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Japanese policies towards poverty and public assistance : a historical perspective (Inglês)

In Japan today, means-tested public assistance remains a modest component of the welfare system-in marked contrast to the expanding universal programs of national pensions, national health insurance, and medical care for the elderly. This paper explores the various historical, political, and ideological factors that underlie Japan's minimal provision of public assistance. For more than a century, the Japanese state has sought to discourage dependence on official poor relief. Bureaucrats, conservative politicians, and others have worked hard to cultivate and strengthen a "sense of shame" in the Japanese people regarding reliance on public assistance. Officials also have designed stringent procedures that inhibit the poor from requesting aid. At the same time, the authorities have eschewed a laissez-faire approach, preferring to intervene to compel families and communities to support their poor members in lieu of large-scale official assistance.

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