nl en

Focus 3+4: The Political Content of Japanese Popular Culture


Admission requirements


Throughout the period after the Second World War, Japan’s citizenry has often been described as either politically apathetic or dominated by a system of highly structured vested interests over which individuals can exert little influence to attain their goals. Yet there has been no shortage of political commentary in post-war Japanese movies, television programs, novels, and manga. This course examines the content of such cultural commodities, paying special attention to popular works that add perspective to the history, institutions, and actors of Japanese politics. The course will also examine government efforts to either generate or co-opt popular culture to further official policy goals in both the domestic and international political spheres, as well as pointing to cases where popular culture has had an effect on policy and political conduct. Students will be introduced to popular works which touch on such themes as political corruption, the individual’s relationship to bureaucracy, Japan’s foreign relations, the status of the nation’s Self Defense Forces, war memory and responsibility, radical politics, and policy towards women, minorities and the nation’s youth.

Most secondary literature will be available on academic databases. However, students will also need to critically evaluate primary sources in the form of, for example, movies and popular texts.

Course objectives

1.To develop an understanding of the political content of popular culture in Japan
2.To challenge preconceived notions about political apathy in popular Japanese politics
3.To enhance critical writing and presentation skills through written assignments and class discussion


Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Participation element (attendance, webpostings, in-class assignments): 20%
Analytical element (review paper of 2,000 words): 40%
Summative element (exam): 40%.



Reading list

h3. Registration

enrollment through uSis is compulsory

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte via:
Registration Contractonderwijs via: