• 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, History, Asian Studies, Asia Pacific Studies, Asia-Pacific Studies
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • AsPr Simon Avenell
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2019
    See Future Offerings

This course traces the history of Japan from the 17th century to the present, examining the dynamics of the early modern period (Tokugawa era), the Meiji revolution, the political, social and economic transformations of the early 20th century, the tumultuous 1930s and 1940s, and the dynamics of the post-1945 era.  Thematic issues to be covered include nation- and empire-building, state-society relations, total war and defeat, the Allied Occupation, Japan in the Cold War, socio-economic and demographic change, intellectual developments, and Japan’s international relations. A key emphasis of the course will be to understand and to position Japan in wider regional and global processes. The course will focus closely on the approaches historians have employed in studying Japan’s modern history.  In other words, what social and political theories have historians deployed and why? How have these approaches changed and/or enriched our understanding of modern Japan? The course will pay close attention to some of the ongoing controversies and debates in the historiography of modern Japan.  Students will be expected to think critically about both the history of Japan and the approaches historians have adopted. 

Learning Outcomes

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

On successful completion of this course, students will have the skills and knowledge to:
1. Display nuanced grasp of key processes, transformations, and themes in Japan's modern history.
2. Develop comprehensive understanding of key scholarly debates on Japan's modern history.
3. Develop ability to critically examine primary source documents from Japan's modern history (including vernacular sources for those with Japanese language capability).
4. Develop analytical reading skills through careful reading of relevant secondary literature in the field of Japanese history (including Japanese language scholarship for those with Japanese language capability).
5. Develop analytical writing skills in the field of Japanese history and historiography through completion of written assessment tasks.

Other Information

This is a co-taught course. Any cap on enrolments in one course applies to both courses combined.

Indicative Assessment

Seminar Participation: 10% (Learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 6)
Historiography Analysis: 35% (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Research Presentation: 10% (1, 6)
Research Paper: 45% (1, 2, 3, 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 consists of a 1.5 hour lecture and 1.5 hour seminar per week. It demands seven hours of independent preparation, including assigned readings, review of lectures, and written assessment tasks. 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 at least 24 units of university courses. This course is incompatible with ASIA6010.

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
2019 $3000
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2019 $4560
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4428 25 Feb 2019 04 Mar 2019 31 Mar 2019 31 May 2019 In Person View

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