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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

EAST1270 Modern Japan: History and International Politics

20 creditsClass Size: 70

Module manager: Dr Kweku Ampiah

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Module replaces

EAST1263 and EAST1265

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This is an introductory module to modern Japanese history and international politics and maps out the processes of the modernization (Westernization?) of Japan from the 1860s. The module considers the aims and ambitions of the modern Japanese state leading to its achievements in the pre-war era, the rise of Japanese nationalism, its failures, and the resurgence of the idea of Japan as a 'peace-loving' nation in the post-war era. The module considers the legacy of Japan's aggression in World War Two, and the impact upon Japan of the dropping of the atom bombs. Finally, it explores changes in Japan's security policy, in particular the response to the war on terror, and the quest for a new security role for Japan in the 21st century in the face of new regional and global threats.


The module aims to introduce students to the core scholarship and main debates about the key events in Japan’s modern history from 1868 to the present day.
Specifically, it aims to introduce students to:
- the reasons for the Meiji Restoration
- the development of the modern state and the impetus for nation building
- the (internal) conflicts between the modernisers and moralists
- the external conflicts (Meiji wars, WWI and WWII)
- the resurgence of nationalism
- the nature of post-colonial Japan and the origins of pacifism
- the legacy of WWII on Japan’s international relations, and the move towards ‘normal nation’ status
The module also aims to:
- develop students' skills to engage with and analyse the relevant scholarship and gain an understanding of key themes in Japanese Studies
- develop the ability to articulate their own arguments using appropriate academic literature to support them

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module students should:
- have developed a firm understanding of the reasons for the Meiji Restoration,
- be familiar with the ambitions of modern Japan as well as the problems these engendered.
- have an understanding with the key international and domestic developments which led to Japan's involvement in conflicts since the Meiji period, and also understand the impact of Japan's actions
- be familiar with, and be able to think critically about, the academic and popular debates about the legacy of World War Two in East Asia and Japan's war responsibility
- be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the major changes in Japan's security policies since the end of WWII
- be able to demonstrate an ability to engage critically with the relevant academic literature and articulate their opinions in written form

Skills outcomes
Students will be expected to have:
- developed a foundation for critical analysis of the key debates in the field of Japanese history, politics, international relations and post-war socio-economic development;
- enhanced their skills of expression and communication in both written and oral form;
- developed their abilities to plan, organize, gather, comprehend and analyze materials relevant to Japanese studies.


The syllabus will include the following sorts of topics (precise content may be subject to change):
- The Dawn of Modern Japan: The external and internal threats to Tokugawa rule
- The Meiji Restoration
- The Iwakura Mission
- Economic development, education and social mobilisation
- Gendering modern Japanese society
- Japan and its neighbours: Continental Imperialism (the Meiji Wars, the Asia Pacific War)
- Japan and the region in WWI
- Nationalism in pre-war Japan
- The post-war 'reinvention' of Japan
- The geo-politics of US-Japan relations: Japan and the Cold War.
- The legacy of WWII (the impact of the atom bombs, Japan’s post-war norms)
- Post-Cold War security developments and the normal nation debate

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours172.00
Total Contact hours28.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

1. Background reading in preparation for lectures (4 hours per taught week, 80 hours)
2. Reading and preparation of appropriate presentation material for seminars (5 hours per seminar, 48 hours)
3. Revision for exam (44 hours).

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Monitoring and feedback will take place in seminars, in which students give presentations on topics discussed in the lectures, and during lectures which include some in-class discussion.

Methods of assessment

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc) (S1)2 hr 00 mins50.00
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 29/04/2022 15:23:30


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