Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

'Corona poverty' spreading and getting worse

28 Comments

People’s lives are going up in smoke, and there’s no end in sight.

 It’s 2 o’clock on a recent Saturday afternoon. On a street near Shinjuku Station, 100-odd people are lined up, waiting their turn. The NPO Shinjuku Gohan Plus is distributing free meals. They’ve been doing it since well before the COVID-19 outbreak, but 30 percent of the recipients are newcomers, victims of what Spa! (May 5-12) calls “coronavirus poverty.”

Among them is “Kenji Yokota” (a pseudonym, like all other names in this story).

Aged 50 and single, Yokota lost his job in December. It had nothing to do with the virus. He’d worked for a cabaret club, boarding in its dorm, but a quarrel with his boss drove him to quit. He could always manage on day labor, he thought – and so he did, mostly as a construction site security guard. How could he foresee that a raging viral epidemic would shut down his sector, along with so many others?

Sometimes he sleeps at a friend’s house; occasionally he “splurges” and stays at an overnight sauna, but mostly he beds down on a bench at Ueno Park.

It takes its toll. “Sleeping rough wears you down; you’re more likely to get infected; and if I do, can I even go to a hospital, with no income?”

“I want to work!” he cries plaintively. “Anything, I’ll do anything.” Some job interviews did materialize, but he’d arrive only to be told the hiring plans are on hold during the emergency. “Call again on May 6,” he’s told. But how much change are we likely to see by then? Meanwhile, he’s down to his last 10,000 yen

The story has a happy ending, of sorts. A few days later, Spa!’s reporter gets a phone call. It’s him. At another free meal distribution, an NPO rep advised him to visit city hall and ask about welfare benefits. He did, and was told he qualifies. That’ll keep him going. For now, that’s all he asks.

Particularly hard-hit by corona poverty are “night workers” – like “Misato Nakai,” 23. Work as a provider of “delivery health” sexual services hadn’t been her first choice. Circumstances drove her to it – a poor family, a substantial student loan to pay off, the wretchedly low pay in the nursing care industry, where she’d worked previously. You can’t live on 170,000 yen a month in Tokyo, she found.

Delivery health? It has its drawbacks, but monthly earnings above 1 million yen a month make up for them, she decided. Then came COVID-19. Since she visits clients rather than have them come to her, she’s not covered by the emergency measure closing down other forms of ero-entertainment. But clients in a pandemic prefer to err on the side of caution, if erring it is. She’s still available, still hoping for an upturn as she watches her savings shrink and shrink. Soon, she figures, she won’t be able to pay rent.

The elderly are no less vulnerable. “Eiji Oishi,” 63, is a freelance carpenter. It’s a chancy business at the best of times. There are good months and bad months – the good ones must make up for the bad. March and April are normally good. Spring is the season for large-scale events, and carpenters like Oishi are in demand. This spring, suddenly, there are no events. The jobs he’d had lined up evaporated.

 He’s single and childless, living in a one-room 30,000-yen-a-month apartment. What has he to look forward to, even after normality returns? “At my age it’s hard to find new jobs.”

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

28 Comments
Login to comment

Japan is in trouble now as everyone else around the world...

Just Be positive and Stay safe...

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Misato Nakai, 23, was making "about 1 million a month" and she'll soon be out of money? Really? She must be leading a very expensive life.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

1,000,000 a month!??? Really, she mus be a pro.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

That's just the start.

You can’t live on 170,000 yen a month in Tokyo, she found.

Princess, you'll never consider you have enough money to live.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Japanese people need to push back against this coronavirus hype.

The mortality rate is far lower than was originally reported and does not warrant shutting down the entire economy.

If Japan's economy wasn't in bad enough shape, the last thing it needs is a knee-jerk reaction to a virus that doesn't kill any more than the normal flu.

Don't let the fear-merchants in the media and government scare you into submission.

Stand up and demand to be allowed to work!

-2 ( +9 / -11 )

Shinichi said it. More people need to speak out and go to their local officials offices and speak their mind.

This is not the time for complaining to your family members or friends.

Call your favorite businesses and ask them to open.

Japan has already been doing social distancing for ever. You don't have to stand 6 feet away. Just wash your hands, wear a mask if you're really paranoid. Take off your shoes and don't shake hands. Japan already does this.

Ad that clear plastic stuff at stores now is overkill.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

I wish the reporter asked “Misato Nakai” how much she made. Does she make a million yen a month? How much after taxes? How much for rent? Utilities? Food? Student loan repayment? Entertainment? Savings? How long has she been working as a provider of “delivery health” sexual services?

Some years ago, I caught a program on people who use manga kissa as their abode. One girl was a hostess who made a million yen a month. She didn't want to live in an apartment. She liked living at the manga kissa because there were people around plus the free drinks! (Seriously... she seriously said this...) She spent every bit of her million yen every month. What's the point of saving? (Oh dear...) She took cabs even when she could easily walk or take the train. Her major splurge was entertainment. She loved frequenting the host clubs. (The rest of the people who were interviewed were not well off. They made just enough to cover "rent", food and transportation. But they were hopeful of landing a good job and renting an apartment.)

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Misato Nakai, 23, was making "about 1 million a month" and she'll soon be out of money? Really? She must be leading a very expensive life.

A lot of women in this life do spend a lot. I think they need to, psychologically, to create some glamour in their lives to make up for the nature of the work. It can be a self-perpetuating cycle that's difficult to break out of.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@Shinichi Hamada

Well said!

Japanese people need to push back against this coronavirus hype.

The mortality rate is far lower than was originally reported and does not warrant shutting down the entire economy.

If Japan's economy wasn't in bad enough shape, the last thing it needs is a knee-jerk reaction to a virus that doesn't kill any more than the normal flu.

Don't let the fear-merchants in the media and government scare you into submission.

Stand up and demand to be allowed to work!

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Japanese people need to push back against this coronavirus hype.

Actually, Japanese and all of us who live and work here need to push back at claims that the virus is hyped, exaggerated and an over reaction.

It certainly isn't and we've been lucky so far. I'd rather it all would just disappear but that's not going to happen if unverified sources want to ruin it all by rushing things.

Be wary of such postings where you're urged to destroy the mostly good work done so far.

What jobs do these people do, will they be at the forefront of dealing with the public?

You don't have to stand 6 feet away. Just wash your hands, wear a mask if you're really paranoid. Take off your shoes and don't shake hands. Japan already does this.

Ad that clear plastic stuff at stores now is overkill.

Are you a medical professional?

2 ( +9 / -7 )

I think with a shared apartment you could live in Tokyo on 170,000 yen a month easy. In fact, college students who live here make by on far less. My observation in Japan is that interestingly you can make almost the same money in rural areas or smaller cities as a nurse, teacher, etc. so if you have a low income it is better to move out of Tokyo in my opinion.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Reckless

I think with a shared apartment you could live in Tokyo on 170,000 yen a month easy.

Our minimum monthly outgoings for living in seaside/countryside location is ¥250,000. Maybe if we reduced our food bill we could make it ¥200,000.

Even with benefits and restrictions spent quite a bit this last year on healthcare.

Average rural wages are probably 20-30% less than the big cities. Bigger homes, cheaper rents, cheaper public transport (we have a very good community bus ¥100 and community taxi to certain places, ¥200). Cheaper food less 20%, can easily grow your own vegetables for about one hour per day. Big open spaces were we already live in social distancing. I think one aspect is the total lack of noise.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

US, 200 deaths per million. Re-opening.

Germany, 80 deaths per million. Re-opening.

Korea, 5 deaths per million. Re-opening.

Japan, 4 deaths per million. Closing.

What kind of idiot is running this place?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

@RationalReader

> US, 200 (actually 400) deaths per million. Re-opening.

Germany, 80 deaths per million. Re-opening.

Korea, 5 deaths per million. Re-opening.

Japan, 4 deaths per million. Closing.

Good point.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Good point.

Yeah, it clearly shows that the US us opening up before it’s ready.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Are you a medical professional?

Are you?

And since when did people decide that their society should be ruled by medical professionals? Is Dr. Benway still available?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Yeah, it clearly shows that the US us opening up before it’s ready.

Well those numbers are only part of the story. In the US just 1,000 people under 45 have died from the coronavirus. Less than 100 under 25. And most of these individuals had co-morbities. Therefore, young people and those under 45 are very unlikely to die from the coronavirus. Even less than from the regular flu.

The people least likely to be affected by the coronavirus should be allowed to return to their normal life. Those in the risky categories should continue to self quarantine. The damage to the economy could end up causing more misery in the long run than the current blanket restrictions.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Misato Nakai, 23, was making "about 1 million a month" and she'll soon be out of money?

I am not a psychologist but Nakai seems to have something going on that is keeping her from leading a rationale life. I am not judging her for her profession but her inability to manage her finances is going to lead to a life of misery - even after this pandemic subsides.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The people least likely to be affected by the coronavirus should be allowed to return to their normal life. Those in the risky categories should continue to self quarantine.

I have no problem with that approach myself if it’s one that’s both scientifically and economically based. So far I’ve only seen people pushing for this who are doing so politically and have not shown that there is a scientific basis behind the approach.

This is where I take issue. I don’t think the decisions society makes in regards to it’s economic, social and physical health should be driven by the ramblings of a leader of a cult of personality who clearly has no clue what he is talking about.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

So far I’ve only seen people pushing for this who are doing so politically 

you might wanna rewrite that feeling.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

you might wanna rewrite that feeling.

It was a report of an observation, not a feeling.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sounds like at least one other story may involve a happy ending.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have a feeling the reporter really wanted to write about Ms. Nakai, as dirty as this sounds. Is there any pity for her? Can’t live on ¥170,000 so she took up a ¥1,000,000 job giving sexual favors. I guess JT enjoys publishing this, too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Are you?

Nope but I prefer to listen to professionals rather than randoms on the internet.

And since when did people decide that their society should be ruled by medical professionals?

Should they be ruled by conspiracy theorists, instead?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It was a report of an observation, not a feeling.

So observations are not based on feelings.

Got it

Like a terminator eh?

invalid CSRF

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

There is more than enough money for everyone to be fine for the rest of the year. The problem is that it’s hoarded by the capitalist elites at the top. The rest of the peons are left scrambling for the crumbs.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

And since when did people decide that their society should be ruled by medical professionals?

Life expectancy has been steadily increasing in the world for the past 200 years. It went from 46 years old in 1950 to 71 years old now. And one of the biggest reasons is because... Yup, you guessed it, our societies are ruled by medical professionals.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The coin has two sides, you have told us one side of "Corona poverty" how about another side of "Corona riches"

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites