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SOSCI Seminar Politics, Political Economy and International Relations of Japan


Admission requirements

This seminar is for students who have successfully completed BA2 Texts 2B and 2C courses


Content component:
How is Japan governed? What are the domestic political and economic processes that have shaped its postwar development, and how are these changing? How does its position in East Asia, its constitutional commitment to pacifism, issues of war memory, and its alliance with the world’s largest military power affect its domestic politics and foreign affairs? This course will examine events and issues crucial to understanding the politics, economics, and international relations of Japan from a number of perspectives. The course is divided into two main sections. The first deals with aspects of political economy of Japan, including economic development, current changes to economic policy, Japan’s international economic ties and institution building. The second deals with politics and international relations of Japan, including Fukushima nuclear disaster, war memory, Sino-Japanese relations and political themes in Japanese popular culture.

Language component:
At this stage of the curriculum, we will take the next step from reading, translating and understanding short newspaper texts (2 to 5 pages), as was practised in the BA2 year, to developing skills in cursory and comprehensive reading of longer, academic texts (depending on the topic, between 6 and 15 pages). The three main goals will be to learn to determine and to analyze the author's aim, argumentation and conclusion of his/her academic essay, to write a short, academic report of this analysis, and to add your own comments to this. The topics of the texts will connect to or even match the the topics of the content component as much as possible.

Course objectives

Content component:
1. To develop an understanding of the politics, economics, and international relations of Japan.
2. To enhance critical reading and writing skills through written assignments and class discussion.
3. To develop coherent and clear presentation skills.

Language component:
1. To develop skills in how to approach texts that are too long and difficult to read and translate them line by line.
2. To develop skills in cursory reading which in effect means that you will learn to distinguis those parts of a text that require close reading versus those parts of a text that can be skipped without the risk of losing control over the text.
3. To develop skills in applying academic conventions and using relevant instruments required for the understanding of Japanese academic texts.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  • Participation element (attendance of minimally 70%): 10% for both language and content seminars

  • Webposting: 20%

  • Presentation: 20%

  • Final paper in English (ca. 3,000 words): 50%

There is no resit for the participation element:

  • If you miss more than 30% of sessions, you cannot successfully finish this seminar;

  • If you miss or fail two or more web postings, you will receive a fail for one or more of your required web postings;

  • everyone will receive feedback on their presentation, but you do not have an opportunity to redo their presentation. Instead, you are expected to use this feedback to improve your research and incorporate it into your final paper.
    The resit for the final paper takes the format of a first draft and final version. After submitting a draft for the first deadline, you will receive feedback and may always rewrite your draft for a final version. This rewritten version counts as the resit for the final paper.
    Inspection and feedback
    Instructors provide grades and feedback on the final papers as well as presentation within two weeks after the submission and presentation.
    Students have to write and post at least 5 webpostings with a length of at least 1,5~2 A4 pages (as Word document). Students will receive feedback on the quality of their analysis, on the quality of their academic writing and on the quality of their own comments of these webpostings.

Reading list

Content component:
Readings will be provided later on the syllabus. There is no set textbook for this course.

Language component:
Readings and supporting documents and instructions will be provided on Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Contact information Dr Saori Shibata Dr Mari Nakamura Mr Marc Buijnsters


Language: English for content component and Dutch for language component