Increasing Poverty in Japan: Social Policy and Public Assistance Program

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Until quite recently, the problem of poverty was largely "invisible" in Japan, since the poverty rate was relatively low and issues surrounding poverty received little attention. However, the recent financial and economic crisis caused such an increase in the poverty rate that it could no longer be ignored. When the government announced a poverty rate for the first time in 2009 (15.7% for the year 2007), the nation was shocked. Poverty is now widely discussed and "visible" in Japan, and Japanese policy makers have been forced to formulate and implement strategies to help the poor. The contribution of changing international and national economic and social conditions to increased poverty, including population changes in Japan, is also noted. This paper aims to provide an overview of the poverty situation and the nature of social policy that addresses poverty. It describes in particular the national public assistance program, which is a major public income-support program and is considered as the 'last safety net' available for the poor in Japan. In conclusion, the paper explores the key problems faced by the program and discusses the challenges associated with tackling a dramatic increase in poverty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-91
Number of pages13
JournalAsian Social Work and Policy Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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