Civil Society in Japan

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In considering civil society and social capital in Japan, we cannot neglect the traditions from pre-modern times which have given Japan its thick layer of voluntary associational activities and a history of human relationships with society based on trust. However, the concept of civil society proper was quite alien in Japan until the 1990s, when civil society began to play a major role in fiscal concerns and the globalization of society. The social capital of present-day Japan is quite difficult to measure in a concrete, comparative manner. However, Japan continues to aim at a high degree of publicness and social capital in civil society. As a whole, social capital, with its potential in neighborhood associations and NPOs as well as rich developmental associations, can presumably maintain its status. In the future, we can expect to see new policies and new associations that follow and maintain this path even under the new progressive regime of 2009.


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