Introduction to Japanese Society

This is the course webpage for Introduction to Japanese Society, Monday Period 3.

Syllabus: 19J2003-日本社会入門
Grading Explanation (Attendance, Active Learning Reading Report, End-of-term Exam): Introduction to Japanese Society Rubric
Active Learning Reading Report: Active Learning Reading Report (Word)Active Learning Reading Report (PDF)

General Reading List:
The following six books are the basic resources for this course. Readings from them appropriate to the lecture each week are listed under “Suggested Reading”:
1) Statistical Handbook of Japan 2019 (“Handbook”)
2) Yoshio Sugimoto, An Introduction to Japanese Society, Cambridge University Press.
3) Joy Hendry, Understanding Japanese Society, Routledge.
4) Jeff Kingston (ed), Critical Issues in Contemporary Japan, Routledge.
5) Peter Matanle, Anthony Rausch with the Shrinking Regions Research Group, Japan’s Shrinking Regions in the 21st Century, Cambria Press.
6) Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, Random House.ケイト・ラワース、「ドーナツ経済学が世界を救う」(河出書房新社、2018年)

Week 1 (7 October) : The Japanese Archipelago – geography, climate, territory

Lecture Materials: 20191007 Introduction

Articles: The Science, from; Guardian, “The climate crisis explained in 10 charts”;

Other links: IPCC “AR5 Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” (esp. Part B Regional Aspects Asia); Ministry of the Environment et al, “Climate Change in Japan and its Impacts”; WWF Report, “Nippon Changes”.

Suggested Reading: Handbook Chapter 1, Hendry Chapter 1.

Week 2 (14 October): Population – population shrinkage, rural depopulation, aging society

NB: Due to Typhoon 19 and its effects on graduate school entrance exams (rearranged from the 13th to the 14th), I can only attend the first 5-10 minutes of class today. Please look through the lecture materials and Handbook Chapter 2. Then do an Active Learning Reading Report for one of the articles/videos (Matanle article, OR Muramatsu & Akiyama article , OR Raworth video) listed below. Note that this ALRR only counts as attendance in Week 2 and is not one of the five compulsory ALRRs (in other words, not submitting the report counts as an Absence in Week 2). Print it out and bring it to class on 21 October.

I will tell the “Yubari Story” at the beginning of class in Week 3 (first 15 minutes of class on 21 October).

Lecture Materials: 20191014 Population

Articles: Peter Matanle, “Towards an Asia-Pacific ‘Depopulation Dividend’ in the 21st Century” and “The Depopulation Dividend”; Muramatsu & Akiyama, “Japan: Super-Aging Society Preparing for the Future”; Kate Raworth (Video), “A Healthy Economy Should Be Designed to Thrive, Not Grow”.

Suggested Reading: Handbook Chapter 2; Kingston Chapter 14. Matanle et al, Japan’s Shrinking Regions in the 21st Century (Cambria Press 2011).

Week 3 (21 October): Multicultural Japan – minorities, urban vs rural, prefectural characteristics

Lecture Materials: 20191021 Multicultural Japan

Articles: Chris Burgess, “Multicultural Japan? Discourse and the ‘Myth’ of Homogeneity “; Kim-Wachutka, “When Women Perform Hate Speech: Gender, Patriotism, and Social Empowerment in Japan”; Uemura and Gayman, “Rethinking Japan’s Constitution from the Perspective of the Ainu and Ryukyu Peoples”.

Other links: Japan Rugby, Equaldex,, Barrier Free Japan, President Online, Kenmin Show, Statistics Japan.

Suggested Reading: Handbook Chapter 2; Sugimoto Chapters 1, 3, 7; Hendry Chapter 4; Kingston Chapters 16, 19. Plus, Eiji Oguma, A Genealogy of Japanese Self-Images (Trans Pacific Press 2002)、小熊英二、「単一民族神話の起源」(新曜社、1995年)

Week 4 (28 October): The State – parliament, bureaucracy, local authorities

Lecture Materials: 20191028 Politics

Articles:  Koichi Nakano, “Contemporary Political Dynamics of Japanese Nationalism”; Emma Dalton, “Japanese politics still a man’s world”; Ichiko Fuyuno, “What price will science pay for austerity?”; van Asselt, Kanie & Iguchi, “Japan’s position in international climate policy: navigating between Kyoto and the APP”; Anthony Rausch, “Post Heisei Merger Japan”.

Other links: 2019 Election Results (NHK)2017 Election Results (Wikipedia)The Constitution of JapanHereditary PoliticiansCorruption Index; Ministry of the Environment, “Environmental Policy”; CLAIR, “Municipal Mergers in Japan”.

Suggested Reading: Handbook Chapter 17; Sugimoto Chapter 8, 10; Hendry Chapter 11-12; Kingston Chapters 1-5, 20. Plus, Ian Neary, The State and Politics in Japan (Polity Press 2019).

Week 5 (4 November): The Economy – industry, agriculture, business

Lecture Materials: 20191104 Economy

Articles: Government Presentation of Abenomics; Inoue, “Inequality and precarity in Japan”; World Economic Forum, “Abenomics, five years in”; China vs Japan GDP; Economic effects of 3/11Ministry of the Environment et al, “Climate Change in Japan and its Impacts”; Japan’s fisheries collapse. And The Washington Post, “The Climate Change Reaction that Threatens the Heart of the Pacific”

Suggested Reading: Handbook Chapters 3-6, 10. Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics.

Week 6 (11 November): Work – full-time work, part-time work, male-female (in)equality

Lecture Materials: 20191111 Work and Gender

Articles: Scott North, “Limited Regular Employment and the Reform of Japan’s Division of Labor”; Samuel J. Timinsky, “The Nation That Never Rests: Japan’s Debate Over Work-Life Balance and Work that Kills”; Helen Macnaughtan, “Womenomics for Japan”; Stephanie Assmann, “Gender Equality in Japan”;  Chelsea Szendi Schieder, “A “Necessary Evil”? Keeping Women Out of Medical Schools Won’t Fix What Ails the Japanese Medical Profession”; David McNeill, “Justice Postponed: Ito Shiori and Rape in Japan”; Emi Yasuda, “Sexism in the Age of the ‘Shining Woman'”; Allison Alexy and Emma Cook (Eds), Intimate Japan: Ethnographies of Closeness and Conflict (University of Hawaii Press 2019).

Other links: OECD hours worked statistics; Government of Japan, “Women’s Empowerment”; UNDP Gender Inequality Index; BBC, Japan glasses ban;
Suggested Reading: Handbook Chapter 12; Sugimoto Chapter 4; Hendry Chapter 9.

Week 7 (18 November): Households – family structure, housing, declining birthrates

Lecture Materials: 20191118 Households

Articles: Michael Fisch, “The Rise of the Chapel Wedding in Japan”; Allison Alexy and Emma Cook (Eds), Intimate Japan: Ethnographies of Closeness and Conflict (University of Hawaii Press 2019).

Other Links: The “solitary death” phenomenon”Spouses must share a surname; Example of adult male adoption; Divorce in Japan; Childcare problems (Die Japan! blog); Shibuya gives same-sex couples marriage certificates; Gay couples sue over right to marry; Reforming the constitution to allow gay marriage; The Hague Convention (on parental child abduction);  Foreign parents battle the Japanese system on child abduction.

Suggested Reading: Handbook Chapters 1, 13, 14; Sugimoto Chapter 6; Hendry Chapters 7-8; Kingston Chapters 15, 17.

Active Learning: Book Report

Week 8 (2 December): Class – “middle class Japan”, wealth and poverty

Lecture Materials: 20191202 Class and Wealth

Articles: BBC, “Huge survey reveals seven social classes in UK”; Yoshio Sugimoto, “Class and Work in Cultural Capitalism”; Guardian, “Japanese princess quits palace to marry commoner”; Washington Post, “The last retreat of Japan’s nobility”; Japan Times, “Where are they now?”; Yuriko Koike, “Why inequality is different in Japan”; YouTube, “Working Poor in Japan”; Reuters, “Japan’s working poor left behind by Abenomics”;  YouTube, “Why Japan’s homeless are different …” and Part II; Tom Gill, “Failed manhood on the streets of urban Japan”; Tiefenbach and Kohlbacher, “Happiness and life satisfaction in Japan by gender and age”;, “A disastrous kanji of the year?”; Guardian, “The three degree world”

Other links: Imperial family genealogy; Forbes, “Japan’s 50 richest people”; OECD, “Poverty rate”; “This Year’s Kanji”

Suggested Reading: Handbook Chapters 13, 15; Sugimoto Chapter 2; Hendry Chapter 6. Goodman, Imoto & Toivonen (Eds), A Sociology of Japanese Youth (Routledge 2012). Emma Cook, Reconstructing Adult Masculinities (Routledge 2016).

Week 9 (9 December): Education – compulsory education, higher education, qualifications and training

Lecture Materials: 20191209 Education

Articles: MEXT, Japan’s Modern Educational System; Mark Mullins, “Neonationalism, Religion, and Patriotic Education in Post-disaster Japan”; Selden and Nozaki, “Japanese Textbook Controversies, Nationalism and Historical Memory”; Hiroyuki Nomoto, “Multicultural and Multiethnic Education in Japan”; NIEPR, “Special Needs Education in Japan”; Reuters, “Japan’s disability stigma in spotlight”; Ben Dorman, “Looking in the Mirror”; NIER, “Gender Equality in Education in Japan”; NHK, “Nobel Laureates Sound Alarm over Japan’s Basic Research”; France 24, “Used and Abused”; Guardian, “Fears of Exploitation”.

Other Links: MEXT, Overview of Japan’s Education System; MEXT, White Papers; MOFA, Textbook Examination Procedure; OECD, Public Spending on Education; MEXT, Special Needs Education; PISA results; Environmental Awareness; TOEFL Score Data; Japan’s Nobel Laureates; Contingent Faculty in US Higher Education; UK University Strike; JITCO, Technical Intern Training Program; JASSO, International Students in Japan; Missing Research Students;  Warning on Language Study in Japan.

Suggested Reading: Handbook Chapters 8 & 16; Sugimoto Chapter 5; Hendry Chapters 3, 5; Kingston Chapter 18.

Week 10 (16 December): Leisure – sport, pop culture, entertainment

Lecture Materials:
Links: Robin Kietlinski, “Sports, Motherhood, and the Female Body in Contemporary Japan”. Philip Seaton et al, Contents Tourism in Japan (Cambria Press 2017).
Suggested Reading: Handbook Chapter 16; Sugimoto Chapter 6; Hendry Chapter 10.

Week 11 (23 December): The Environment – disasters, energy, nature

Lecture Materials:
Links: Matanle, Littler and Slay, “Imagining Disasters in the Era of Climate Change”. Andrew DeWit, “Hiroshima’s Disaster, Climate Crisis, and the Future of the Resilient City”. Jeff Kingston (ed), Natural Disaster and Nuclear Crisis in Japan (Routledge 2012).
Suggested Reading: Handbook Chapters 7, 14; Kingston Chapters 6-9.

Week 12 (6 January): The Movement of People – relocation, migration, tourism

Lecture Materials:
Links: Nobuko Adachi, “Ethnic Identity, Culture and Race”.
Suggested Reading: Handbook Chapter 9.

Week 13 (20 January): Japan in International Society – international relations, defense, contributions to international society

Lecture Materials:
Links: Ministry of Defense, Defense of Japan (White Paper). MOFA, Japan and the United Nations.
Suggested Reading: Handbook Chapter 11, Kingston Chapters 10-13, 21-22.

End-of-term Exam (Date TBC)