Spring 2022 - HIST 206 D100

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

Class Number: 4577

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    AQ 4120, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 21, 2022
    6:30 PM – 6:30 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) based on three assigned readings 10%
  • Final Take-home test (5 double-spaced pages) based on lectures/textbook 30%
  • Essay (6 double-spaced pages): analysis of assigned source material 30%
  • Tutorial participation 30%


Virtual Office Hours: email instructor to schedule a meeting.



Andrew Gordon, A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. 

Michele Mason and Helen Lee, eds., Reading Colonial Japan: Text, Context, and Critique.  Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012.

James L. Huffman, Japan and Imperialism, 1853-1945.  Ann Arbor: Association for Asian Studies, Inc., 2017. 

Registrar Notes:


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Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware 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.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.