Gender roles and social policy in an ageing society: the case of Japan

Meiko Makita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This article reviews the major underpinnings of the Japanese welfare state in the context of social care from a feminist perspective. In Japan, familycare responsibilities have traditionally been assigned to women; hence, care has long been a women’s issue. However, as the social contract of a male breadwinner and a ’’professional housewife’’ gradually fades out, Japanese women find more opportunities to renegotiate their caring roles. Of course, this social transformation did not occur in isolation, it was influenced by patterns in economic development, state policies and mainly demographic changes. All this has stimulated new state responses in the form of social welfare expansion that arguably aim to relieve women of the burdens of family-care. The issue remains, however, as to whether Japan would be able to recognise that the main structural issues of population ageing do not originate from demographic changes, but from a strict gendered division of labour and gender inequality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-106
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Journal of Ageing and Later Life
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • ageing society; familism; gender roles; Japanese welfare state; social care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Gender Studies


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