Japan

 

one of the most equal countries in relation
to income in the developed world

researched

Possible factors of equality
History
Income
Taxation system
Social welfare
Housing
Education
Healthcare

Effects of equality
Housing/Homelessness
Education
Social mobility
Healthcare
Community life and social relationships
Mental health
Drug use
Obesity
Teenage pregnancy
Life expectancy
Violence book
Environment
Waste production
Pollution
Cycling
Deforestation

Sources
BBC
Equality trust
Book: The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett
World Bank
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)
Japanese Ministry of Finances

History

1868 – End of centuries of rule by Shogun military caste, Empire of Japan proclaimed, and country enters period of rapid industrialisation and trading dominance over East Asia.

More photos from the period.

1894-95 – Japan goes to war with China, and its better-equipped forces win victory in just nine months. China cedes Taiwan and permits Japan to trade on mainland.

 

1910 – Japan annexes Korea after three years of fighting, becoming one of the world’s leading powers.

1914 – Japan joins World War I on the side of Britain and her allies, gaining some Pacific islands from Germany at the end of the war

Ultra-nationalism and war

Late 1920s – Extreme nationalism begins to take hold in Japan as world economic depression hits. The emphasis is on a preservation of traditional Japanese values, and a rejection of “Western” influence.

1939 – Outbreak of Second World War in Europe. With fall of France in 1940, Japan moves to occupy French Indo-China.

1942 – Japan occupies succession of countries, including Philippines, Dutch East Indies, Burma and Malaya. In June, US aircraft carriers defeat the Japanese at the Battle of Midway.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

1945 – US planes drop two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August. Emperor Hirohito surrenders and relinquishes divine status. Japan placed under US military government. All Japanese military and naval forces disbanded.

1947 – New constitution comes into force, establishes parliamentary system with all adults eligible to vote. Japan renounces war and pledges not to maintain land, sea or air forces for that purpose. Emperor granted ceremonial status.

1952 – Japan regains independence.

1995 January – An earthquake hits central Japan, killing thousands and causing widespread damage. The city of Kobe is hardest hit.

1997 – The economy enters a severe recession.

2009 August – Opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) wins general election by a landslide, ending more than 50 years of nearly unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party.

2011 March – Huge offshore earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastate miles of shoreline. Damage to the Fukushima nuclear plant causes a radiation leak that leaves extensive areas uninhabitable and contaminates food supplies.

Income

Japan is among one of the most equal countries in the world.

Looking at income inequality and comparing the share of income received by the highest-income people, the following graph shows how the size of income differences varies from one developed country to another.

The length of the horizontal bar shows how much richer the richest 20 percent of the population is in each country compared to the poorest 20 percent. Japan is at the top of the chart where the richest 20 percent get only about 3 times as much as the poorest.

Taxation system

Taxes in Japan are paid on income, property and consumption on the national, prefectural and municipal levels. Corporation tax is payable at 23.4%. The graphs/pie chart shows that the nearly equal distribution of tax levies between income and corporation taxes.

Graphs about the government’s tax revenue.

Social welfare

Japan has got a social security system in place. The ratio of Japan’s social security benefit expenditures to national income registered 29.8 percent.

Housing

Public rental housing (also called danchi) in Japan is provided at below market rents for low-income families by local governments. They account for 4% of the total housing stock in Japan which are assigned through a lottery system.

Unique to Japan, another form of affordable housing, employee housing, is provided by the corporate sector. Nevertheless, the recession eroded the economic foundations of corporate-based welfare, resulting in a decreased supply of employee housing.

Education

Education in Japan is mostly free. In terms of higher education that usually involves cost for tuition fees, Japan is offering generous scholarship schemes to low-income families in a bid to create equal education opportunities across the country.

 

Healthcare

Japan has a universal health insurance regime to ensure that anyone can receive necessary medical treatment. Under this regime, every citizen enters a publicly regulated medical insurance system, such as employees’ health insurance, national health insurance or the latter-stage elderly’s medical insurance. Fees are waived for low-income households receiving a government subsidy.

Effects of equality

Housing/Homelessness
The country with the smallest share of homeless people is Japan (0.004% of the population in 2019), where figures only refer to people sleeping rough (which is a more refrained definition, excluding people living in emergency accommodations, accommodations for the homeless or temporary accommodations).

The backdrop to the decrease in the number of recorded homeless people includes the efforts of local governments to focus more attention on facilities to assist people’s lives and foster independence, as well as the improved job market as businesses look for people to meet the labor shortage.

Education

Japan is the top-performing OECD country in reading literacy, maths and sciences with the average student scoring 529, well above the OECD average 486.

Social mobility

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Japan ranks highly among its peers in providing its rich and poor students with equal educational opportunities: The OECD estimates that in Japan only about 9 percent of the variation in student performance is explained by students’ socioeconomic backgrounds.
Japan is also the country with the highest high-school graduation rate, at 96.7 percent.

Healthcare

Community life and social relationships

The effect equality has on trust is large in Japan where more than 40% of the population believe that other people can be trusted and where 89% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need.

Mental health

According to the graph in Japan, fewer than 1 in 10 people had been mentally ill within the previous year.

Nevertheless, Japan still has one of the highest suicide rates among high-income OECD nations. In 2018, the country reported 16.5 suicides per 100,000 inhabitants being more predominant among elderly people and young men.

Drug use

The primary reason for the scarcity of drug users in Japan are the strict laws for possession of even small amounts of drugs.

Obesity

The graph shows that levels of obesity tend to be lower in countries where income differences are smaller. In the USA, just over 30 percent of adults are obese; a level more than 12 times higher than Japan, where only 2.4 percent of adults are obese.

Teenage pregnancy

There is a strong tendency for more unequal countries to have higher teenage birth rates with the USA and UK at the top of the charts. Japan on the contrary has a rate 10 times less than that of the USA with a rate of 4.6.

Life expectancy

Japan enjoys one of the highest life expectancies among OECD countries at 84 years, four years above the OECD average of 80 years, and one of the highest in the OECD. Even with regard to healthy life expectancy, which is the “period during which one can lead a daily life without being restricted by health problems”, Japan was among the world’s highest as of 2016, with 74.8 years for women and 72.1 years for men.

Deforestation

Japan has about 25.08 million hectares of forests. About 60% of these forests (about 14.79 million hectares) are natural and the remaining 40% (about 10.29 million hectares) are artificial plantation. The portion of forested land in Japan’s national land area (37.8 million hectares) is about 66%, which is the second highest after Finland among developed countries. Japan is one of the most forested countries in the world.

Cycling

People: 127,370,000
Bicycles: 72,540,000
Cyclists: 56.9%

In Japan 15 percent of trips to work are made by bicycle. In Japan, bicycles are widely used as an alternative to motorcars. A lot of people use them to ride to the train stations.

Nowadays more and more Japanese are taking up bicycling to work for health reasons and to avoid traffic jams and crowded trains. Many people don’t lock their bicycles even when they leave their bikes outside railroad stations all day or overnight.

Environment

Pollution

Japan’s GHG emissions stood at 1.2bn tonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) in 2015, according to data compiled by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). This was equal to 2.6% of global emissions that year, slightly less than Brazil and Indonesia, but higher than Iran and Germany.

The Carbon Brief Profile: Japan

Violence

Japan’s homicide rate is 0.2, the lowest rate in the OECD, where the average homicide rate is 3.7

In Japan, there are also less people in prison with a rate of 40 per 100,000. In comparison with the USA which rate is more than 14 times higher.

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