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Unit information: Japan and East Asia: Socio-Economic Development in 2020/21

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Unit name Japan and East Asia: Socio-Economic Development
Unit code POLIM0027
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Yamashita
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


An understanding of Japanese economy and society is critical for students who are keen to explore the Japan's role in and the development of East Asian countries. The aim of this unit is to explore the socio-economic structures of Japan in comparative perspective. The first part of the unit will explore the Japanese economic 'success' since World War II and its serious recession after the burst of economic 'bubble' in the early 1990s. It also looks at Japanese fast-transforming social structures and demographic trends which offer the background of current growing inequality in Japanese society. The second part of the unit will locate and examine such Japanese socio-economic structures in the wider East Asian regional context. This unit concludes with highlighting similarities and differences among socio-economic structures of the East Asian countries, and the discussion regarding the impact of globalisation on Japan and the region.


  • Develop a well-rounded understanding of contemporary Japanese socio-economic development in comparison with other East Asian countries
  • Understand the interdisciplinary approach to the subject
  • Explore Japan's and East Asian countries' social, economic and demographic changes with reference to European countries
  • Examine the impacts of globalisation on Japanese and East Asian economy and society.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit students will have:

  • Critically analysed contemporary issues related to Japanese and East Asian socio-economic development
  • An understanding of how Japan 'works' as a society in comparison with other East Asian countries
  • Collected, analysed and interpreted secondary data and literature on Japanese and East Asian economy and society
  • Developed writing and presentation skills for examining socio-economic structure of East Asian countries.

Teaching details

Lectures, seminars, presentation, small and large group activities.

Assessment Details

1 x 4,000 word assignment reflecting the learning outcomes listed above.

Reading and References

  • Hashimoto, K (2003) Class Structure in Contemporary Japan, Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press
  • Glenn D. Hook, G.D., Gilson, J., Hughes, C.W., Dobson, H (2001) Japan's International Relations: Politics, Economics, and Security. London and New York: Routledge
  • Kasza, G. J. (2006) One World of Welfare: Japan in Comparative Perspective, New York: Cornell UP
  • Katz, R. (2003) Japanese Phoenix: The long road to economic revival, New York: M.E. Sharpe
  • Mosk,C. (2007) Japanese Economic Development, London and New York: Routledge
  • Sugimoto, Y. (2003) An Introduction to Japanese Society, Cambridge: Cambridge UP