Contemporary China and Japan

I.     Course Prefix/Number: SSC 206

       Course Name: Contemporary China and Japan

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course explores current societies in China and Japan. Content focus is on contemporary political-economic and social issues. Multidisciplinary approach uses perspectives from two or more of the following disciplines: history, economics, sociology, anthropology, psychology and/or political science.

IV.   Learning Objectives

  1. To explore the political-economic and social structure of a transitional planned economy: China.
  2. To explore the political-economic and social structure of a state with developmental orientation*: Japan.
  3. To become aware of the interaction between tradition and modernity.
  4. To study the changing roles of women within each society.
  5. To recognize the international position and impact of each nation.

* As defined in Chalmers Johnson, MITI and the Economic Miracle, 1982, p. 19: “The developmental, or plan rational state . . . has as its dominant feature . . . substantive social and economic goals – in contrast to a state in which the regulatory orientation predominates. A regulatory, or market-rational state concerns itself with the forms and procedures . . . of economic competition, but it does not concern itself with substantive matters.” (The U.S. is an example.)

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Theoretical perspectives
    1. Development Theories: Dependency, Modernization, World Systems.
    2. Definition of Developmental, Regulatory, and Planned Economies.
  2. China
    1. Brief overview of era preceding 1949 revolution – Ching dynasty, Sun Yetsen, Nationalists under Chang Kai-shek, communist rise to power.
    2. China under Mao
      1. “The Hundred Flowers”
      2. The Great Leap Forward
      3. The Cultural Revolution
      4. Aftermath of the cultural revolution
    3. China after Mao
      1. deaths of Mao and Zhou; Deng era
      2. reform movements and Tiananmen
      3. urban development
      4. rural development
      5. law; role of the military
      6. education
      7. family and gender relations
      8. minority nationalities
      9. international relations
  3. Japan
    1. Brief overview of era preceding 1945: Meiji Restoration, pre-World War II years, the occupation
    2. The rise of the Kereitsu
      1. horizontal structure
      2. vertical structure; implications for labor
    3. The triangular structure of industry-business, the bureaucracy, and politicians
    4. The role of negotiation in conflict resolution; reciprocal consent theory
    5. Family and gender relations
    6. Education
    7. International relations
  4. Current China-Japan relations

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Lecture, discussion, audiovisual, small and large group work, other individual instructor methods of choice.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

  1. Reading:  This is an intense reading course; texts and articles will be heavily used.
  2. Writing:  Students will be required to write for the class the equivalent of 12-15 typed pages of material that will be graded.  This writing may take the form of a research or term paper, summaries of journal articles, and/or a series of shorter, analytical papers.
  3. Oral presentations:  Major papers

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Typical texts include:

Hane, Mikiso (2001). Modern Japan: A Historical Survey (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Westview Press.

Beasley, William G. (1995). The Rise of Modern Japan: Political, Economic and Social Change Since 1850 (2nd ed.). New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Moise, Edwin E. (1994). Modern China, A History (2nd ed.). Reading, PA: Addison Wesley Longman.

Brugger, Bill and Reglar, Stephen (1994). Politics, Economy and Society in Contemporary China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Taylor, Robert (1996). Greater China and Japan: Prospects for an Economic Partnership in East Asia. London, UK: Routledge Publishing.

Current news articles.

Selected optional trade books (annotated reading list is available).

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

At least one major paper, two major tests and/or more numerous periodic tests, all of the essay type, and participation in group and class work.  Examples of paper topics are as follows:

  1. Explore how China’s transition to a market economy based on individualism is affecting the cultural legacy of Confucianism and Communist ideology which are communal in nature.
  2. Explore why Japan has slid into and remained in recession over the past decade and how its economic status is tied to the process of globalization.

XI.   Other Course Information

Attendance policies to be determined by individual instructors.

Make-up exams, incomplete grades, late assignments, etc., at individual instructor’s choice.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.