly be unable to reform itself in the face of a decade-long crisis? How could Japanese voters keep the same ruling party (i.e., LDP) in power even in the face of 15 years of deep crisis? How could a country known for the passivity of its civil society suddenly witness the blooming of NGOs in the fields of environmental and women’s rights? While the focus of this course is Japan, an important theme will be international comparison. Taking into consideration the diverse student body (i.e., foreign students), an important element of class discussions will be comparing Japan’s political systems with those of the students’ home state. Class discussions will address issues such as “How is Japan different from other industrial counties? Or conversely “How is Japan similar?”