Development, Democratisation, and Social Policy: Social Politics of Welfare Reforms in Korea and Japan

Much of the debate in recent years concerning the significance of new democratic states is premised on the assumption that democracy and development are complementary and forward-looking concepts. This is in marked contrast to the earlier prevailing view that development goals in developing countries could best be assured by strong states with little reference to the level of democratisation or civil society. The empirical justification for this view lay in some palpable success of rapid economic growth, engineered by the developmental state in East Asia such as Japan and South Korea, where social policy was subordinated to economic development. However, strong states are also bound to adapt to changing social, political and economic realities for effective governance. The state-led late developers needed to accommodate democracy and globalisation and hence to adjust their social policies to meet political pressures and new socioeconomic challenges. To this end, this paper will investigate triangular interactions between development, democracy, and social policy through the comparative study of Japan and Korea. Particular attention is paid to differences in the structure of social politics between the two countries. The paper also examines the deliberative governance of strong states in maximizing the compliance and cooperation of societal actors for the sake of achieving economic and social goals.