Murakami, Shinji (2012). "An application of the capability to the Japanese public assistance additional payments: a study of needs and agency" Paper presented at the 9th annual conference of the HDCA, 5-7 September 2012, Jakarta, Indonesia.
Japanese public assistance has some additional payments which response to the special needs of some social categories. The additional payment which are provided single mother had temporarily abolished, but the new government born mainly by the Democratic Party in 2009 restore it. However the new government did not have intention to restore the additional payments for an elder age recipient aged 70 and over. This additional payment was also abolished when the additional payment for single mother is abolished. On the February 2012, Japanese Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit of the public assistance recipients who claimed that abolition of additional payment was unconstitutionality. The ground of judgment of Supreme Court is the statistics that the monthly amount levels of consumption of the recipients aged 70 and over are less than 60’s recipients. According to capability approach, the valuation of well-being is not sufficiently the level of consumption only, therefore the validity of judgment of Supreme Court should be asked anew. As the study about Japanese public assistance reform, Gotoh (2009) had discussed the well-being of single mother recipient, pointed out the problem of public assistance reform, and suggested alternative reform in term from the concept of capability approach and public reciprocity. Today, the standard of public assistance is re-examined in the government’s council. Perhaps, the problem of needs in public assistance reform clearly exist in the additional payment which response to the special needs. The capability approach has useful merit to capture and measure these special needs. The purpose of this paper considers some questions which are raised by applying the capability approach to the Japanese public assistance. Concretely, this paper focuses on the elder additional payments which is pressing matter and considers some issues in term from needs and agency freedom (Sen (1985)). The structure of this paper is as follow. In section2, this paper stipulates needs in term from capability approach. Section3 examines agency freedom and public reasoning.