• attitudes towards income inequality;
  • Gini coefficients;
  • income inequality;
  • income mobility;
  • top income share

This paper analyzes income inequality, based on government income statistics and an attitude survey. First, the paper describes the present income inequality in Japan by using Gini coefficients, the income share of the top and bottom income classes, and mobilities among income classes. Second, by using the Japan–USA international survey, this paper analyzes the cause of the increasing awareness that Japan's income gap is widening. In these two countries, their distinct value judgments about the causes for the gap influence how they perceive it. The Japanese have negative perceptions about the income gap because they perceive it to be influenced by talent, academic background, or luck, and this perception seems relatively uncommon in the USA. A large percentage of Japanese also think one's income is decided by talent, academic background, or luck, although it should not be. Such disagreements between the desired and perceived determinants of income are thought to raise their negative perception of the gap.