Table of Contents

Handbook on East Asian Social Policy

Handbook on East Asian Social Policy

Elgar original reference

Edited by Misa Izuhara

Dramatic socio-economic transformations over the last two decades have brought social policy and social welfare issues to prominence in many East Asian societies. Since the 1990s and in response to national as well as global pressure, there have been substantial developments and reforms in social policy in the region but the development paths have been uneven. Until recently, comparative analysis of East Asian social policy tends to have focused on the established welfare state of Japan and the emerging welfare regimes of four ‘Tiger Economies’. Much of the recent debate indeed preceded China’s re-emergence onto the world economy. In this context, this Handbook brings China more fully into the contemporary social policy debates in East Asia. Organised around five themes from welfare state developments, to theories and methodologies, to current social policy issues, the Handbook presents original research from leading specialists in the fields, and provides a fresh and updated perspective to the study of social policy.

Chapter 20: Poverty, the working poor and social policy in East Asia: exploring the second safety net proposal in Japan

Masami Iwata

Subjects: asian studies, asian development, asian politics and policy, asian social policy, development studies, asian development, politics and public policy, asian politics, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


At the outset of the current economic downturn, a significant proportion of the working-age population consisted of individuals whose household income was below the poverty threshold. And many of them were living in a household where at least one person had a job, the so-called ‘working poor’. Traditionally, when assessing labour market performance, the main focus has been on unemployment or employment rates. But the public debate has recently put an increasing emphasis on in-work poverty. For governments, the problems faced by the working poor and jobless people are two pieces of the same puzzle: how to secure for them a route towards economic self-sufficiency? From this perspective, the policy goal should be the same in both cases: creating more and better jobs. However, this is a particularly demanding objective since past experience suggests that more jobs do not necessarily mean better jobs. At the same time, governments also need to put in place a solid safety net for those individuals with weak employment prospects, who may not succeed in finding a job that offers career prospects. With the ongoing severe economic downturn, these issues are becoming even more central. (OECD, 2009: 168)

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information