Handbook on East Asian Social Policy
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Handbook on East Asian Social Policy

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.
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Chapter 2: Between Western Europe and East Asia: development of social policy in Japan

Shogo Takegawa


Many full-fledged studies in social science on welfare states were conducted in Western European countries (Wilensky, 1975; Flora and Heidenheimer, 1981; Flora et al., 1986). Consequently, many of these early studies did not include East Asian countries other than Japan for discussion. Even when Japan was discussed, it was in many cases treated only as an exceptional welfare state. At one time, social policies in the newly industrializing economies (NIEs) drew attention as examples of social policies in developing countries that were different from those in Latin American countries(Midgley, 1986; Shimodaira, 1987), although those societies were never regarded as fully fledged welfare ‘states’ with established social citizenship. However, since the 1990s, the East Asian region has been a favourite subject of social scientists in the world owing to its economic success. Initially, their interest was mainly in economic policies, but the number of researchers who studied social policy gradually increased. Some were based in Western countries, while others came from East Asia. Recognizing characteristics of the social policies of East Asian countries that were not found in those of Western European countries, many of them attempted to show that they were ‘welfare models’ or ‘welfare regimes’ that were characteristically East Asian. Such studies may or may not include Japan (Goodman and Peng, 1996; Holliday and Wilding, 2003; Miyamoto, Pengand Uzuhashi, 2003).

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