Neoliberal reforms of Anti-Poverty Policy in Japan: implications of ‘independence support’
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There have been many neo-liberal reforms of modern welfare states since the 1980s. Although deregulation and decentralization have led to the privatization of various public welfare services, since the logic of welfare is generally incompatible with markets, it is difficult to fully supply welfare services through a market economy alone. Because of this, “quasi-markets” have gradually formed as places for the provision of welfare services, through the “citizen welfare” of NGOs, NPOs and other organizations. In recent years, “citizen welfare” is even tied to new policy trends such as the emphasis on regional roles and the “participation” of citizens.
These trends can also be seen in anti-poverty policy in Japan, where an oft-used phrase is “independence-support,” and “citizen welfare” is increasingly expected to be a key player in this area. In this presentation, I will focus on the implications of these trends, and argue that, while the use of “citizen welfare” goes hand in hand with the progressive shrinking of public (state) responsibility and a reduction in “redistribution” to the poor (economic benefits), state power over the poor is dramatically increasing and, at first sight, “recognition” of the poor is expanding. Further, I will discuss how the nature of citizenship of the poor and the governing style of the poor are changing through these policy reforms in Japan.