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SOSCI Seminar Introduction to the Political Economy of Japan


This course will be taught online during the first part of the semester.

Admission requirements

Not applicable.


Japan has long occupied a unique position in the study of international political economy (IPE), yet the terms of the debate have changed significantly over the years. Rapid economic growth during the post-war era put the spotlight on the developmental state and the notion of a Japanese model, one that could possibly be an alternative to Anglo-American capitalism. As Japan embarked on a path towards liberalisation and deregulation, another strand of the debate focused on the country’s convergence with global neoliberal forces. Decades of economic stagnation and the country’s response to the Asian and global financial crises recast interest in the Japanese model of capitalism along similar lines. However, the complexities of the transformation of Japan’s political economy cannot be simply reduced to East vs. West or state-led vs. liberal market dichotomies. The distinct evolution of Japan’s political economy serves as a reminder that economic growth and reform is a contingent and contested process, one that is mediated by domestic pressures and regional and global forces.

This course examines these dynamics and how they shaped the transformation of the Japan’s political economy and foreign economic policy since the post-war period. It gives an overview of the experience of rapid growth (1960s-1970s), the bursting of the bubble economy (1991), the lost decade(s) (1990s and 2000s), the rise of neoliberalism (from the 1990s onwards), the Asian financial crisis (1997-98), the global financial crisis (2008), and the post-Fukushima (2011) period. The course traces Japan’s trajectory by analysing and challenging conventional comparative approaches in the study of IPE.

Course objectives

Students will gain subject specific knowledge and understanding in order to be able to

  • Critically assess key debates concerning the Japanese model of economic growth;

  • Demonstrate knowledge of how the Japanese political economy has changed from the post-war period onwards;

  • Evaluate and apply different analytical approaches related to Japanese political economy.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Weekly seminars will include lecture and interactive components. Class discussions will involve a range of different activities (e.g., small-group exercises, debates, presentations) that will allow students to engage with the themes and readings from various perspectives.

Assessment method


  • Seminar participation – 10%

  • Reading reviews – 20%

  • Essay (1,500 words) – 35%

  • Written examination (timed essay) – 35%


The final grade for the course is established by determination of the weighted average. To receive a passing grade, you have to obtain a passing grade for all components.


There is a two-deadline policy for all papers; for those who miss this deadline, this means they have failed on the first attempt. Those who fail on the first attempt—whether by not submitting a paper by the first deadline, or by submitting an inadequate paper—will have one more (second and last) chance to submit their paper by the second deadline.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The core textbooks for this course are:

Flath, D. (2014) The Japanese Economy, Third Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Lechevalier, S. (2014) The Great Transformation of Japanese Capitalism (Oxon: Routledge).
The full list of readings will be provided in the syllabus.


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

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof


This course will be taught online during the first part of the semester.