17.537 | Spring 2009 | Undergraduate, Graduate

Politics and Policy in Contemporary Japan


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Objectives and Organization

The semester is divided into two parts. After a two-week general introduction to Japan and to the dominant approaches to the study of Japanese history, politics and society, we will begin exploring four aspects of Japanese politics:

  1. Party politics
  2. Electoral politics
  3. Interest group politics
  4. Bureaucratic politics

The second part of the semester focuses on public policy, divided into the following seven policy areas:

  1. Social policy
  2. Foreign policy
  3. Defense policy
  4. Energy policy
  5. Science and technology policy
  6. Industrial policy
  7. Trade policy


Reading, attendance and participation are required of all students. Additional requirements are determined based on the level of the student, as follows:


Paper (5-7 pages) on an issue chosen from weekly discussion topics
Book report (5-7 pages) on a book chosen from the list on the syllabus
Final exam

Special discussion sessions for undergraduates are also required.

Graduate Students

Classroom presentation
Synthetic paper (10-15 pages) on Japanese politics
Synthetic paper (10-15 pages) on public policy

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2009
Learning Resource Types
Projects with Examples
Written Assignments with Examples