By Giuliano Bonoli;Toshimitsu Shinkawa

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However, alongside the public pension pillars another peculiar scheme existed, which could be considered a ‘quasi second pillar pension’. The TFR (trattamento di fine rapporto) was, and still is, a severance pay that firms must compulsorily grant to their employees when either they retire or leave the company for any other reason. 5 per cent plus 75 per cent of the inflation rate. As contributions are only virtually accumulated, the TFR represents an important (and relatively cheap) source of financing for companies.

Terminologies found in the literature include social insurance vs. multipillar systems (Bonoli, 2003); Bismarckian vs. Beveridgean (Bonoli, 2000; Myles and Quadagno, 1997); mature systems vs. latecomers (Myles and Pierson, 2001; Haverland, 2001); social insurance vs. latecomers (Hinrichs, 2001; Palier, 2003). 3. Although in some countries (France, Germany) social insurance schemes are formally run jointly by representatives of labour and employers, all important decisions concerning, for instance, eligibility and benefit levels of contributions are taken by governments of parliaments.

Compared with these two cases, Japan experienced democratisation and political competition for pension expansion a number of decades earlier and has been engaged in retrenchment since the mid-1980s. Perhaps one distinguishing feature of East Asian pension policy is the fact that developments in pension policy take place in a shorter period of time, a few decades or less, compared with the long history of Western pension systems, which for most countries spans over nearly a century. This is particularly true in the case of the Korean experience.

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