Japan Focus Faculty and Practitioners

Japan Focus

UC San Diego brings together a group of leading faculty and practitioners with years of research, teaching and industry experience in business, management, political science, economics, sociology and many other fields. They are easily approachable and serve as advisers in their fields.

Japan Specialization

GPS has approximately 40 students in the Japan specialization each year, of whom half are international students (such as from Japan, China, etc.). The most popular career tracks are International Management and International Politics, but energy, environment, economics and public policy are also well represented. 

The GPS Japan specialization offers an exciting course menu to students, some of which are highlighted below. Visit the UC San Diego course catalog for a complete listing:

  • Business and Management in Japan: This course introduces the main aspects of Japanese business and industrial organization (keiretsu), Japanese management practices, and the representation and influence of business interests in the Japanese political economy.
  • Postwar Politics in Japan: Overview of postwar politics in Japan, including American Occupation reforms, political institutions, major political factors, mass and elite, and political behavior. Special attention will be paid to the issue of Japan’s changing democracy.
  • The Politics of U.S.-Japan Economic Relations: This course will analyze how the domestic politics of each country, their international negotiations, and their interaction concerning economic issues have affected the U.S.-Japan relationship. Both the politics of cooperation and integration, and trade friction and conflict will be addressed in part through study of specific cases.
  • Japanese Foreign Policy: Examines the domestic and strategic sources of Japan’s foreign policy in the postwar era. This course emphasizes Japan’s foreign economic policy in regional and global multilateral organizations, and the major security issues it confronts with its Asian neighbors.
  • Japan Lab: In this class, students write a research paper of their choice under the umbrella of an annual theme (such as “Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Japan” in 2016). Learning goals include an introduction to basic research methodologies and approaches to paper writing, and their application to Japan. Students will write an academic or think-tank like paper on Japan, and in the process learn about research approach, scoping, how to frame the question and motivate the issue, how to structure the paper; and also how to access Japan data, library information, newspapers, surveys, academic papers and other resources.

Language Program

GPS has an intermediate and advanced-level Japanese language program that is connected to class content in the track courses. While beginners can enroll in entry-level courses through the Japanese Language Studies program, the classes taught at GPS are designed to prepare students for professional-level proficiency in politics, business and economic matters.

At GPS, the language program aims to push students to a level where they can discuss in Japanese many of the concepts they are studying in the curriculum. For example, while studying Postwar Politics in Japan, students may practice discussing Japan’s party system or electoral matters in formal Japanese, applying the new vocabulary to current topics.

Students also are trained in professional skills, such as writing business emails and corporate memos, or giving presentations and conducting business meetings—all in Japanese. Even job interviews in Japanese are a part of the curriculum.

The Japanese language program is led by Professor Yasu-Hiko Tohsaku, a specialist in second-language acquisition theory and language pedagogy.