The Contemporary Politics of Japan - PO558

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
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6 15 (7.5) MR CM Henry
(version 2)
Autumn and Spring
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6 15 (7.5)







This module will examine the domestic politics of Japan, starting with the changes made by the American occupation. We will then explain the institutions and informal practices which maintained long-term one-party-dominant rule of the LDP (1955-1993). Attention will be paid to electoral rules, the government and opposition parties, collusion between the LDP/business/bureaucracy and voting behaviour.
Attention will then move to how the system has changed since the 1993 election which saw the LDP lose its majority. We will analyse the successes of Koizumi and the new era of post-Koizumi politics. We will assess the current Prime Minister and how he is running Japan. We will analyse the 2009 DPJ government and assess its' successes and failures. The module will end with assessment of the Fukushima management of the disaster and the new LDP government.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

11 lectures, 11 seminars

Method of assessment

50% coursework (essay of 2,500 words 30%, election study of 1000 words 20%), 50% exam (2hr)

Preliminary reading

Stockwin J.A.A., Governing Japan (Blackwell 2008)
Hyde S., The Transformation of the Japanese Left (Routledge 2009)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
- Understand the institutional rules and structures that constrain the Japanese political and bureaucratic process.
- Understand the historical influence on Japan's political institutions and the political culture of a non-western democracy.
- Analyse the reasons for Japan's electoral system and the process of political reform
- Use the knowledge gained from Japan to inform comparative political studies and methodology necessary to conduct regional studies.

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