Spring 2020 - HIST 206 D100

Japan Since 1868 (3)

Class Number: 5363

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 6 – Apr 9, 2020: Thu, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 21, 2020
    Tue, 12:00–3:00 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Janice Matsumura
    1 778 782-5814
    Office: AQ 6008



A survey of Japanese history from 1868 until 1952 which will examine, among other topics, the establishment of the Japanese colonial empire, the wars with Russia, China and the United States, and 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.


  • Take-home test (3 double-spaced pages) 10%
  • Essay (6 double-spaced pages): analysis of assigned source material 35%
  • Tutorial participation (presentation 5%/attendance 2%/participation 18%) 25%
  • Final examination 30%



Andrew Gordon, A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

James L. Huffman, Japan and Imperialism, 1853-1945.  Ann Arbor: Association for Asian Studies, Inc., 2010.

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

Registrar Notes:

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