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Post-postwar Japan: Its Fall and Rise (NCTA in-person Summer Program)

Installation view of the mural Myth of Tomorrow (明日の神話), 1969, acrylic on concrete slabs, by Taro Okamoto in Shibuya City, Tokyo, Japan (2023). Photo by Danny With Love.

Course Description

Remember when Japan was poised to rule the world at the end of the 1980s (probably not)? Since 1989 the dominant narrative of Japan has been one of decline and increasing irrelevance. There are elements of truth in this story. Japan is a much different place today than it was thirty-five years ago. And yet, Japan has also proved a model for East Asia and other developed nations, economically, politically, demographically, and in terms of grappling with security and environmental challenges.

Course Objectives

To provide teachers with a concise, coherent and accessible discussion of the key aspects and the most surprising developments of post-postwar Japan which permits them to comprehend just how relevant this nation, its people and culture, continue to be. Beyond content, participants had access to curriculum materials, and we discussed pedagogical strategies for working this knowledge into their courses.

This program was led by Paul Dunscomb, Professor of East Asian History at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and by Melanie King, Art historian and educator.


This was a three-day program. Attendance of all three sessions were mandatory in order to complete the program:

Thursday, June 13, 2024 – 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM, University of Alaska Anchorage.
Friday, June 14, 2024 – 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM, University of Alaska Anchorage.
Saturday, June 15, 2024 – 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM, University of Alaska Anchorage.

The program was free. Participants were expected to book their travel and lodging. Partial travel reimbursement was available (please contact at for additional information).

Preparation and homework

In advance of attending the program, participants needed to complete readings and write a reflection paper. Upon completion of the program, a short reflection paper was due.

Program benefits for completing the seminar

  • Free books, materials and resources.
  • A 200$ stipend for additional classroom resources.
  • UAA Professional Development credit and scholarship*

*UAA Professional Development: Students admitted to the workshop received credit through UAA. The course was entitled HIST A590 The Curious Relevance of Japan and was offered on an A-F graded basis. Students who completed HIST A590 received 1 credit. The East Asia Resource Center (EARC) sponsored the workshop and offered a scholarship to offset the 1 credit tuition cost, payable upon successful completion of the course.

Program Resources

Click here for the Padlet site (compiled by program leader Melanie King) with the links and the resources for the program.

This program was sponsored by the East Asia Resource Center at the University of Washington and funded by a Freeman Foundation grant in support of the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA)