Spring 2016

email: rloftus

voice mail: 6275

web page: http://www.willamette.edu/~rloftus/

M-W 2:30-4:00

office: Walton Hall 144


Student Learning Objectives (SLOs):

1. To learn how human consciousness, action and agency are historically embedded;

2. To gain an appreciation for how change and continuity, past and present, interact in historical experience;

3. To experience how the study of the past helps us make sense of the present.  

Course Description:

This course will explore the principal themes and issues in modern Japanese history, and will encourage thought and reflection on Japan's position in the modern world. A new component of this course will be a consideration of the theme of sustainability and the environment in pre-WWII Japanese history. What was the "human ecology" of Japan in the Tokugawa Period like? How did that change with the onset of modernization? In addition to this set of environmental issues, this course will take up the story of Japan's development as a modern nation: What does it mean to become modern? What does it mean to undergo a rapid political and economic transformation the origins of which are from outside your native land?

In addition to the sustainability theme, this course will be organized around three main questions:

1) What is the legacy of Japan's long, stable pre-modern period, especially the Tokugawa Era?

2) What is the nature of Japan's political and economic transformation known as the Meiji Restoration--what kind of historical moment or event was it?

3) What kind of socio-political conditions were responsible for Japan's turn to the ultra-nationalism, militarism and particularism of the1930s? And how did Japanese people reflect on the war and interpret their society's turn towards unilateralism and militarism as reflected in literature and film?

NOTE: For every class hour, there is an expectation of 2-3 hours work outside of class.  Our class meets twice a week for 90 minutes so you should expect to do 6-9 hours outside of class engaged in course-related activities such as reading and preparing material, organizing discussions based on assigned on PDFs, etc. There will be sign-ups for some of the readings and on those days, students are expected to lead the discussion and frame questions for the class to consider. In the discussions and in each of the three writing assignments for this course, students will offer insights into the social-political context for the events and periods/topics described above.


1. Regular class attendance (no more than 3-4 absences) and participation in discussion 15%

2. Careful preparation of assigned readings

3. Participation in class discussions and leading discussion with other students on the readings on the environment and sustainability, as well as on material by Smith, Wilson, Loftus, etc., 15%; and

4. Completion of three (3) analytical papers (6-8 pp.) based on assigned readings in which the students will reflect on how the past may help us understand the present and how change and continuity affect historical experience. Papers will be graded on the strength of their arguments, their clarity, and their flow and coherence. 60% (20% each)

Note: I will respect any accommodations authorized by the Office of Disabilities Services. Please let me know about these accommodations as soon as possible.


Plagiarism can be a serious problem which you do not want to encounter. Willamette has a policy against cheating and plagiarism which reads, in part:

Plagiarism and cheating are offenses against the integrity of the courses in which they occur and against the college community as a whole. Plagiarism and cheating involve intellectual dishonesty, deception and fraud, which inhibit the honest exchange of ideas. . . Plagiarism, a form of cheating that consists of representing someone else’s work as your own. When you borrow someone else's wording or interpretation, you need to attribute and cite your source. Otherwise, you are being dishonest. See http://www.willamette.edu/cla/dean/policies/plagarism.html

Also click here for appropriate information.


Required Texts





Michio Takeyama, HARP OF BURMA


Plus a significant number of PDFs on WISE and/or Handouts on a regular basis

Harp of Burma



Useful Web Links:

For general online resources and chronologies click here. See, also, for modern Japan, here.

Japan Center for Asian Historical Records


Weekly Schedule of Class: Lecture/Discussion Topics

Please note: This weekly Schedule is a PLAN; reality may sometimes intervene and dictate that we may not be on this exact schedule.

Please pay attention to where we are at the end of each class and keep revisiting the Syllabus online for updates


Week 1

Jan. 18

Introductions/Expectations for Course

The Pattern of Japan's Past

Web Link for Japan's Ancient Past: The Asuka Period

Jan. 20

Establishment of the Tokugawa Regime and its Meaning: Click here for Daimyo Classification

Map of Japan at time of Meiji Restoration

See screens of Edo c.1650s and Woodblock Prints

McClain, Ch. 1, pp. 5-47

See WISE PDF for Tokugawa Military House Codes

See Link on Tokugawa Neo-Confucianism

Neo-Cconfucian 4-tiered class system


Week 2

Jan. 25

Reflections on the Environment Overview: Gerry Marten on Human Ecology;

Environmental Movements in U.S. and Japan--see PDF on WISE

Tokugawa Political and Social Order and Economic Change--See some data and images here

McClain Ch. 2, pp. 48-75

Discuss "Comparative History Environmental Movement"s PDF on WISE



Jan. 27

More on Economic Changes: Factors in Japan's Pre-Industrial Growth.

Sustainability in Tokugawa Japan "Just Enough": Field and Forest in Rural Japan--see Azby Brown PDF on WISE.

Also, see this interesting Azby Brown Video


General Overview of the Samurai class

General Overview of Merchant class

See also the Bushido Page and Samurai Archives


"Just Enough"--reading from Azby Brown PDF on WISE







Week 3

Feb. 1

Edo Life and Culture: Sustainability

The Practice of Silviculture in Tokugawa Japan: See Totman PDF on WISE

Prints of Ando Hiroshige and Hokusai

See the Virtual Tour of Edo site

Link to images of Edo merchants

McClain,Ch.3, pp. 76-112

What does it mean to be modern?

Read "TotmanSilviculture" PDF on WISE

Look at the Osaka Tonya PDF on WISE


Feb. 3

Urbanization and Cultural Change: Crisis in Late Tokugawa

What does it mean to become modern?

PP Slides: Factors in the Fall of the Old Order from Peter Duus, Ch. 4




Week 4

Feb. 8

Coming of the West: Toward Restoration

The Tempo Reforms and other Interpretive Questions

See the Shinron--New Theses PDF on WISE

Pivotal Moments

"Throwing Off Asia" (Datsu-A) Materials MIT


McClain, Ch.4, pp.113-154

Link: Coming of Perry

Online material on Perry. And here.

Images of Perry

Perry Journal

Treaty of Kanagawa

The Harris Treaty of 1858

Click here for chronology

Meiji Restoration: the Barebones



Feb. 10

The Meiji Restoration: Detailed chronology

Begin George Wilson and read Thomas Smith article, "Japan's Aristocratic Revolution" See PDF on WISE

Meiji Restoration and McClain's Take

Useful vocabulary

McClain, Ch.4, pp.113-154

Conrad Totman's "take," see handout

The Charter Oath








Weeks 5 and 6

Feb. 15

More on the Meiji Restoration: Other Views

The E.H. "Norman Thesis" and the Marxist Take or Interpretation of the Meiji Restoration;

Sign ups for student-led discussions on Wilson, Smith, Norman, and Marxian interpretation of MR

What constitutes a Revolution?

McClain, Ch. 5, pp. 155-182

Sign Up for Discussion of 3 PDFs on WISE: 1) Thomas Smith, "Japan's Aristocratic Revolution"

2) George Wilson, Patriots and Redeemers, Chs.1 and Chs. 5-7

3.Colin Barker on Marxism and the Restoration, sections starting with "The Social Character of the Meiji Restoration"

What does "Eejanaika" mean?









The Meiji Restoration and Millenarianism: Continue Discussion on Wilson, Patriots and Redeemers, Smith, "Aristocratic Revolution," E.H. Norman, and McClain

George Wilson, Patriots and Redeemers Chs. 1, 6-7

On the "Eijanaika" Movement

In-Class Presentations/Discussion on the Meiji Restoration









The Meiji Revolution I: What Happened After 1868?

"Bunmei-kaika" or "Civilization and Enlightenment"

Fukuzawa and "Throwing Off Asia" (Datsu-A) Materials MIT

The Meiji Revolution (II)

Read first PDF on WISE, "Fukuzawa"

On Industrialization and the Zaibatsu, click here

Continue In Class Discussion of Meiji Restoration

For another "take" on the Meiji Restoration, see the PDF "H381 MR Conservative" under Resources on WISE


First Paper Topic


Week 7

Feb. 29

Crafting a Constitutional Polity and Opposing Paradigms: The Popular Rights Movement,

Natural Rights, and the Origins of the Political Parties

Read 2nd PDF on WISE, "Fukuzawa2"

McClain Ch. 6, pp. 183-206

Read 2nd PDF on WISE, "Fukuzawa2"

March 2


The Turn Toward the Dark Side: The Imperial Rescript on Education (See McClain, pp. 202-203)


McClain Ch. 7, pp. 207-245


The Last Samurai





Week 8

March 7

The Meiji Constitution/End of Meiji and the Taisho Political Crisis

Power Point on Taisho Political Crisis

Modern Economic Growth

Japanese Imperialism




McClain Ch. 8, 246-275



March 9

How "Democratic" Was Taisho Democracy?

Read and Discuss the PDF: "The Non-Liberal Roots of Taisho Democracy" by Henry Smith

See some Alternate Visions of Society and Politics

More on "Taisho Demokurashii"

Politics and Culture 1918-1932: Taisho Liberalism and Illiberalism

The Political Context for the Interwar Years: "Imperial Democracy" and The Tumultuous Twenties


Link to the Meiji Constitution of 1889


McClain Ch. 9, pp. 283-315

See some details on Japan's first major pollution incident by Shoji and Sugai, especially sections IV-VI, the Ashio Mine Incident







Prepare Read Brett Walker PDF on WISE WalkerAshio.PDF



Week 9

March 14

"Living the Meiji Dream" and the Nightmare: The Ashio Mine Pollution Disaster I


Read and Discuss Brett Walker PDF on WISE WalkerAshio.PDF as per Sign Ups

Students sign up for Telling LivescDiscussions



Discuss Robert Stolz article on WISE, "TanakaRiverLaw"

See also this article by Stolz on Tanaka Shozo



Prepare Robert Stolz PDF on WISE, "TanakaRiverLaw"


The Ashio Mine Incident II -- See Stolz PDF on WISE

Read and Discuss Robert Stolz PDF on WISE, "TanakaRiverLaw"as per sign ups



Discuss together "Japan in the 1920s and 1930s" in Telling Lives, pp. 24-31

McClain, Ch. 10, 316-356

Discussion on Tanaka Shozo's River Law;

Yosano Akiko's poem to her brotherNew Awakenings,

Read and prepare Telling Lives Chs 2-3, Oku Mumeo and Takai Toshio




The Great Kanto Earthquake, Sept. 1, 1923



March 21-25 Spring Break


Week 10 Discussing Telling Lives

March 28

First Student Led Discussion on Telling Lives: Chs. 2-3






McClain, Ch. 11, 357-397

Read and prepare Telling Lives Chs 4-5 Nishi Kiyoko, Sata Ineko


March 30

Second Student Led Discussion: Telling Lives Chs. 4-5






Read and prepare Telling Lives, Ch. 6, Fukunaga Misao





Week 11

April 4

Finish Discussion of Telling Lives, Ch. 6, Fukunaga Misao

Summary: Taisho and the Interwar Years--Women in Late Meiji and Early Taisho Women;


Discussion of Second Paper Topic




Telling Lives, Ch. 6

PDF on Hiratsuka Raicho, 80-118 and Seito (Bluestockings)

New Modernities --See article by Vera Mackie on "Women and Pacificism"




Japan's Road to War I

Kita Ikki's Plan for Reconstruction


Prewar Chronology

Washington Naval Arms Limitation Conference 1921-22 v. Unilateralism in the World Order

More on The Washington Naval Conference;


Links to Marxism








See Leftist Posters Exhibition


See also fascinating Dentsu Adverstising Museum Pages

Photos from Prewar Japan


Week 12

April 11

The Interwar Years and Entering upon a "Period of National Eemergency"

The Manchurian Incident and the League

Japan and Manchuria


London Naval Conferences; Army Factionalism



McClain, Ch. 12, pp. 405-440



Article on Café Waitresses in Taisho Japan


PDF by Elise Tipton, "The Cafe: Contested Space of Modernity in Interwar Japan," pp. 119-36

April 13

The Road to War 1931-1941 (II): Understanding Japan's Decision

Japan's Vision for a New World Order

Video on Pearl Harbor

McClain, Ch13, pp. 441-481


Read Michio
Takeyama, Harp of Burma





See web sites on the Controversy over the Rape of Nanking/

Iris Chang on the Rape Nanjing

Nanjing Massacre

Comprehensive site for Nanjing Massacre


See Web Links on Carrier Battles in the Pacific

Japan Imperial Navy Page

Week 13

April 18

SECOND Paper Due

"Know Your Enemy: Japan"; Factors

Chronology; Key Dates

Some important documents

Hull's Four Points

A good gateway site on PH attack

Pearl Harbor Site with lots of video, including FDR's "Day of Infamy" speech

See also an aerial photo of ships on Battleship Row

Another Pearl Harbor Site

More on Pearl Harbor






McClain, Ch. 14, 482-515

Start reading Michio
Takeyama, Harp of Burma


20 SSRD No Class



Battle of Midway Site








Week 14

April 25


The Pacific War 1941-1945 Summary

The War in Japanese Eyes: The Harp of Burma (1956, 116 mins)--Begin watching film





McClain, Ch. 14, 482-515

Read Michio
Takeyama, Harp of Burma

April 27

Finish Harp of Burma - discuss










Week 15

May 2

Final Class:

Wrap Up Discussion of The Harp of Burma, both novel and film; including excerpt from Joan Mellen on The Harp of Burma (see Wise H381 MellonHarp.pdf)


The End of the War and the Imperial Broadcast

Reflections, SAIs, Paper Workshop

See Paper Topic for Paper #3






On the" Divine Wind": the kamikaze special attack units

More pilot letters, and stories

See John Dower on Issue of War Responsibility (1995)

See NYT article on War Responsibility

Tomiyama Taeko,Imagination Without Borders:Feminist Art and Social Responsibility


Links on Burma Campaign












Third/Final Paper Due Monday, Dec. 9, 3:00 pm