Japan and East Asia in Global Governance

Image of tall buildings in Japan

Autumn 2024

Course study period: Autumn 2024. Course starts October 1, 2024.

Level: Advanced

Amount of credits: 3 + 2 cr

Organizer: Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku

Instructor: Dr. Kamila Szczepanska, University of Turku

Course contents:

The aim of the course is to familiarise students with the role that Japan has played in global governance institutions and process aimed at tackling global challenges since 1945. The course primarily addresses Japan’s long road from (re-)entering international organisations in the early post-war period, through exerting cautious and limited influence in those organisations and processes until the early 1990s, to the demonstration of increasingly assertive and pro-active attitude since the mid-1990s onwards. Moreover, the course explores the presence and activities of China and South Korea in the abovementioned institutions and process with the special emphasis on cooperation and contestation with Japan. This aspect of the course is especially important taking into account the growing role played by China in international affairs and how Japan has responded to this momentous shift in global balance of power.

The course investigates Japan’s role in the United Nations, IMF and WB (Bretton Woods institutions) as well as G7/G20 summitry, among the others. Furthermore, specific themes such as financial/trade governance and climate governance are introduced and explored. Finally, the course present theories of global governance, inclusive of how the major IR schools address multilateralism in global affairs, the issue of governing global commons and multiplicity of stakeholders involved in those processes.


Through this course participants will gain capacity to:

  • explain Japan’s contribution to global governance processes and institutions
  • identify particular political, social and economic factors that shaped Japan’s engagement with the selected global governance institutions and processes between 1945 and now
  • compare Japan’s activities in the selected global governance fields and institutions with those of the raising powers, such as China, and the established middle power, such as South Korea, in terms of normative starting points and practical implementation
  • critically discuss approaches of different theoretical traditions (e.g. realism, liberalism, social constructivism, institutionalism) to the notion of global governance and related themes of normative principles, authority and legitimacy in international affairs
  • identify, select and examine sources for the purpose of evaluating their academic merit and relevance
  • improve their ability to effectively communicate the results of their research and analyses in written form.
  • Finally, knowledge gained by students during the course contributes towards pursuing Sustainable Development Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions).

For whom? 
The course is of interest to students interested in area and regional studies, IR, political science and contemporary history. Before coming to the course, students should have basic knowledge about Japanese and/or Chinese and/or Korean politics (for example the completion of course Contemporary East Asia/Johdatus Itä-Aasiaan) and/or IR/Political Science and/or contemporary history background.

Structure of the course:

Course is comprised of two parts. You make take either the 3 credit onlinelecture course or the full 5 credit combination. 

3 ECTS: Online lectures, course readings and online materials; Learning diaries; Group discussions
2 ECTS: Students who take the 3 ECTS course can also write an optional 2 ECTS essay.

Taken as: recorded online lectures, readings, regular input from the teacher in terms of provision of feedback on student’s assignments throughout the duration of the course. In the Essay course, students write an essay.

Application process:

Students who hold a valid study right at University Network’s member university can take this course for free. This includes both degree students and exchange students.

Other students can apply to the course as external self-paying students of the University of Turku OR via the Open University at the University of Turku.

This course has a maximum intake of 30 students. Students are selected in the order of application. The places are divided evenly between the member universities of the Network.

Go to application instructions by clicking here.

Students from University of Turku can apply direct via UTUPeppi!

Once your application has been processed, you will receive a  message about the decision. This will come a few weeks after the application period has ended. If you are accepted to the course, you will receive a welcoming email on the first day of the course, and gain access to the course site in the Moodle. The welcome email comes to the address you have given in the application form. It may go to the spam or offers-folder of your email (at least Gmail tends to do it), so check those folders too.

Image by Kohji Asakawa from Pixabay