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Debating Modern-Day Japan

 September 11, 2017

Debating Modern-Day Japan

Students in HIS145: Modern Japan, taught by assistant professor Elya Zhang,
competed in teams against each other to debate hot button issues facing modern-day
Japan such as whether the country should restart its nuclear power plants that had
been switched off in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami,
after a massive radioactive fallout at the damaged nuclear power facility Fukushima Dai-
ichi.

What about the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo (オウム真理教) who was responsible for the
sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in March of 1995 that killed twelve people
and injured nearly 5,500? Should it be outlawed? And has the time has come to shutter
the American military base in Okinawa?

Furthermore, students debated how Japan might be able to solve its demographic
problem of low birthrates coupled with one of the highest longevity rates in the world,
creating an upside-down population pyramid. Without a substantial increase in the
birthrate or a change in the Japanese resistance to immigration, the population is
forecast to drop from the current 127 million to about 108 million by 2050, and to 80
million by 2065. Might birthright citizenship be the answer?

After the loss of WWII, the current Japanese constitution was promulgated in 1947. Its
Article 9—the famous “peace clause”—forbids Japan from maintaining an army, navy,
or air force. The current Self Defense Forces of Japan are legally not military branches,
but extensions of the national police force. Should Article 9 be amended?
Joe Easterly of the River Campus Libraries Digital Scholarship Lab helped with the
production of these videos.

Find the full course page here.