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Sino-Japanese Relations Seminar


Admission requirements

For China Studies Students: a foundational level knowledge of Contemporary East Asian politics and international relations is strongly encouraged.

For Japan Studies Students:
Admission to BA3 seminar of each of the 5 clusters is granted following the procedure outlined below:

1) By the last day of May prior to their BA3 year, students must submit to the coordinator of the single cluster of their choice (a) a copy of their academic transcripts and (b) a motivation letter for entry into that cluster’s BA3 courses and thesis seminar; ideas/plans for a thesis project are welcome but not necessary © a second choice of cluster in case they do not get their first choice. Students can only apply to one cluster. Students who fail to submit by the deadline will be assigned to remaining open slots in clusters following the assignment of all students who submitted on time.

2) In clusters in which the number of applicants who submit by the deadline exceeds the number of available slots, students will be selected among applicants on the basis of their grades and their motivation letter.

3) Students not admitted to the cluster of their choice will be placed in the cluster of second choice to the extent that this is still possible. Final decision over the cluster assignment remains with the clusters.

4) Students will be notified of their admission by the end of June.


Sino-Japanese relations are at the heart of international politics of the East Asian region, but it is often a relationship that is poorly understood. International Relations scholars tend to treat states as coherent actors and pay too little attention to the domestic politics of states. In so doing, the subtleties of Sino-Japanese relations may be missed. This course seeks to challenge common misperceptions and to provide a balanced understanding of the Sino-Japanese relations. Throughout the course, students will be expected to examine the relationship by considering the perspectives of both Chinese and Japanese actors. We will explore a number of issues and questions and endeavor to develop a deeper appreciation of the complexity of Sino-Japanese relations. Who are the key actors in Sino-Japanese relations? Can Sino-Japanese relations be accurately captured by the adage of ‘hot economics – cold politics’? How do these two powers address the main strategic issues East Asian region? How do disputes over how the past has been interpreted continue to undermine Sino-Japanese relations today?

The course begins by placing contemporary Sino-Japanese relations in their historical context and exploring how disputes over history continue to undermine Sino-Japanese relations. We will then examine how foreign policy is made in both China and Japan and use the example of the Tiananmen square incident in June 1989 to highlight the roles played by various actors in the foreign policy making process of both states. These foundational sessions are central to providing a critique of International Relations literature that fails to provide an adequate account of context and that considers states as actors. In subsequent sessions, we will look at a number of key issues in Sino-Japanese relations. These sessions start with a consideration of Sino-Japanese relations in the immediate post-Cold War era, focusing on the 1995/6 Taiwan Straits crisis. We will then examine the common perception that China’s rise can be juxtaposed against Japan’s decline by evaluating Sino-Japanese strategic relations during the ‘war on terror’ and the Senkaku/Daioyu island dispute. The next two sessions address the politics of Sino-Japanese economic interdependence and focus on Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) policy toward China and the question of economic interdependence and peace. Building on the BA2 course on regionalism, the subsequent session examines the issue of Sino-Japanese partnership and rivalry in regional institutions with a specific focus on Sino-Japanese engagement with the Southeast Asian region. The final two issues address China, Japan and the Six Party Talks (SPT) and Sino-Japanese relations in the context of the US-pivot to Asia. The course ends with a concluding session in which we will discuss the main themes of the course.

Course objectives

This module aims to provide a critical examination of key issues and processes related to contemporary Sino-Japanese relations. The focus of this module is on developments since World War Two, but with a particular emphasis on the post-Cold War period. By the end of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the complex issues in Sino-Japanese relations.

  • Apply complex conceptual tools to analyze and critique key events and processes in Sino-Japanese relations.

  • Demonstrate appropriate cognitive, communicative and transferable skills, develop the capacity for independent learning, critique major texts on Sino-Japanese relations, and participate in class debates.


Timeslot 2015/16: Tuesday 9.00-11.00h, see also collegerooster

Mode of instruction


Course Load

All students MUST (140 hours for 5 ECs):

  1. Attend and participate in 12 × 2-hour seminars (24 hours);
  2. Complete readings and contribute to webposts, seminar discussions and debates every week (76 hours)
  3. Write one research essay of between 2,500-3,000 words, based on the material covered in the module (40 hours).

China Studies Thesis Students must (280 hours for 10 EC):

  1. Attend and participate in 12 × 2-hour lecture/seminars (24 hours);
  2. Complete readings and contribute to webposts, seminar discussions and debates every week (76 hours)
  3. Write one thesis of approximately 8,000 words (180 hours).

Assessment method

The final grade for non-thesis students taking the 5 ECTS module will be based on:
Participation element: incl. attendance, participation, and web posts: 50%
Research element: essay (2,500-3,000 words): 50%

The final grade for thesis students taking the 10 ECTS module will be based on:
Participation element: incl. attendance, participation, and web posts: 20%
Research element: thesis (approx. 8,000 words): 80%


A handbook denoting weekly readings will be posted on Blackboard the week before the start of the semester.
Additional information (prezis, useful websites, etc…) will also be found on blackboard over the course of the semester.

Reading list

Yahuda, M. 2013. Sino-Japanese Relations After the Cold War: Two Tigers Sharing a Mountain, Abingdon and New York: Routledge.


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:




Japan Studies Students: This course should be taken together with the corresponding BA3 Text Seminar offered by the same cluster.