Based on extensive survey data, this book examines how the population of Japan has experienced and processed three decades of rapid social change from the highly egalitarian high growth economy of the 1980s to the economically stagnating and demographically shrinking gap society of the 2010s. It discusses social attitudes and values towards, for example, work, gender roles, family, welfare and politics, highlighting certain subgroups which have been particularly affected by societal changes. It explores social consciousness and concludes that although many Japanese people identify as middle class, their reasons for doing so have changed over time, with the result that the optimistic view prevailing in the 1980s, confident of upward mobility, has been replaced by people having a much more realistic view of their social status.

part |15 pages


chapter 1|13 pages

Understanding Heisei Japan

Anchoring amidst transformation

part I|35 pages

Deciphering the “middle”

chapter 3|16 pages

Change or no change?

The complex relationship between status groups and status identification in Japan 1

part II|121 pages

Adapting to change

chapter 4|18 pages

Adapting to new realities?

Educational disparity in mechanisms of status identification among young Japanese 1

chapter 5|18 pages

Civil society

Who participates? 1

chapter 7|15 pages

Employment status as social status

Changes in the life satisfaction of regular and non-regular employees 1

chapter 8|20 pages

Conservative youth?

Why do young people become authoritarian and support the LDP? 1

chapter 10|5 pages

Japan after the Heisei Period

Where are we heading?