17.537 / 17.538 Politics and Policy in Contemporary Japan

Spring 2003

Photograph of the Japanese Diet building.
The Japanese Diet building.  (Image courtesy of the Embassy of Japan in Thailand, http://embjp-th.org/.)

Course Highlights

This course features two sets of paper assignments, one for undergraduate students and one for graduate students.

Course Description

This subject is designed for upper level undergraduates and graduate students as an introduction to politics and the policy process in modern Japan. 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 five aspects of Japanese politics: (1) Party Politics, (2) Electoral Politics, (3) Interest Group Politics, and (4) Bureaucratic Politics. The second part of the semester focuses on public policy, divided into seven major policy areas: (1) Social Policy, (2) Foreign Policy, (3) Defense Policy, (4) Energy Policy, (5) Science and Technology Policy, (6) Industrial Policy, and (7) Trade Policy. We will try to understand the ways in which the actors and institutions identified in the first part of the semester affect the policy process across a variety of issue areas.

*Some translations represent previous versions of courses.

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Prof. Richard J. Samuels

Course Meeting Times

Two sessions / week
1.5 hours / session


Undergraduate / Graduate