57 巻 (2006) 2 号 p. 202-225,267
Nowadays, the Koizumi government has put his structural reform into practice to some extent. His policy based on neo-liberal ideology is changing policy system which realized parity among the regions and classes in the post war Japan. As the result of 2005 general election showed, the people give support to his reform. This paper aims at grasping the notion of equality that the LDP and the bureaucracy have been pursuing for fifty years. Then, it tries to answer a puzzle, why ordinary people support the neo-liberal policy which causes pain and disadvantage to themselves.
Japanese-style equality was brought about by combination of discretionary policy and socialization of risk. Although the socio-economic system in post war Japan is often called “successful social democracy”, it is far from the true one in west European countries. Universalistic approach was quite weak in social policy, and discretionary policy such as subsidy and public investment projects functioned as redistributive policy for backward sectors. Discretionary approach also caused chronic corruption and unfair vested interests in the bureaucracy.
Koizumi was good at attacking this corrupted complex, and aroused expectation among the people. They supported Koizumi's reform because they expected him to slash the corruption and vested interests. However, they do not appreciate real outcome of the structural reform. Our opinion poll in early 2006 shows that they still approve the notion of welfare state and have deep concern about inequality in recent Japanese society.
Koizumi's reform removed various shelters in Japanese society, and people become exposed to many kinds of risk. In this context, it is likely that debate on role of the government becomes serious in party politics.