Exploring the Realities of Japanese Civil Society through Comparison
Has an “associational revolution” taken place in Japan’s civil society? Is civil society in Japan “robust?” We try to provide an answer to these interesting questions by drawing on data we have accumulated from a comparative survey of civil society organizations conducted between 1997 and 2007 in ten countries, including Japan, South Korea, the United States, Germany, China, Turkey, Russia, the Philippines, Brazil and Bangladesh. In addition to the data from the ten-country survey, we used about 40,000 items of data from the 2006-07 Japan Interest Group Survey 2 (or JIGS2), which examined neighbourhood associations, social associations and NPOs in Japan. With the exception of NPOs, our analysis suggests that an “associational revolution”, defined as a rapid increase in associations, does not seem to be taking place across the nation. We can confirm such a revolution at a prefectural level, however, as is the case in Hyogo. Moreover, we find that associations closely tied to the profit sector still make up the majority of the social associations that exist and are also orientated towards economic development. As we expand our focus to include neighbourhood associations and NPOs, though, we find a Japanese civil society that has a strong grass-roots foundation.
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