In response to the recession following the burst of the bubble-economy in the beginning of the 1990s as well as to counteract the financial crisis after the Lehman shock 2008, the Japanese government implemented multiple discretionary fiscal stimulus measures of different size and content to counteract the economic crisis and to ease the negative effects of the economic downturn for the private sector and Japanese households. While the real macroeconomic impact of these measures on GDP growth was wildly discussed among scholars and politicians, this presentation focuses on the transformation in composition of the recipient of the stimulus measures over time, in particular its changing impact on regional and interpersonal inequalities. First consistent mainly of expansionary expenditures in public work to promote infrastructure development in remote areas in Japan and to raise public demand, the emphasis of the fiscal stimulus measures began to shift from the easing of regional differentials to more socially equitable stabilization policies in response to the growing awareness of vertical income inequalities in Japanese society at the end of the 1990s. How exactly did the composition of Japanese fiscal stabilization measures change over time? Which social groups and regions can be identified as having benefited most from the Japanese fiscal stimulus during the two economic downturns? The aim of this ongoing research study is to explain the underlying change in discourse and to identify the beneficiaries and of the implemented stabilization measures in the timeframe from 1992 until today.
Gudrun Franzen is a PhD candidate at the Bonn International Graduate School - Oriental and Asian Studies, University of Bonn, and currently conducting her fieldwork studies in Japan at the German Institute for Japanese Studies Tokyo.