Contemporary U.S.-Japan Relations

Winter Semester, 2000


Instructor: Dr. Tomohito Shinoda

Office: Center for U.S.-Japan Relations, 304 ( ex. 478)

Office Hour: 13:00-14:30 on Wednesday or by appointment


About this course: This class has two aims: first, it seeks to provide students with analytical skill to examine the current U.S.-Japan relations. Second, it will serve as a platform for the joint research project with the Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies to publish the annual briefing book on U.S.-Japan relations in 2000. Japan and Asia-Pacific (offered in fall term) is strongly recommended for this course. The course preparation, including group forming and topic assignment, starts during the fall term. Also, because of its seminar style, the number of the class needs to be limited. Those, who did not join preparatory meetings, need to consult with the instructor.

The briefing book aims to provide all the information and background that a mythical freshman Congressman would need to read on the plane as he/she flies to Japan for the first time -- in 100 pages. The exercise of deciding which subjects are important and which are merely transitory headlines is intended to convey to students the actual experience of serious journalism based on scholarly perspective. Its is prepared in coordination with a counterpart team of students at the Johns Hopkins University's School of Advance International Studies (SAIS).

Travel to SAIS. Several seminar students will be chosen to travel to Washington, D.C. for a joint conference in late March, 1999 to discuss respective drafts for the briefing book with SAIS students on U.S.-Japan relations. The selection will be announced early February. The students are asked to bear a half of airfare (approximately 50,000 yen), and the school will cover the rest. While the school can issue an official letter, if needed, the students are responsible to acquire a tourist visa to enter the U.S.  

Dissenting Views. Although the final version of the briefing book attempts to merge the research and conclusions of a number of students (including those at SAIS) into a coherent whole, there is no requirement that there must be consensus or agreement on every issue. Students wishing to record dissenting opinions from the majority will be encouraged to do so. 

Concurrent work: This course will be a seminar style class, which centers the presentation of students on the current issues. Students will be assigned to be in one of the following categories: Politics, Economy, Security or others. They are asked to collect and analyze information on current topics in the relationships such as trade disputes, APEC issues and security problems.


Course Grade: There will be no final examination. The course grade will be based three written paper of 5-7 pages double-spaced based upon diplomatic, economic, security or other aspects of the relationship (60%). Paper topics will be chosen in consultation with the instructor. Participation in conference and classroom discussions (40%) will account for the remainder of the course grade. 





Reading: Required reading for each class will be very limited for the graduate-level standard. Each student, however, is expected to read resource materials for assigned field.

Recommended Reading: 

  1. Mike M. Mochizuki, Toward a True Alliance: Restructuring U.S.-Japan Security Relations,
  2. Brookings Institution Press1997 

  3. Walter LaFeber, The Clash: U. S. Relations with Japan from the Beginnings to the Present,
  4. W.W. Norton & Co. 1997

  5. Leonard J. Schoppa, Bargaining with Japan, Columbia University Press, 1997
  6. Michael Schaller, Altered States: The United States and Japan Since the Occupation,

Oxford University Press, 1997.

5. Michael Green and Patrick Cronin, ed. The U.S.-Japan Alliance: Past, Present, and Future, Council on Foreign

Affairs, 1999.



Class schedule


Week 1 Introduction and Topic Assignment, basics of Japanese politics

Week 2 Basics of U.S.-Japan Security and Economic Relations

Week 3 Criticism for the last year's issue

Week 3-8 Presentation of your topics

Each class period (90 minutes) , we will have two students presenting their topics from the same topic group. Each presentation will be limited to 15 minutes. Another topic group will be assigned to criticize the presentations. The third group will be the judge how well the presenters defend their presentation.

The first draft of your paper is due a week after the presentation.

Week 3 Security

Week 4 Politics & Economy

Week 5 Security & Politics

Week 6 Economy & Security

Week 7 Politics & Economy

Week 8 Security

Week 9-10 Role play. Each group will pick up a topic. Every member of the group will play a role of an actor involved in the topic. For example, in the Okinawa base issue, the roles of Governor Inamine, Prime Minister Obuchi and President Clinton, representing Okinawa prefecture, Tokyo and Washington, can discuss and negotiate the issue. After the role play, press conference will be held where the remaining students act as journalists to ask questions to the actors. Each actor is expected to know enough background for their standpoint in the issue.