Document Type


Publication Date

March 2011

Journal or Book Title

Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations






This article uses the case of Japan to advocate for a new theoretical approach to the study of the nonprofit sector. In particular, it examines how theoretical models based on the European and North American experiences have difficulty explaining the relationship between the nonprofit sector and the state in Japan, and argues that a state-in-society approach is better suited to explaining complex state–society relations in diverse cultural contexts. It does this by examining the evolution of social welfare service provision in Japan. This article is motivated to explain an apparent paradox: Japan’s recent efforts toward greater government decentralization and privatization of services have empowered and enlarged the nonprofit sector even as they have also expanded the scope of state authority and enhanced its legitimacy.