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Research Faculty of Media and Communication, Hokkaido University

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Introduction to Japanese Studies I (History) 2017

This course has finished. Welcome to the class homepage for my course Introduction to Japanese Studies I (History), which is also called Modern Japanese History for HUSTEP students. This class is taught in the spring term 2017. The timetable is below.

Photo: Osaka Castle.



Syllabus and Course Outline

Course Goals: This course provides a broad overview of Japanese history from the 1850s to the present day.

The course follows basically the same pace and content as Modern Japan: a social and political history (Routledge 2008, second edition; Routledge 2015, third edition) by Elise K. Tipton. It is strongly recommended (although not compulsory) that you obtain a copy of this text and read it alongside the classes (about a chapter a week). The book is in the North Library in the MJSP section.

Each week students will be expected to read one or more of the texts on the reading list (preferably the chapter from the Tipton, and/or one or more of the recommended articles/books) and write a short summary. Fill in this form and bring it to class: MJH Reading Report Sheet

Each week there will be about 15-20 minutes of student-centred discussion during which you discuss your reading with classmates. Why do we do this?

a) Reading regularly to supplement the lecture content is vital. The lectures cannot cover everything and alternative perspectives to mine are beneficial!

b) Your end of term exam will include an assessment of your reading beyond the topics covered in class.

c) The process of “read, make notes, and then teach to others” is an effective way to get ideas lodged more permanently in your brains!

The course will also use the interactive app Socrative. Have your computers and mobile devices hooked up and ready to go in class. All lecture notes are provides as pdfs (I will try and upload them by Friday night before the class on Monday). I recommend old technology (pen and paper) for good retention of points discussed in class … Taking handwritten notes.

Week 1 (17 April): Course Introduction, The Significance of Japanese History

An introduction to the course. The class materials are here MJH1 Intro 2017


Texts referred to in class:

Carol Gluck (1997) ‘Patterns of the Past: Themes in Japanese History’ in Ainslie T. Embree and Carol Gluck (eds) Asia in Western and World History, M.E. Sharpe.


Other recommended general histories of Japan:

Marius B. Jansen (2000) The Making of Modern Japan, Harvard University Press

Andrew Gordon (2003) A Modern History of Japan, Oxford University Press

Brett L. Walker (2015) A Concise History of Japan, Cambridge University Press



Japanese History: A Chronological Outline

BBC Japan Profile – Timeline



Start reading materials. Next week, bring a completed MJH Reading Report Sheet based on the reading you have done.


Week 2 (24 April): Japan pre-1853

This week we look at Japan in the period to 1853, primarily the Tokugawa period. The lecture materials are here: MJH2 2017 Pre-1853



The following urls are in the lecture materials.

Sekigahara Town History and Folklore Museum


Texts referred to in class:

Stephen Turnbull (2011) The Revenge of the 47 Ronin, Osprey.

Charles J. Dunn (1969) Everyday Life in Traditional Japan, Tuttle.

Mark W. MacWilliams (2008) Japanese Visual Culture: explorations in the world of manga and anime, M. E. Sharpe. Chapters by Kinko Ito, ‘Manga in Japanese History’ and Jaqueline Berndt, ‘Considering Manga Discourse’

Week 3 (1 May): The Bakumatsu Period, 1853-68

This week we look at the period leading up to the Meiji Restoration. Class materials: 2017 MJH3 Bakumatsu



The following urls are in the lecture materials.

Visualizing Cultures homepage

John Dower: Black Ships & Samurai

John Dower: Yokohama Boomtown

Treaty of Amity and Commerce (1858)

Sakamoto Ryoma Museum (Kochi)

Sakamoto Ryoma Museum (Hakodate)

Hijikata Toshizo Museum (Hino)

Hijikata Toshizo Museum (Hakodate)

Niijima Yae Website (Aizu)


Texts referred to in class:

Romulus Hillsborough (2010) Samurai Tales: Courage Fidelity and Revenge in the Final Years of the Shogun, Tuttle.

Marius B. Jansen (1995) “The Meiji Restoration” in Jansen (ed) The Emergence of Meiji Japan, Cambridge University Press.

Robert B. Rosenstone (2000) “Oliver Stone as Historian” in Robert B. Toplin (ed) Oliver Stone’s USA: film, history, controversy, Kansas University Press.


Further reading:

Philip Seaton (2015) “Taiga dramas and tourism: historical contents as sustainable tourist resources“, in Japan Forum 27.1

Week 4 (8 May): The Early Meiji Period, 1868-77

This week we look at the first decade after the Meiji Restoration. The lecture materials are here: 2017 MJH4 Early Meiji



The following urls are in the lecture materials.

Tomioka Silk Mill

Old silk mill gains new importance, The Japan Times.

History vs Hollywood Part 1 (You Tube)

History vs Hollywood Part 2 (You Tube)

History vs Hollywood Part 3 (You Tube)


Texts referred to in class:

Mark Ravina (2004) The Last Samurai: the life and battles of Saigo Takamori, Wiley.

Key-Hiuk Kim (1999) The Opening of Korea, Yonsei University Press, Chapter 4. 

Week 5 (15 May): The Mid Meiji Period, 1877-89

The Mid Meiji Period and women’s history. The lecture materials are here: 2017 MJH5 Mid Meiji



The following urls are in the lecture materials.

Kusunose Kita on Activists with Attitude

Meiji Constitution

Diet Library Documents on the Meiji Constitution

Takeo Shibahara, “Through Americanized Japanese Women’s Eyes” (about Tsuda Umeko)

University Founders: Joseph Hardy Neeshima, Okuma Shigenobu, Fukuzawa Yukichi, Tsuda Umeko


Texts referred to in class:

John Tosh (2015) The Pursuit of History (Sixth Edition), Pearson Longman.

Sharon H. Nolte and Sally Ann Hastings (1991) “The Meiji State’s Policy Toward Women, 1890-1910” in Gail Lee Bernstein, Recreating Japanese Women, 1600-1945, California University Press, pp. 151-74.

Yukiko Tanaka (2000) Women writers of Meiji and Taisho Japan, Mcfarland.

Week 6 (22 May): The Late Meiji Period, 1889-1912

This week we discuss the late Meiji Period with a particular focus on war and imperialism. The class materials are here: 2017 MJH6 Late Meiji



The following urls are in the lecture materials.

Russia’s Lease of the Liaodong Peninsula

Clouds Above the Hill Museum

Poems by Yosano Akiko, Yesterday is Another World


Texts referred to in class:

Dae-yeol Ku (1985) Korea Under Colonialism: The March First Movement and Anglo-Japanese Relations, Royal Asiatic Society.

Alexander Bukh (2008) “Historical Memory and Shiba Ryotaro: Remembering Russia, Creating Japan” in Sven Saaler and Wolfgang Schwentker (eds) The Power of Memory in Modern Japan, Global Oriental.

Tatsushi Hirano, Sven Saaler and Stefan Säbel (2008) “Recent Developments in the Representation of National Memory and Local Identities: the politics of memory in Tsushima, Matsuyama, and Maizuru”, Japanstudien 20, pp. 247-77.

Sam Hamill and Keiko Matsui Gibson (eds., trans. 1997), River of Stars: Selected Poems of Yosano Akiko, Shambhala Centaur Editions.

Naoko Shimazu (2009) Japanese Society at War: Death, Memory and the Russo-Japanese War, Cambridge University Press.

Carol Gluck (1985) Japan’s Modern Myths: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period, Princeton University Press.

Stewart Lone (2010) Provincial Life and the Military in Imperial Japan: the phantom samurai, Routledge.

Week 7 (29 May): The Taisho Period, 1912-26

Today we discuss the Taisho Period. The materials are here: 2017 MJH7 Taisho



The following urls are in the lecture materials.

Nitobe College

MOFA: One hundred years of emigration

The Great Kanto Earthquake

Andrew Gordon, Social Protest in Imperial Japan (Japan Focus)

Nishi Masayuki, March 1 and May 4, 1919 in Korea, China and Japan (Japan Focus)

1925 Peace Preservation Law


Texts referred to in class: 

Inazo Nitobe (1912) “Japan as a colonizer”, The Journal of Race Development, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 347-361.

Christopher W. A. Szpilman and Sven Saaler, Pan-Asianism as an Ideal of Asian Identity and Solidarity, 1850-Present

J. Charles Schencking (2013) The Great Kanto Earthquake, Columbia University Press.

Tawara Yoshifumi, The Abe Government and the 2014 Screening of Japanese Junior High School History Textbooks

Laurel Rasplica Rodd (1991) “Yosano Akiko and the Taisho Debate over the “New Woman”", in Gail Lee Bernstein (ed), Recreating Japanese Women, 1600-1945, University of California Press.

Shogakukan Publishing Company Educational Manga (1998) Nihon no rekishi 19, Senso e no michi, Shogakukan.

Miriam Silverberg (1991) “The Modern Girl as Militant” in Gail Lee Bernstein (ed), Recreating Japanese Women, 1600-1945, University of California Press.

Week 8 (5 June): The Early Showa Period, 1926-37

Today we have discussed the early Showa Period to 1937. The lecture materials are here: 2017 MJH8 Early Showa



The following urls are in the lecture materials.

Takarazuka Review

Political Protest in Interwar Japan (MIT Visualizing Cultures)

Heather Bowen-Struyk, Why a boom in proletarian literature in Japan?

Norma Field, Commercial appetite and human need

Jeff Kingston, Testy Team Abe Pressures Media in Japan

David McNeill and Justin McCurry, Shooting the Messenger.

Richard Smethurst, Japan, the United States, and the Road to World War II in the Pacific.

Takahashi Tetsuya, The national politics of the Yasukuni Shrine

Mariko Asano Tamanoi, Victims of Colonialism?

Manchurian Settlers Peace Museum

Michael Hoffman, Is Japan Slipping into Prewar Politics?


Texts referred to in class:

Michael Lynch (2010) The Chinese Civil War 1945-49, Osprey Publishing.

Iris Chang (1997) The Rape of Nanking, Basic Books.

Honda Katsuichi (1999) The Nanjing Massacre, M.E. Sharpe.

Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi (2007) The Nanking Atrocity, 1937-38, Berghahn Books.

Tanaka Masaaki (2000) What Really Happened in Nanking?, Sekai Shuppan.

Week 9 (12 June): War and Occupation, 1937-52

This week we discuss Japan’s involvement in World War II and the aftermath. The materials are here: 2017 MJH9 War



The following urls are in the lecture materials.

Honolulu Festival

Showakan pamphlet

Women’s Active Museum and Matsui Yayori

Rumi Sakamoto: The Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Sexual Slavery

Sadako’s Story

Tsuyoshi Hasegawa: The Atomic Bombs and the Soviet Invasion

Tessa Morris-Suzuki: Who is Responsible?

Kimie Hara: The San Francisco Peace Treaty and Frontier Problems in the Regional Order in East Asia

John Dower: The San Francisco System: Past, Present, Future in U.S.-Japan-China Relations

Philip Seaton: The Nationalist Assault on Japan’s Local Peace Museums: The Conversion of Peace Osaka

Finally … for the websites of all the museums (and many more) see the online appendix to Japan’s Contested War Memories (Chapter 8)


Texts referred to in class:

John Dower (1987) War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War, Pantheon Books.

Eugene Sledge (2007) With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa, Presidio Press.

Philip Seaton (2007) Japan’s Contested War Memories: the “memory rifts” in historical consciousness of World War II, Routledge.

Yoshinori Kobayashi (1998) Sensoron (On War), Gentosha.

Week 10 (19 June): Recovery, 1952-64

This week we discuss Japan’s recovery in the first decade after the occupation. The lecture materials are here: 2017 MJH10 Recovery



The following urls are in the lecture materials.

Japanese Government pamphlet about the Takeshima Issue

Japanese Government site about the Northern Territories Issue

Matsuzawa Tessei, “Tenno-Empire” and the Struggle Against Established Power in Japan

The Constitution of Japan

Helen Macnaughtan, “Womenomics for Japan: is the Abe policy for gendered employment viable in an era of precarity”


Texts referred to in class:

Svetlana Paichadze and Philip A. Seaton (2015) (eds) Voices from the Shifting Russo-Japanese Border: Karafuto/Sakhalin, Routledge.

Yoshikuni Igarashi (2000) Bodies of Memory: Narratives of War in Postwar Japanese Culture, 1945-1970, Princeton University Press.

Sachiko Kaneko (1995) “The Struggle for Legal Rights and Reforms: A Historical View” in Kumiko Fujimura-Fanselow and Atsuko Kameda (eds) Japanese Women: New Feminist Perspectives on the Past, Present and Future, The Feminist Press.

Week 11 (26 June): Miracles and Shocks, 1964-79

Today we discuss the period of high growth. The lecture materials are here: 2017 MJH11 Miracles Shocks



The following urls are in the lecture materials.

Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea (1965), Settlement of Property and Claims

Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People’s Republic of China (1972)

Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China (1978)

Agreement between the United States of America and Japan Concerning the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands (1971)

BBC News, “Japan confirms secret pact on US nuclear transit”

Statistical Handbook of Japan 2016

Jun Ui (ed) Industrial Pollution in Japan

Ministry of the Environment, “Lessons from Minamata Disease and Mercury Management in Japan”

Toyama Prefectural Itai-Itai Disease Museum

Jon Mitchell, “Okinawa – The Pentagon’s Toxic Junk Heap of the Pacific”

Meredith Box and Gavan McCormack, “The Red Army (1969-2001) and Aum Supreme Truth (1987-2000)”


Texts referred to in class:

Brian Woodall (1996) Japan Under Construction: Corruption, Politics and Public Works, University of California Press.

Steven Hunziker & Ikuro Kamimura (1996) Kakuei Tanaka: A political biography of modern Japan, Times Books International.

Brett Walker (2010) Toxic Archipelago: A history of industrial disease in Japan, University of Washington Press.

Week 12 (3 July): Reading Week

Borrow books from the library and/or print out materials and/or read materials online in class. This class is for revision and deepening your understanding in your areas of interest in preparation for the end-of-term exam.

Week 13 (10 July): The Late Showa Period, 1979-89

This week we discuss the period up to the death of Emperor Hirohito. The lecture materials are here: 2017 MJH12 Late Showa handout



The following urls are in the lecture materials.

Manabe Kazufumi and Harumi Befu, “Japanese Cultural Identity: An Empirical Investigation of Nihonjinron

Yoshiko Nozaki and Mark Selden, “Japanese Textbook Controversies, Nationalism, and Historical Memory”


Texts referred to in class:

Ezra Vogel (1979) Japan as Number One: Lessons for America, iUniverse (1999 reprint)

International Society for Educational Information (1994) Japan in Modern History, ISEI.

Shogakukan Educational Manga series (year) Shonen Shojo, Nihon no Rekishi, Shogakukan.

Norma Field (1993) In the Realm of a Dying Emperor: Japan at Century’s End, Vintage Edition.

Week 14 (24 July): The Heisei Period

In our final lecture we look at the Heisei Period. The lecture materials are here: 2017 MJH13 Heisei



The following urls are in the lecture materials.

Basic Act on Education

WHO Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women 

Womens Enews: Japan adopts tough domestic violence law


Texts referred to in class:

Francis Fukuyama (2006 edition) The End of History and the Last Man, The Free Press.

George Lakoff (2002) Moral Politics: How Conservatives and Liberal Think, Chicago University Press.



Revise the term’s work in preparation for the end-of-term test. The test is not “factual recall”, in other words, you will not be tested on how much you remember (although obviously a solid grasp of basic facts is important). Your ability to construct arguments about the themes discussed during the course is the key to a good score. With this in mind I suggest you do general revision across the whole course, but concentrated revision about a specific period in which you have most interest. Choose a four-lecture block (e.g. Weeks 3-6, Weeks 10-13 etc. etc.) and do concentrated reading/revision about that period both using the course text Modern Japan and the other suggested readings. The essay questions in the exam are open enough to allow you to answer about your particular period.

Week 15 (31 July): End of term test

There is an end of term test which counts for 70% of your total mark. People who do not take the exam cannot receive credits for this course. If you are unable to attend class on 31 July, make sure you contact the instructor in advance (if you are sick on the day, send an email by 4pm) to rearrange a test date.

There are 4 short questions (5 points each) and one long essay question (50 points). Attendance and participation in class are 30%. Please note that the points total determines your rank within the class, and thereafter grades are distributed according to Hokkaido University guidelines for GPA.