SOAS University of London

Japan & Korea Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Culture

Japanese Television since 1953

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2018/2019
Taught in:
Full Year

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the module, the students will have acquired detailed knowledge of Japanese television from the very beginning of its history. In addition, through the critical dealing with the most important visual medium in Japan, they will have been sensitised to political influences on the media, which will enable them to reflect critically about the media and their content (media literacy).

Students will prepare and deliver short presentations before their peers and participate actively in class. The topics of these presentations will be within the framework of the course, but students are required to add sources of their own, which will familiarise them with bibliographic methods. The critical reading of books, academic journals, newspapers as well as sources on the world wide web will also be a key qualification.


Total of 20 weeks teaching with 2 hours classroom contact per week consisting of a 1 hour lecture and a 1 hour seminar.

Scope and syllabus

Based upon a thorough introduction to media theory and theories of media analysis (both quantitative and qualitative methods), the module will give an overview of the development of Japanese television throughout its history in looking at both public and private broadcasting as well as ‘landmarks’ of the Japanese broadcasting history and their effects on the consumption of television as medium. 

It will also provide background information on the Japanese broadcasting system, both in legal terms as well as in economic terms which are essential to the understanding of the contents. Various genres such as news programmes and documentaries, but also TV series, commercials and game shows will be covered and looked at critically, in regard to the representations of Japanese society found therein.

In addition, throughout the history of Japanese television, Japanese domestic productions tended to dominate the Japanese market. However, in recent years, many dramas from other Asian countries, i.e. South Korea, Taiwan and China have also been aired and were successful beyond expectation. Therefore, the module will also look into the (social) consequences of these new trends and try to elaborate whether this could lead to an ‘internationalisation’ of Japanese television.

The module will be taught in a lecture form, but there will be classroom discussions on theoretical issues as well as presentations to further enhance the students’ understanding of theory and its application on the case of Japanese television.

In the first term, the students will be taught about theoretical issues concerning television and its role in society as well as in the Japanese context. In the second term, the focus will be on exploring different genres and their significance for the genre as such, as well as for society. Lastly, the challenges television is faced with by the so-called New Media will also be tackled. The students will thus gain a deep knowledge on Japanese television and society, which will encourage them to look more critically at media and its contents.

Although Japanese language materials will be used, translations will be made available to students not familiar with the Japanese language. For that, transcripts of the relevant scenes will be made and translated by myself. These transcripts will be handed out to the students.

The module could complement the modules available for the MA Japanese Studies because it incorporates a perspective on Japanese society via one of the most important areas in the Japanese media. As television does occupy an important role in Japanese families, this aspect of Japanese society will now also be available for study.

Since the department of Film and Media Studies does not offer modules on Japanese television, this module could also complement the offerings in that department. Together with the modules in the MA module Global Cinema and the Transcultural, the students would acquire a deep knowledge of visual media.

Method of assessment

A reaction paper of 800 words to be submitted on day 1, week 5, term 1 (15%); a critical commentary of 1500 word to be submitted on day 1, week 1, term 2 (25%); an essay of 3500 words to be submitted on day 1, week 1, term 3 (60%).

Suggested reading

  • Fiske, John (1987): Television Culture. London: Methuen.
  • Fiske, John and John Hartley (2003): Reading Television. London: Routledge, 2nd edition.
  • Fiske, John (1991): Understanding Popular Culture. London: Routledge
  • Hartley, John (1992): Tele-ology. Studies in Television. London, New York: Routledge.
  • Pharr, Susan J. and Ellis S. Krauss (eds.) (1996): Media and Politics in Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
  • Krauss Ellis S. (2000): Broadcasting politics in Japan. NHK and Television news. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  • Skov, Lise and Brian Moeran (eds.) (1995): Women, Media and Consumption in Japan. Richmond: Curzon Press.
  • Treat, John Whittier (ed.) (1995): Contemporary Japan and Popular culture. Richmond: Curzon Press.
  • Sata Masunori and Hirahara Hideo (eds.) (1991): A History of Japanese Television Drama. Modern Japan and the Japanese. Tōkyō: The Japan Association of Broadcasting Art.
  • Valaskivi, Katja (1995) Wataru seken wa oni bakari. Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law in a Japanese Television Family Drama. Jyväskylä: Nykylttuurin Tutkimusyksikkö.
  • Holden, Todd Joseph Miles and Timothy J. Scrase (eds.) (2006): Medi@sia. Global Media/tion in and out of Context. London: Routledge.
  • Gatzen, Barbara (2002): “NHK’s Visions of Asia.” In: Electronic Journal of Japanese Studies.
    Prieler, Michael (2006): “Japanese Advertising's Foreign Obsession.” In P. Lutum (ed.): Japanizing. The Structure of Culture and Thinking in Japan. Berlin: Lit-Verlag, pp. 239-271.
  • Stibbe, Arran (2003): “ Disability, Gender and power in Japanese television drama.” In: Japan Forum 16:2, pp. 21-36
  • Clements, Jonathan and Motoko Tamamuro (2003): The Dorama Encyclopedia. A Guide to Japanese TV Drama since 1953. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press.
  • Moeran, Brian (1996): A Japanese Advertising Agency. An Anthropology of Media and Markets. Richmond, Surrey : Curzon Press,.
  • Cooper –Chen, Anne (with the collaboration of Miiko Kodama) (1997): Mass Communication in Japan. Ames, Iowa : Iowa State University Press.
  • Martinez D.P. (ed.) (1998): The Worlds of Japanese Popular Culture. Gender, Shifting Boundaries and Global Cultures. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1998
  • Craig Timothy J. (ed.) (2000): Japan Pop! Inside the World of Japanese Popular Culture. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe.
  • Iwabuchi Koichi (2002): Recentering Globalization. Popular Culture and Japanese Tansnationalism. Durham : Duke University Press.
  • Feldman, Ofer (1993): Politics and the News Media in Japan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Freeman, Laurie Anne (2000): Closing the Shop. Information Cartels and Japan's Mass Media. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press.
  • Kilborn, Richard and John Izod (1997): An introduction to Television Documentary. Confronting Reality. Manchester and New York: Manchester UP.


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