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PEIR Seminar Politics


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


See timetable.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Students will need to read a lot in this course, usually two academic journal articles or an academic journal article and a popular culture resource per lesson. The students’ knowledge of all these texts will be tested each week. Seminars consist of lecture type instruction and discussion. There will be 12 lectures in all. Students will have to do necessary research to complete 2×2000 word essays. Aside from attending the lectures, students should take their own initiative in managing their time to achieve these goals.

Assessment method

In class tests (participation): 20%
Two papers of 2,000 words: 40% each

There is a resit for both essays.


Students will have access to powerpoints and the syllabus through Blackboard. The readings will not be placed on blackboard. The students will have to find these in the academic databases themselves.

Reading list

The reading list, in the syllabus, will be placed on blackboard before the first class.


Registration through uSis. Not registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registrationprocedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte via:
Registration Contractonderwijs via:


Course coordinator:

Dr.Bryce. Wakefield.

Meetings by appointment or during office hours listed in the syllabus.