The pacific war (1937–45) marked the most innovative period in the development of public welfare in Japan, comparable to the 1880s in Germany, the 1908–14 era in Britain, and the 1930s in the United States. Wartime welfare policy set precedents that shape many aspects of welfare provision in Japan to this day. It is a cruel paradox, but war, despite its immediate, catastrophic effects on human well-being, has played a major role in the evolution of the welfare state.

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