Spring 2021 - HIST 206 D100

Imperial Japan (ca. 1868-1952) (3)

Class Number: 5697

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 20, 2021
    2:30 PM – 2:30 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby



A survey of Japanese history from 1868 until 1952 which will examine, among other topics, the evolution of its colonial empire and wars with Russia, China and the United States, as well as the post-war Allied Occupation. Breadth-Humanities.


This course will chart how, between 1869 and 1945, Japan became one of the largest empires in modern world history, eventually controlling over 7,400,000 km2.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most countries had been incorporated into an imperialist world system as either colonizers or colonized, and, in the case of Japan, it had been both a victim and perpetrator of the “new imperialism.”  Operating under a perceived threat of colonization, the country’s leadership merged state- and empire-building to ensure Japan’s independence.  The nation adopted a Western-inspired political, economic, and social order to better mobilize the existing Japanese population behind state policies and successfully waged two wars that led to the acquisition of Taiwan and contributed to the takeover of Korea.

Moreover, although the First World War prompted in many of the belligerent nations an aversion to outright military expansionism, Japan further extended its regional power and prefigured the existence of post-1945 client-states through its establishment of a Manchurian “puppet-state” in Northeast China in the 1930s.





  • First Take-home test (3 double-spaced pages MAXIMUM) based on three assigned readings 10%
  • Final Take-home test (5 double-spaced pages MAXIMUM) based on lectures/textbook 20%
  • Essay (6 double-spaced pages MAXIMUM): analysis of assigned source material 35%
  • Tutorial participation 35%
  • Perusall and collaborative commenting on readings 25% Students will use Perusall, a social annotation tool accessible through CANVAS, to pose and respond to each other’s questions and comments
  • Presentation/Facilitation of discussion 5% Students, preferably working in pairs, will sign up to present their opinions on one of the week’s tutorial reading. To further discussion, presenter/facilitators may also select for group examination some of the comments and questions on the reading that other students have posed on Perusall.
  • Weekly group discussion 5% All members of this course are expected to attend the weekly virtual meetings via CANVAS BlackBoard, do the assigned readings for each week, and, most important, support presenter/facilitators by participating in discussion.



Andrew Gordon, A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2003  Available through SFU Library as online resource (on reserve)

Michele Mason and Helen Lee, eds., Reading Colonial Japan: Text, Context, and Critique Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012.  Available through SFU Library as online source (on reserve)

James L. Huffman, Japan and Imperialism, 1853-1945.  Ann Arbor: Association for Asian Studies, Inc., 2017.  Available through Chapters/Indigo for $21.97

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).