chapter  4
19 Pages

The Struggle Against Familialism: Reconfi guring the Care Diamond in Japan


Although Japan is a highly developed society, paradoxically, in terms of the provision of care it is still grappling with a structure common to the developing world: familialism1. As in many other societies, the care needs of the elderly, sick, or disabled, as well as children, were traditionally met within the family. After the Second World War, the state started to provide some care services, following similar developments in Europe. But Japan was a late-comer in economic and social development and the energy crisis of the 1970s struck the country while it was still in the process of building a welfare state. The government then changed the policy direction in a way that reinforced familialism and the gender division of labour. The fundamental structure of care provision, therefore, remained unchanged at least until the end of the twentieth century.