JAP4530 – Modern & Contemporary Japanese Politics and International Relations

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

In this graduate-level seminar we will analyze key aspects of modern and contemporary Japanese politics, government and international relations. We will focus on central problems, systemic features, or theoretical concepts  involving such themes as, for instance, Japanese democracy, two-party rule, populism, public administration, reform, the ageing society, immigration, depopulation, social and ethnic minorities, change of the constitution, wartime issues, nationalism, regionalism, Japanese views of the outside world, the expanding role of Japanese military, the US-Japan alliance, free trade agreements, and Japan’s position within Asia in the light of the recent rise of China, etc. We will do so on the basis of Japanese primary sources and English-language academic sources. The latter will include sources that provide an international perspective and related theoretical background in the fields of social sciences and international relations.

This is not a survey course, and its purpose is not to provide a general introduction to Japanese politics, or a panorama of (all aspects of) state policy, government institutions, or international relations. Rather, the course aims to go in-depth on a more narrowly defined theme by providing a focused and theoretically informed analytical approach to specific political issues. Two thirds of the meetings will consist of lectures, presentations and discussions. The remaining third will consist of reading selections of Japanese primary sources translated by the students in advance.

The teaching and course literature will link  the covered issue(s)  in Japan to other parts of the world in order to facilitate a comparative perspective and situate Japanese political practices and phenomena  in the context of other societies, political systems and international political developments.

Learning outcome

  • This course is aimed to develop the students’ knowledge of central issues in modern and contemporary Japanese politics, government and international relations.
  • The course also aims to provide an international perspective and theoretical content in the fields of the social sciences and international relations.
  • You will be trained in reading and interpreting Japanese primary sources, in searching, analyzing and comparing secondary sources, and in giving a presentation and writing an academic paper with theoretical and analytical components.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

Please see the admission requirements defined by the programme option Modern Japan or East Asian Culture and History.


The course consists of 10 classes of 3 hours each.

Obligatory assignments:

  • outline of the final essay
  • translation of a Japanese primary source

As for the translation, students who cannot read Japanese will receive alternative assignments.

The compulsory activities must be approved by the teacher in order to take the exam. The approved outline and translation is only valid for one semester.

This is how you apply for valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance.


The obligatory assignments must be approved by the teacher in order to take the exam (please see "Teaching" for more information).

The examination consists of two parts:

  1. An oral presentation (15-20 minutes)
  2. A 10 page essay (term paper) on the basis of the oral presentation. The essay should have an analytical content and should make use of Japanese sources and Western-language theoretical sources. Students who cannot read Japanese may use sources in other languages than Japanese.

You need to pass both parts to pass the course. The oral presentation counts for 40% of the grade, and the essay counts for 60%.

Information about writing and submission of assignments at IKOS.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

Language of examination


Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Periodic evaluation Spring 2013

Periodic evaluation Spring 2014

Facts about this course






Autumn 2018


Autumn 2018

Teaching language