Economic Development of Japan

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Economics

Module overview

Please note that this course is capped at a limit of 25 students

This course will introduce students to the main themes in the economy of Japan. The course provides a historical overview of economic development of Japan, from origins of institutions and industries to contemporary challenges of long stagnation. The long-run trends in the Japanese economic performance are examined, linking them to the structural transformation of the economy. Emphasis will be placed on the importance of institutional development and the state, as well as the particular form of private sector development closely linked with them. These features of Japanese political economy are important not only in explaining its rapid industrialisation and high speed growth, but also in understanding the rise and collapse of the bubble economy, and the subsequent long stagnation since the early 1990s. The course also engages with contemporary policy debates. Along with the focus on the long run trends, the course also covers key topics in the Japanese economy, including banking and finance, industrial organisations, labour, international trade, population and agriculture.


153400123 - Macroeconomic Analysis


153400130 - Microeconomic Analysis

(Note: For BSc Economics and BSc Development Economics students both these courses are core courses in year 2 of their degrees, but BA two-subject degree students can only take EITHER of these two courses in their year 2)

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Show a clear awareness of the historical underpinning of the Japanese economic development.
  • Understand and evaluate the main debates over sources of economic growth in Japan.
  • Apply their knowledge in analysing the causes and consequences of economic growth, and the reasons for Japan’s economic slowdown since the early 1990s.
  • Describe and analyse the main sectors and institutions in the contemporary economy.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: Exam 80% / Coursework 20% (1 essay of 2,500 words). Resubmission of coursework regulations apply to this course.

Suggested reading

Core readings:

  • David Flath The Japanese Economy, Third edition (2014).
  • Christopher Howe The Origins of Japanese Trade Supremacy (1996).
  • Penelope Francks, Japanese economic development. Theory and practice, (1992, 1999).
  • Kasushi Ohkawa and Henry Rosovsky, Japanese Economic Growth. Trend and acceleration in the twentieth century, (1973).
  • Ryoshin Minami, The Economic Development of Japan, (1986).
  • Ryutaro Komiya, The Japanese economy. Trade, Industry and Government (1991).
  • Takafusa Nakamura and Konosuke Odaka, eds. The economic history of Japan 1914-1955 (2003).
  • Richard Katz, Japan: The System that Soured (1998).
  • Cargill and Sakamoto, Japan Since 1980 (2008).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules