The position paper, optional short research paper, and policy recommendation study should be between 2000 and 2500 words in length.
The format of the writing assessment may be one of the following:
1) Position paper. For this option, the student takes a stand in advocating a point of view on an issue in contemporary Japanese history (i.e. since 1945) or current affairs and prepares a lawyerly brief making the case for his or her position. A typical title might be something like “Japan INC Is a Myth,” or “Why the Japanese Pacifistic Constitution Should Be Revised.” The stand taken in the position paper might also be expressed negatively; for example, “Japan INC Is Not a Myth,” or “Why the Japanese Pacifistic Constitution Should Not Be Revised.” The perspective presented should emphasize developments since 1945, but providing a pre-1945 historical context may be necessary.
2) Policy recommendation study. The student should draft a report considering one of the major social, economic, or political problems (domestic or international) confronting Japanese policy makers today and provide specific policy recommendations to resolve, partially or fully, the issue. While the study may take up one of the weekly topics presented in this unit., the final paper will be expected go significantly beyond what has been presented in readings, lectures, and tutorials. The study is expected to be based on research of what is genuinely doable and a careful consideration of the origins of the problem. A simple rehash of assigned readings will not be sufficient. You should be creative in making recommendations, but the creativity must be grounded in a realistic understanding of the problem and grasp of what is genuinely feasible in resolving it.
3) Research paper. The subject of this writing assessment depends on the student’s interest. Is there a question you want to answer about contemporary Japan, some aspect of the “enigma,” about which you want to learn more? The research paper option provides an opportunity to pursue individual interests by reading more about a particular subject and exploring sources that may lead to answers. Students should think about it as mystery solving. The better the research question (or hypothesis) the better the final paper will be.