Poverty in a Rich Country - A Case Study on the Perception of Poverty in Japan
Abstract: Since the economic recession in Japan in the 1990s, there has been a rapid increase in inequality. Along with the recession which was accompanied by the increase of aging population, the introduction of a new employment policy backed by neoliberal economy has been contributing to the growth of inequality. Despite such precarious background, the Japanese concept of ‘self-responsibility’ puts the responsibility of poverty on individuals. This individualization of poverty causes repercussions on the society, especially because of stigma and shame it remains hidden which makes the problem hard to alleviate. In this thesis, I analyze how people perceive poverty in Japan drawing on the concept of undeserving poor. Based on my findings from Japanese people’s comments and feedback on various online forums, it shows that the majority of people perceive that poverty cannot be solely blamed on individuals, but at the same time, it also shows that there are people who believe that poverty is solely due to the lack of self-responsibility. This research highlights that the individualization of poverty exists in Japan and the notion of undeserving poor. Ultimately, how poverty is understood and improved is influenced by people’s everyday discourse in the societies, hence, these findings suggest that there is room for improvements to be made for policy makers to enforce the disconnection of poverty from the concept of ‘self-responsibility’.
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