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SOSCI Lecture Introduction to Japanese Economy


Admission requirements

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The Japanese model of capitalism has experienced considerable change and transformation throughout the post-war period. This includes the experience of rapid economic growth (1960s -1970s), the bursting of the bubble economy (1991), the lost decade(s) (1990s (and 2000s)), the Asian Financial Crisis (1997-98) and post-2008 Global Financial Crisis, and the rise of neoliberalism (from the 1990s onwards). It also includes changes to patterns in finance, trade and employment practices. Students will be introduced to these empirical developments and the theoretical attempts to explain their development. The course is divided into three sections. In the first section, students are introduced to key empirical developments, economic policy debates, and contrasting theoretical perspectives. In the second section, the course provides an historical overview of Japan’s political economy. This covers Japan’s period of high economic growth, the bursting of the bubble economy, the Asian Financial Crisis (1997-98) and post-2008 Global Financial Crisis, and the rise of neoliberalism (from the 1990s onwards, especially as witnessed during the Koizumi Administration era). In the last section, students focus on key components and developments in the political economy of modern Japan, including a focus on changes to Japan’s developmental state, finance, trade and labor. Through these lectures, students are expected to learn basic concepts and theoretical frameworks used to understand and explain the political economy of modern Japan from the pre-war period onwards. This will enable students to critically analyze the historical trajectory through which the political economy of modern Japan has developed during the post-war period, including periods of both rapid economic growth and prolonged stagnation.

Course objectives

This course provides an introduction to key empirical developments in the political economy of modern Japan and theoretical attempts to explain their development. Outcomes
By the end of the course students should be able to:
1. Explain and interpret how Japanese political economy has changed from the postwar period onwards;
2. Explain and evaluate different approaches related to Japanese political economy;
3. Evaluate key issues pertaining to contemporary Japanese capitalism;
4. Analyse the changing nature of contemporary Japanese capitalism;
5. Reflect upon the changing nature of our understanding of socio-economic institutions and agents;

Express and communicate ideas and views over Japan’s political economy and its transformation clearly and coherently in written work.


See timetable

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture and seminar

The instructor will give an interactive lecture in the first half of the class, introducing the topic, the main problems that it raises, the principal authors and literature that has addressed the question, and so on. The instructor will subsequently initiate class discussion. The students are invited to engage in discussions in the second session of the seminar. The discussions take the form of group discussion, presentation, debate, and role play, depending on the contents of each week’s topic. The students should finish the required reading, prepare for the seminar questions (sent in advance) beforehand, and come to seminars ready to contribute; and their performance in the seminars will be assessed.

Assessment method

Two exams in the form of timed-essay. 1) The mid-term timed-essay (one week): 1,000 words (30%) 2) The final timed-essay (two weeks): 2,000 words (70%)

Essay topics will be provided by the course coordinator.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The course is structured around two core textbooks. These textbooks may be purchased from the internet and local bookshops.

Core textbooks (Both books are available to view them online in the library catalogue)
Flath, D. (2014) The Japanese Economy, Third Edition (Oxford”Oxford University Press)
Lechevalier, S. (2014) The Great Transformation of Japanese Capitalism (Oxon: Routledge).
Shibata, S. (2020) Contesting Precarity in Japan (Ithaca: Cornell University Press).

Supplementary reading will be introduced in the syllabus later


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch


Course coordinator: Dr.S.Shibata


This course provides a foundational level understanding of the Japanese political economy and practice upon which students can build in the BA2 Introduction to political economy of Japan in Spring semester.