Social Investment Strategy in Japan: A Failed Attempt?

Monday, July 14, 2014: 10:45 AM
Room: F203
Oral Presentation
Mari MIURA , Sophia University, Japan
Eriko HAMADA , Sophia University, Japan
A rapidly aging society with low birth rates, an increasing public distrust to the sustainability of the social security system, a high level of child poverty, and a high rate of suicide among the youth all suggest that Japan should embrace social investment strategy. A large gain in social benefits seems possible with the rethinking of an inter-generational redistribution. Yet, social investment strategy has been weak both in discourse and in practice. Although the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government (2009-2012) pursued some policy innovation in the area of childcare and youth programs under the slogan of “children first,” a paradigm shift has failed to take place.

    This paper asks why the adoption of social investment strategy is so limited in Japan despite the fact that its social and economic conditions should provide a fertile soil for such a strategy. We shall explore the political conditions which prevent the full-fledged development of the ideas and practices of social investment strategy. In so doing, we show how the dominant force of neoliberalism constitutes a stumbling bloc in policy innovation.

    This paper will cover major policy changes in the realms of childcare policy (cash allowance and daycare), youth programs for job training and job seeking, and “career education” from the 2000s to the present day. Its main focus will be on the rightward shift of partisan dynamics, legacy of statism, and the persistence of traditional gender roles.