The Economics of Social Security in Japan

The Economics of Social Security in Japan

ESRI Studies Series on Ageing

Edited by Toshiaki Tachibanaki

This book provides a comprehensive appraisal of social security in Japan, where traditionally the burden of welfare provision has been the main responsibility of the family and employers, rather than the state. However, an ageing population, changes in family structure and continued recession has led to an urgent reappraisal of this situation.

Chapter 1: Introduction Toshiaki Tachibanaki

Toshiaki Tachibanaki

Subjects: asian studies, asian social policy, economics and finance, welfare economics, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy


1. MOTIVATIONS OF THE BOOK AND SEVERAL FEATURES OF SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEMS IN JAPAN Historically, Japan has not been a welfare state, which is a country where the public sector (central government and/or local governments) provides citizens with considerable welfare provision. This can be clearly seen in Table 1.1, which gives an international comparison of the share of social security benefits over national incomes, and the rate of tax revenues and social security contributions. The table shows that Japan is in the lowest group together with the United States, where it is regarded as a typical nonwelfare state country. Note that Japan is even somewhat lower than the United States. Why has Japan been seen as a typical example of the non-welfare state? Table 1.1 Rate of social security benefits over national incomes (A), and rate of tax revenues and social security contributions over GDP (B) (%) A Total rates Japan USA UK Germany France Sweden 1993 1997 1992 1993 1993 1993 1993 15.2 17.8 18.7 27.2 33.3 37.2 53.4 2002 1997 1999 1999 1999 1999 38.3 37.0 50.0 56.7 66.1 75.4 B Taxes 22.9 26.2 40.0 25.7 40.6 55.8 Social security contributions 15.5 9.8 10.0 31.0 25.5 19.7 Sources: (A) National Institute of Social Security and Population, Social Security Benefits, Tokyo 2000. (B) Ministry of Welfare and Labor, White Paper, Tokyo 2002. 1 2 The economics of social security in Japan There are four possible reasons. The first is that families have traditionally been responsible for...