Leonard Schoppa headshot

Leonard J. Schoppa

Unit: College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Department of Politics
Office location and address
S461 Gibson Hall
1605 Jefferson Park Ave
Charlottesville, Virginia 22904
D. Phil in Politics, Oxford University

My research examines the politics and foreign relations of Japan, in comparative and regional context.  My latest research project examines how “exit options,” including the level of mobility afforded by housing markets, affects civic engagement at the local level in Japan and the United States. What explains why Japanese join the PTA at twice the rate of Americans and “volunteer” to maintain the safety of their communities (from traffic, crime, fire) at much higher levels? This project has resulted in the publication of an article in Comparative Political Studies (Sept 2013) under the title “Residential Mobility and Local Civic Engagement in Japan and the United States: Divergent Paths to School,” as well as the documentary film “Slow Way Home,” which was broadcast on many PBS stations in May and June of 2016. The trailer for the film can be found here: http://spinfilm.wix.com/slowwayhome.

My most recent book-length project was a volume I edited, titled The Evolution of Japanese Party Politics (Toronto, 2011). It explains how and why Japan has seen one of the two major parties in its party system shrink to fringe-party size and be replaced by a brand new party, the Democratic Party of Japan.  Such major changes in the typically “frozen” party systems of advanced industrialized democracies are rare, so Japan’s experience sheds light on the forces that can disrupt such established systems.

Three previous sole-authored books have focused on the forces shaping social and economic policy in Japan.  These include Race for the Exits: The Unraveling of Japan’s System of Social Protection, (Cornell University Press, 2006), analyzing why Japan has been slow to modify policies and structures that have caused manufacturers to “exit” Japan via foreign direct investment and women to “exit” via decisions not to have children or not to continue in careers; Bargaining With Japan: What American Pressure Can and Cannot Do (Columbia, 1997), which examines the role played by foreign pressure in Japanese economic policymaking; and Education Reform in Japan (Routledge, 1991). Refereed articles growing out of these projects have been published in International Organization, Comparative Political Studies, the Journal of European Social Policy and the Journal of Japanese Studies (1991).

I earned my DPhil in Politics from Oxford in 1989 and have been employed at the University of Virginia since 1990.

AS-POLI The Slow Way Home - Renewal
Source: United States-Japan Foundation
November 01, 2014 – December 31, 2015
AS-CEAS Understanding the Non-West
Source: U.S. Nfah - Nat'L Endowment For The Humanities
June 01, 2013 – May 31, 2015
AS-POLI Documentary: The Slow Way Home
Source: United States-Japan Foundation
June 01, 2013 – December 31, 2014
Understanding Japan in its International Context
Source: The Japan Foundation
February 01, 2009 – January 31, 2013
PLIR 2030: International Relations of East Asia
Credits: 3
An introduction to leading theories in the field of international relations with reference to major events in the history of diplomacy, war, and economic relations in the East Asian region.
FORU 2500: Forum Capstone Experience
Credits: 3
This course is the capstone course for forum students. It is to be taken in the fourth semester by forum students only. Students should enroll in the section associated with the forum to which they were accepted. (See http://college.as.virginia.edu/forums for information on the forums).
GSGS 2559: New Course in Global Studies
Credits: 1–6
This course provides the opportunity to offer new topics in Global Studies.
PLCP 3500: Special Topics in Comparative Politics
Credits: 3
Analysis of selected issues and concepts in comparative politics.
PLCP 4150: Comparative Public Policy
Credits: 3
Explores why policies on issues like health care, social welfare, education, and immigration differ markedly from nation to nation, focusing on how contrasting cultures, state institutions, and societal organizations shape the historical trajectory of public policies. The primary focus of the course is on policies in advanced industrialized nations such as Britain, the U.S., Japan, and Sweden. Prerequisites: Prior course work in American and/or comparative politics is required.
PLCP 4500: Special Topics in Comparative Politics
Credits: 3
Intensive analysis of selected issues and concepts in comparative government. Prerequisite: One course in PLCP or instructor permission.
PLCP 5993: Selected Problems in Comparative Politics
Credits: 1–3
Independent study, under faculty supervision, for intensive research on a specific topic. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.