Continuities and Changes in Family Policy and Familialism in Japan

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 09:15
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Koichi HIRAOKA, Ochanomizu University, Japan
In Japan, the concept of family policy is not used in laws and government documents, nor is it frequently discussed in academic studies on public policy. However, in the late 1990s, the government began attempts to coordinate and integrate policies and programs for families raising children under the banner of “Measures to Cope with Society with Declining Birthrate.” The establishment in 2003 of the Basic Act for Measures to Cope with Society with Declining Birthrate accelerated development of this. As our earlier studies have demonstrated, a loosely structured system of policies and programs supporting families raising children, which may well be regarded as “family policy,” emerged in the mid-2000s.

 This study aims to elucidate the specific characteristics of the family policy that came into existence at that time, to analyze its continuities and changes over the past decade, and to examine how these factors relate to the persistence or decline of familialism in the Japanese welfare regime.

  This study first traces the development of policy responses to declining fertility rates since the early 1990s, and attempts to explain how family policy with specifically Japanese characteristics was formed in the mid-2000s.

  Second, it analyzes the course taken by family policy development over the past decade, paying particular attention to the effects of the administration changes in 2009 and in 2012. Tension and contradictions inherent in the family policy of the Abe administration are analyzed, as well as those between pronatalism and the goal to increase female labor force participation; between quantity and quality of childcare services; and between pursuit of work-family life balance and neoliberal labor policy.

  Finally, this study examines how the development of family policy has affected, and been affected by, familialism in the Japanese welfare regime.