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Volume 32, 2015

Making and Un-Making Modern Japan

Reiko Gotoh
Pages 106-122

What Japan Has Left Behind in the Course of Establishing a Welfare State

The purpose of this paper is to examine the direction which the Japanese welfare state has pursued and what it has left behind, by contrasting the points of view of two representative approaches in economics: the traditional income approach and the capability approach which has been newly proposed by Amartya Sen. In extracting the structure of the tax-social security system, the paper refers to the framework of John Rawls, precepts of “common sense of justice” and their higher principles in his theory of justice. The main conclusion is that Japanese welfare state has followed universal liberalism based on continuity, the essential characteristic of the income approach, and has left behind the equality of the differences. This paper indicates that the capability approach which makes it possible to analyze the discontinuity within an individual’s life by focusing on her doings and beings is also suitable for understanding the differences among individuals.

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