Development of Japan’s Social Security System: An Evaluation and Implications for Developing Countries

Organization(s): JICA
Regions: Asia
Country: Japan
Year: 2004
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This handbook is an edited and augmented version of the report in Towards the Establishment
of Social Safety Nets (SSN) in Developing Countries, compiled by a JICA study group that carried out in 2003 called Basic Research on Social Safety Nets.

This handbook is extracted several sections from the report referring to Japan’s experience, written by Professor Yoshinori Hiroi of Chiba University, who is a committee member of the SSN Study Group2. Since this report is expected to be utilized as a source of reference in the context of the technical transfer programs for developing countries, a Japanese version and an English version have been compiled into one volume.

Japan began to develop its social security systems – modified and modelled after those already introduced in the West – before the end of WWII when more than half of its population was employed in businesses in the primary sector. Japan in those days could be virtually classified as a developing country when assessed on the basis of its industrial structure. This situation is unique to Japan, since Western nations began to deal with this issue only after their economic power had reached a certain level. Since social security systems need to be tailored to each country’s social and economic status, it is
not appropriate to apply Japan’s social security systems to other countries without any modification.

However, Japan is a country that developed its original social security systems while the society was dramatically changing in the prewar and post-war period, and introduced the best practices of the leading nations. Such experience, with both positive and negative aspects, could provide useful lessons, taking into account the prospective economic growth of developing countries.

It is hoped that this handbook will be used by as many specialists in social security fields as possible, and also contribute to the advancement of social security systems in developing countries.

Social Protection and Human Rights