The main purpose of this study is to examine the extent of income inequality in Japan and to speculate on the extent of Japan's economic inequality in comparative perspective. This study focuses on Japanese income distribution and examines the trends from mid-1980s to late 1990s and comparison with other societies. The main questions that are addressed in the analysis are: (1) whether or not Japan's income distribution has become more unequal recently, and (2) whether or not income inequality in Japan is different from that in other industrial nations. Also identified are the sources of the trends as well as possible reasons for observable international differences. Particular attention is paid to income inequality by type of household. It is possible that the trend of income inequality for a particular type of household is different from the general trend of income inequality among all households. Furthermore, the differences emerging in cross-national comparisons may be explained in part by the cross-national difference in household composition among the elderly population.