PLCP 4730: JAPANESE POLITICS (Spring 2012) TR 2:00-3:15 in Gibson 342
Prof. Len Schoppa South Lawn Gibson S461 (tel: 924-3211) Hrs: Tues and Thurs 3:30-4:30 pm (or appt) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the period since World War II, Japan has become an increasingly important American ally and rival--at once our partner in preserving the postwar international economic and political system and a source of vigorous economic competition. Up until recently, we were concerned that the nation's prowess in manufacturing would lead to the deindustrialization of America. More recently, we have worried that economic stagnation there could bring the global economy to a grinding halt. Either way, it is clearly vital that Americans take time out to further our understanding of this nation. Are Japan and its government somehow different from Western norms in ways that explain its past success and/or its recent failures? Are there still elements of the Japanese model that we should try to emulate? Or are there elements that we need to force Japan to change in order to mitigate their negative effects on the global economy and our own nation's economic welfare? These are just some of the questions we will explore and discuss during this course.
This course examines continuity and change in all aspects of Japanese politics. The first half of the course is more lecture-oriented—but welcomes questions and discussion—and will present the basic contours of postwar Japan’s one-party-dominant and “convoy capitalist” regime, as well as changes in political and economic institutions that have been introduced since the 1990s. We will examine how a single party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), was able to establish a thorough dominance of the system from 1955-2009 and the style of campaigning and profile of public policy associated with LDP rule. We will then look at the electoral and administrative reforms that were adopted in the 1990s and the consequences these institutional changes have had on politics and policy in the period up to 2009 when the LDP was replaced as the ruling party after a landslide victory by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). After the midterm, we will switch to a presentation-and-discussion format as we focus on a series of contemporary issues in Japanese politics.
Large parts of the following books, available at the University Bookstore, will be assigned. In addition, starred (*) items from the reading list will be available in the resources section of the Collab site for this class.
Jacob Schlesinger, Shadow Shoguns (Stanford University Press, 1999)
Frances Rosenbluth and Michael Thies, Japan Transformed (Princeton University Press, 2010)
Leonard Schoppa, Race for the Exits: The Unraveling of Japan’s System of Social Protection (Cornell University Press, 2006)
Leonard Schoppa, ed. The Evolution of Japan’s Party System: Politics and Policy in an Era of Institutional Change (Toronto University Press, 2011)
This course requires students to take a midterm, deliver an oral presentation, write a research paper, and participate in discussion. The in-class midterm, based on lectures and the readings up to that point and worth 35% of the final grade, is scheduled for March 15. During the second half of the term, we will focus on a series of contemporary issues in Japanese politics (selected by students well ahead of time, during the first week of classes), starting each class session with an oral presentation by a pair of students before switching over to discussion mode. Presentations of 25-30 minutes (so 15 minutes per student), will count for 20% of the final grade. Students will then write a 14-15 page research paper, worth 30% of the final grade, on an aspect of the topic that they covered for their oral presentations. Note that each student will write his or her OWN paper, although working together to share books and prepare the oral presentation is expected. The papers written by partners will likely overlap in coverage, but it is expected that in most cases each student will narrow the topic in a distinct way and present his/her own unique take on the topic. I provide guidelines on the paper and presentation assignment from this link, and this bibliography provides you with a jump start finding relevant readings. The remaining 15% of the grade will be based on participation in class discussion.
*Michael Keen et al, "Raising the Consumption Tax in Japan: Why, When, How?" IMF Staff Discussion Note, June 16, 2011.
*Martin Fackler and Norimitsu Onishi, “In Japan, a Culture that Promotes Nuclear Dependency,” New York Times, May 30, 2011.
*Andrew DeWit, “Fallout From the Fukushima Shock: Japan’s Emerging Energy Policy,” The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 45 No 5, November 7, 2011 (online here)
1. MISSED TESTS: You should notify me before the midterm if, for some reason, you will not be able to make it on that date. Permission will only be given in exceptional cases, and make-ups will be scheduled either before or after the regularly scheduled date--at professor's convenience.
2. LATE PAPERS: The final grade on the paper/project will be docked one letter for every day it is late unless the delay has been approved by me (based on a very good reason) at least a week before the due date. Last minute computer problems are not an excuse!!! Back-up your work on disks to avoid losing it, and leave time for you to deal with last minute hitches (like a broken printer, a computer virus, a line in the computer lab) by aiming to finish well before the deadline.
3. PLAGIARISM: Using someone else's words or ideas without attribution constitutes an offense of "plagiarism" that is grounds for expulsion under the University's Honor System. If you are using more than four words in a row that are identical to those in another source, you should put them in quotation marks and cite the source of the quotation. If you refer to a fact (e.g. statistical data; historical details) or idea that is not “general knowledge,” you should identify the source, including the page number, from which this fact or idea is drawn. I consider something to be “general knowledge” if I could easily find this “fact” in three different published sources. For example, many sources tell us Columbus sailed to the Americas in 1492, so you would not need to cite this date.