The Small Welfare State
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The Small Welfare State

Rethinking Welfare in the US, Japan, and South Korea

Edited by Jae-jin Yang

In a period of rapid change for welfare states around the world, this insightful book offers a comparative study of three historically small welfare states: the US, Japan, and South Korea. Featuring contributions from international distinguished scholars, this book looks beyond the larger European welfare states to unpack the many common political and institutional characteristics that have constrained welfare state development in industrialized democracies.
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Chapter 9: Weak social security but strong employment security in the Japanese welfare state

Sung-won Kim


Japan has frequently been a subject of comparative study in welfare state research because its social expenditure is on a lower level than developed economies in the West. Viewed in terms of its weak social security, Japan can be regarded as a “small welfare state.” However, it is important to remember that Japan has been able to maintain weak social security because its male workers have traditionally enjoyed strong employment guarantees. From this perspective, it is too simplistic to view Japan as a small welfare state. Defining the overarching characteristic of the Japanese small welfare state as “strong employment security,” this chapter explores economic, regulatory, and employment policies and examines how those characteristics have been changed in the twenty-first century.

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