• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Non Language Asian Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Tomoko Akami
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2016
    See Future Offerings

This course is modern political history of Japan. It will introduce key political events and debates that were significant for modern Japanese state and society between the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and the present. It will also introduce some important concepts and frameworks to analyse powerdynamics surrounding these key events and debates. The course aims to question certainclichés and national stereotypes in understanding of modern Japanese history and society.

It explores the mechanism of how these clichés emerged, when, and why. It also aims to understand actions and thoughts of people in modern Japan, by relating to them and appreciating what challenges confronted them. The course locates these Japanese developments in a broader international and comparative context.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On satisfying the requirements for this course, students will have the skills and knowledge to

1. Understand the important events and themes of Japan's modern history and society.
2. Critically summarize and examine scholarly perspectives on Japan's modern history and society.
3. Critically examine translated primary sources relating to power dynamics of Japan's modern history.
4. Demonstrate and explain ways to advance scholarly understanding of Japan's modern history and society.
5. Argue a point with evidence.
6. Solve a variety of skill-based research tasks individually and in groups.

Indicative Assessment

Tutorial Participation: 10%  : 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Book Review: 20%: 1, 2, 4, 5
Research essay 35% :  1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Final Exam 35% : 1, 4, 5

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The course is taught as 1.5 hours of lecture, and 1.5 hour of seminar per week. It requires two hours of reading, and two hours of review or preparation per week. Some iterations of the course may incorporate group projects or other skills-based assignments.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed 36 units of university courses.

Preliminary Reading

Allinson, G., 'The Structure and Transformation of Conservative Rule', in Gordon (ed) Postwar Japan as History, UC Press, 1993.
Hane, M., Modern Japan: A Historical Survey, Westview Press, 1986.
Gordon, A. ed., Postwar Japan as History, University of California Press, 1981.
Gordon, A., A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, Oxford University Press, 2003.

The key books used for the readings for this course are:
- A. Gordon, A Modern History of Japan, Oxford University Press, 2013
- Andrew Gordon eds, Postwar Japan as History (PWJH), University of California Press, 1993.
- Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Re-Inventing Japan, ME Sharpe, 1998.
- Harry Wray and Hilary Conroy eds, Japan Examined (JE): Perspectives on Modern Japanese History, University of Hawaii Press, 1983.
- Peter Duus ed., The Cambridge History of Japan, vol. 6 (CHJ), Cambridge University Press, 1988.
- William M. Tsutsui ed., A Companion to Japanese History, Blackwell, 2009.

The reading also include translated primary sources from:
- David Lu ed., Japan: A Documentary History, vol. 2 (JDH), ME Sharpe, 1997.
- Ryusaku Tsunoda, WM Theodore de Bary, and Donald Keene eds, Sources of Japanese Tradition, vol. 2, Columbia University Press, 1958.
- Jon Livingston, Joe Moore, and Felicia Oldfather eds, The Japan Reader, Vol.1, 2, Pantheon Books, 1974.
More specialized important readings for the courses include:
- S. Vlastos, ‘Tradition: Past/Present Culture and Modern Japanese History,’ in S. Vlastos ed., Mirror of Modernity: Invented Tradition of Modern Japan, University of California Press, 1998.
- John Dower, 'Graphic others/graphic selves: Cartoons in war and peace', in Dower, Japan in War and Peace, New Press, 1993.
- Carol Gluck, Japan's Modern Myths, Princeton University Press, 1985, especially Chapter 4.
- Irokawa Daikichi, The Culture of the Meiji Period, Princeton University Press, 1985.
- E.P. Tsurumi, Factory Girls, Princeton University Press, 1990.
-Janet Hunter, 'Introduction', in J Hunter ed., Japanese Women Working, Routledge, 1996.
- Shumpei Okamoto, 'The emperor and the crowd: the historical significance of the Hibiya Riot', in T Najita and JV Koshmann eds., Conflict in Modern Japanese History, East Asia program, Cornell University, 2005.
- Sheldon Garon, The State and Labor in Modern Japan, University of California Press, 1987.
- Andrew Gordon, Labor and Imperial Democracy in Prewar Japan, University of California Press, 1991.
- Louise Young, Japan's Total Empire, University of California Press, 1998.
- John Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II, The New Press, 1999.
- Krauth, Kathleen and Lynn Parisi, ‘Teaching from Embracing Defeat: An interview with John Dower,’ Education from Asia, vol. 5, no.3 (winter 2000), pp.25-35.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $2718
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $3876
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9344 18 Jul 2016 29 Jul 2016 31 Aug 2016 28 Oct 2016 In Person N/A

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