Skip to main content

Empires in Modern East Asia


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Tutor: to be confirmed
  • Assessment: one essay of 5000-5500 words (100%)

Module description

In this course we explore some of the main themes in Japanese imperialism and colonisation from the late nineteenth century to the fall of the Japanese empire in 1945. We start with the theme of the clash of civilisations as the Confucian world order, premised on the supremacy of the Middle Kingdom, eroded gradually by the incursion of western imperial powers into East Asia in the nineteenth century. However, the most serious challenge to western imperialism and the Chinese empire in East Asia came from the emergence of the Japanese colonial empire which was influenced both by Chinese and western ideas. We will aim to develop a critical understanding of Japanese imperialism and colonisation on two levels: first, to explore the nature of Japanese imperialism in East Asia as part of, and within the context of the general global trend; and on another level, to explore the diversity within the Japanese colonial empire.

Indicative Module Content

  • Pan-Asianism
  • Japanese colonial policies (in Taiwan, Korea, the South Seas, and Manchuria)
  • Race
  • The concept of the 'informal' empire
  • Nationalist resistance against Japanese colonial rule
  • The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
  • The national liberation movements in Japan's wartime empire in Southeast Asia during the Pacific War