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Homeless getting younger and younger

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In a deepening recession the homeless are getting younger and younger, Shukan Jitsuwa (Dec. 30) finds. Among those it encounters in the streets of Tokyo and Osaka is a young man who sleeps in phone booths when cold makes shelter necessary, and young women who turn increasingly cheap tricks (for deflation is cutting sex prices too) to pay for a night at a Net cafe or manga coffee shop.

The evidence offered is anecdotal rather than statistical. We are introduced first to “S-san,” who at 53 represents an earlier generation of homeless. A barber by profession, he boldly threw that over when the asset-inflated economic bubble of the 1980s made instant fortunes possible – or seemed to. From his native Hokkaido he went to Tokyo, worked in construction, and sure enough, lined his pockets to the tune of 400,000 yen to 500,000 yen a month. If only it had lasted!

But of course the bubble burst, the jobs dried up, and now he’s reduced to sleeping on cardboard and surviving on food handouts at Ueno Park. Still, he has his pride. When Shukan Jitsuwa’s reporter asks why he doesn’t apply for welfare, S-san shoots back, “Too many restrictions. Doesn’t suit me. Better to be free.”

That proud defiance seems missing in “N-san,” 29. His is a tale of the 2000s. There’s no bubble in his memory. He graduated from high school in Kyushu, drifted to Tokyo, and did temp work for years, living in a company dorm. Last spring he lost his job and, simultaneously, his accommodation. Construction day labor kept him going for a while, but lately even that seems beyond reach. “The main reason,” he says, “is that I’ve got no fixed address, no guarantor. What could I do? I registered at a job center.”

He gets work occasionally, but “it’s just scraping by. If I earn 40,000 yen a month, it’s a lot.”

He’s the one who has taken to sleeping in phone booths as winter approaches. "Still,” he says, “I’m better off than some.”

He’s thinking of young homeless women – a relatively new breed. Many of them are former ero-entertainment workers, squeezed out of a trade that’s no longer what it used to be. Now they service the poor for 3,000 yen or 5,000 yen. “Petty prostitution,” one observer terms it.

In Osaka there’s a place called “Thieves’ Market,” a warren of narrow streets lined with outdoor stalls selling videos, used books, used appliances and the like. Many of the young women on staff, Shukan Jitsuwa says, are homeless.

The magazine for some reason doesn’t ask the women how they feel about their lives, or what they see looking to the future, but the impression is that it’s being shrugged off almost as normal. If so, it’s a sad state Japan has come to, with no short-term prospect of better. As S-san puts it, “I thought when the Democratic Party of Japan came in, there would be more jobs for us, but no way. It’s worse than it was in the days of the LDP.”

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

39 Comments
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sad article for a christmas morning.

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ne kaptain.

The thought of these poor women selling their bodies for just a few thousand yen makes me sad. Its only a matter of time before one of these women end up dead.

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Damn, only 3000 yen? Thats a good deal! Just kidding, but yeah, the article is a lil depressing.

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It is very sad and this is happening worldwide.

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It's really bad luck for the factory or construction workers when they have nothing to do the time their jobs dry up. There is no way to earn bread otherwise they possess some extraordinary skill to be self-employed.

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Construction day labor kept him going for a while, but lately even that seems beyond reach. “The main reason,” he says, “is that I’ve got no fixed address, no guarantor.

This idea of a job guarantor is just completely beyond me. What does the guarantor guarantee? That the person will turn up for work? That they'll work hard? That they won't leave their job? (surely they have the legal right to do that, seeing as feudal times have theoretically finished?) That they'll collect their pay? That they won't ask for a pay rise? The mind boggles.

The government needs to urgently change the law and make requiring job guarantors illegal. There should also be nightly mansions pitched at the homeless. You know, something like 1500 yen a night for a capsule hotel and a shower kind of set up, with roomy lockers at about 200 yen a night for your stuff. These should be enough to give as an address.

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There should also be nightly mansions pitched at the homeless. You know, something like 1500 yen a night for a capsule hotel and a shower kind of set up, with roomy lockers at about 200 yen a night for your stuff. These should be enough to give as an address.

Whoops, I mean 'nightly mansions', just like the 'monthly mansions'. And the locker should be on site, for 24 hour hire, so you vacate the room, but have somewhere to leave your stuff.

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Haven't heard of this type of phenomenon happening in Scandinavia

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The magazine for some reason doesn’t ask the women how they feel about their lives, or what they see looking to the future, but the impression is that it’s being shrugged off almost as normal.

Probably because they made the whole story up without talking to anyone. It's "Shukan Jitsuwa", which is on par with Weekly World News. Believe this at your own risk.

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It is really sad to read this article. Japan used to be such a proud country, and an economic leader of Asia. Now, Japan is a shy and timid creature, growing more insular by the day.

The young and brightest of Japan have given up on their country and have moved abroad to countries like China for better opportunities. In China, not only do these young Japanese with skills hold a more promising future, but they can be assured that the connections they make in the world's largest growing economy will reap benefits far and beyond what they can get if they continued to stay within insular Japan.

Merry Christmas.

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If you doubt that this story is true then go to the front of the history museum in Ueno Park on Fridays at noon.

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Ever since I have been here, the blue tarps have been here. It is not something new. I do find it amazing though that both America and Japan give out billions of dollars to other countries, but do not give a damn about their own poor. Shame on these governments.

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Given that many young people(freeters, etc) at around age 30 cannot find a full-time job due a too diverse job history, lack of good skills/experience, etc. At the same time they also compete with younger and cheaper freeters for jobs at the combini, etc. And many University grads can't find employment too.

This is something that has been brewing for quiet some time now and been hinted at previously. Granted not sure about the accuracy of the personal stories, etc but it is a growing problem in japan.

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Oh man. This is pretty much excruciating... We don't want to hear this on Christmas.

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goddog,

Actually, America gives billions to their own homeless/jobless/poor as well as other countries. That is one thing the Tea Partiers want to stop: government spending on the homeless.

Amerijap, when do you want to hear it?

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There is vertually no real help for the homeless anywhere. I am from the U.S. and without an address or any place to call home, the government here will not help, just like N-san. And when there is help, there are too many restrictions and it make a person wonder if it is worth the trouble. It takes up too three months to recieve food coupons and they are lible to cut you off without notice. Somebody could starve by that time. Japan is not alone in this recession, unfortunately the people who feel the crunch is the ordinary person.

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There is a path out. Take the welfare, get a room, and start knocking on doors for work. Find work and be there on time and do a good job. Build up skills and you are on your way. Support groups may be needed to build self worth. Others may be ill and need to be helped off the streets so that they are not preyed upon by the criminal element. Poor people and yes this is certainly appropriate for Christmas for Christ came for just these folks. BTW how many paychecks are any of us to homelessness?

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OneForAll; Biggest problem for many is the guarantor system.

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I am with stevecpfc.

Guarantor for work, apartment, etc. Never mind the cost of renting an apartment, furnishing it with the basics, etc.

OneforAll makes it sound so easy, but it isn't as job availability also depends on age, sex, etc. Finding a job alone is not enough, will it pay enough to cover everything like medical, utilities, pension, travel expenses, clothing, etc.

Most part-time jobs pay enough for someone that still lives with their folks, etc.

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Forgot to add.

Welfare most likely will put you into a dorm where you share a room with another guy. Communal bath, fixed meal-times, lots of rules, etc

Many won't help you find an apartment till you worked x-months, etc and than you are looking at bottom of the range most likely.

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I dont know what happened to Japan. Im not THAT much older than most of the posters here, but the Japanese guys I went to college with were for the most part CLASS ACTS. Great guys with a sense of responsibility, and the ability to SOCIALIZE, with others.

But, that was a few years ago. After moving here, Ive met some great people, but for the most part, its just people who cant see beyond their own skin. No ability to interact socially on any level. No ability to hold a job. Society in general doesnt seem to see this as a problem because HEY, they are JAPANESE! Unless something is done to teach these people to interact well with others both from outside Japan AND inside Japan... the future cannot bode well. Not for those who cant be bothered to hold a job and contribute to society, nor for the society which becomes smaller and more fragmented with each individual lost.

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You would think with an aging and declining workforce it would be easier to get jobs.

This is a big waste for society. These people need to be given opportunity and motivation to contribute to society in some way instead of bringing us all down. Unfortunately a lot of these people are unable to apply themselves fully to gain the qualifications they need to get good jobs. I know some high school kids like this and all they do is goof off instead of studying and then they complain if you ask them to do anything. People like that are hopeless because they cannot control themselves. Much less so can society control them.

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Tokyo had always homeless Men, but what i see now with anger is the development and increase of homeless Women above the age of 50!

It is a shame for a Super-Rich Country like Japan that there is no offer of Help for this People and the Government can be happy that the Japanese People being quit and silent about this Topico! (There are many more Topics)

Some of this Women are "Mental Challenged", here the Government have the plight to offer at least some Shelter and Day-Rooms and medical Help!!!

Another Issue is that Tokyo have a unbelievable number of (older)free/ Non Occupied social Housing, us, the Taxpayer, paid for them so why we do not reclaim the Houses!

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Spucky.

There is help for them, all it takes is a visit to the city-office. Said that the help comes with a ton of strings and rules, etc.

Many people feel that those rules and being controlled by the goverment 24/7 are simply not worth it for what they get in return and the hoops they got to jump through.

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There are so many things working against these people it is not even funny.

Most ward or city office worker are clueless about the fact that without family and or a full time job with backing from your employer getting an apartment is next to impossible.

For a single person and especially a younger man it is also next to impossible (or should I say highly discouraged) to get city housing.

I am a single father and recently went to the city office to apply for the now available to men "single parent allowance" and again to apply for city housing.

As I don't have a regular job I cannot move from my present place because no one will rent to me.

I got grilled as to why I live where I live and why I want the "single parent allowance" (so did the Japanese man next to me with 3 young children) but the women got in and out in 10 minutes,

As for city housing they seemed completely clueless about the fact that most fudosans and owner refuse "gaijins" and even less those without a full time job, they also seemed clueless that even Japanese can't get a place without backing.

My GF still lives with her mother because she works for a "haken" company and cannot get a guarantor that is acceptable to the owners and the fudosans not to mention the deposit and key money on top of all that.

The Japanese government needs to start changing things by firsts making it illegal to ask for key money (and actually have real penalties to enforce it law) and second eliminate the guarantor system, either this needs to be done or they had better start building a lot of government housing because with nearly 40% of the population now "haken" or part time workers things are going to get bad real fast.

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Agree with limboinjapan.

I am in a similar boat(single parent). Family affairs is doing well but but social services are a bitch. They say get a job any,etc and they don't care about age, sex, single dad, etc just get a job. Like there are many jobs for a 40+, foreigner, single dad going right now(too old to get back into my industry).

One day I asked my Tanto if he knew how much 5k of rice, etc cost, his answer was "I don"t know my wife takes care of that".

The workers at the goverment offices for the most part are totally glueless, they can"t be fired only transfered, get housing subsidies, etc.

Rant over.

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I agree with limboinjapan, the guarantor system is flawed for the average family and or person trying to get by. I am a foreign business man that makes a very nice salary but when looking for housing needs to get a guarantor whom I personally use my in-laws and they rely on me for help. The system is flawed in this retrospect. Their are also people saying that they should get welfare, the system is plagued with difficulties that most homeless find it easier to live day by day.

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What brings the decline of Japanese citizenship in the last 10 years? Perhaps it's time to study the civic engagement and democracy in a Japanese society.

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I visited Japan last year and I did not see alot of homeless people. The few I actually came across would stay in the Mcdonald's overnight a few blocks from me and at first I did not realize they were homeless due to the fact that the businessmen stayed in their business suites and the few girls I saw just spent time using the wifi there. It was not until I realized that the Mcdonald's was technically supposed to be closed and one of the businessmen was passed out that I realized the gravity of the situation. I do have to give the Japanese credit, they tend to maintain their dignity while suffering through tough times. In order to improve the situation Japan has to lax it's policies on foreign business domiciling over there (I heard that it is still alittle tough to get a business going over there) and hope that these companies can increase the hiring needed.

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Also where are these petty prostitutes? I did not see a single one over there. If anything I am surprised that these petty prostitutes did not become hostesses since when I went to Osaka last year there were so many businessmen making out with hostesses that I figured they needed more girls to go around.

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Eliminate the guarantor (housing and getting a job) and key money systems and it might at least give a chance to start to some people.

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IAMTHE1, where did you actually go? There are tons of homeless in Umeda and Namba, but the real homeless areas are further south near Kishiwada. And like you said, Japanese homeless are usually harder to spot than the ones in foreign countries. Just because you visited Japan doesn't mean that you have a firm understanding of the homeless problem or anything about the country.

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Does this mean I would get younger if I were homeless?

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A few homeless in my area, usually one or two per small park, as they got toilets and drinking fountains(for washing clothes, etc).

But many tend to move around during the day using their bicycles to carry their stuff, etc. None of the local guys use blue-sheets, etc.

Many homeless also work but spend the nights at McD or an internet cafe(they usually have showers, etc).

As for the ladies found them easy to spot at the local McD, etc.

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This is just my theory, but.. Young + Homeless => Crime

And a generation of young homeless would translate into a future crime wave. If you've read Freakonomics, I'm drawing from one of the examples cited in America, where a generation of poor single parent families were postulated as the cause of the crime wave 10-20 years later.

If what I put forth comes true, might we see Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya turning into something like 90's New York, Chicago and Detroit? Hope I'm wrong!

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as_the_crow_flies at 03:32 PM JST - 25th December

This idea of a job guarantor is just completely beyond me. What does the guarantor guarantee? That the person will turn up for work? That they'll work hard? That they won't leave their job? (surely they have the legal right to do that, seeing as feudal times have theoretically finished?) That they'll collect their pay? That they won't ask for a pay rise? The mind boggles.

The guarantor the person was referring to are ones for housing not for jobs. In Japan you need a guarantor in order to rent an apartment/house. You don't need one for a job.

I agree with jason6 that this is a recipe for crime. After WWII, the Japanese government announced the philosophy of "Equality for 100,000,000 people" (in an economic sense). This, and of course a rocketing economy, helped create one of the most stable societies in the world.

I'm a strong believer that the less disparity you have in society the more stable it will become and vice versa. I'd like to see Japan revert back to a more socialist style government, society, and policies.

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Wrong, for many jobs they need a guarantor(I did).

The person will be responsible for loss, etc caused by the worker, etc.

Disagree, that it will cause more crimes. Most crimes like shop-lifting are NOT about the basics but about luxury goods that a person feels he needs. In short people with money that feel the pinch are more likely to commit a crime than people that are used to hardship.

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I work in the H/R Administration area and have never heard of a Guarantor needed for a job. I could see needing someone to write down as a contact in case of emergency, but not for a job. What kind of jobs are you talking about Zenny11? Anyway, for an apartment guarantor, they offer services where you pay about one month's rent to get a guarantor to go on your apartment lease contract. And if you don't have much money, then ur out of luck. People talk about phasing out key money or renewal fees, etc, rather than waiting for Japanese law, try and negotiate it out. I have been here over 20 years and of the last 12, I never pay key money or renewal fee because i negotiate it out in the beginning.

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Homeless getting younger and younger???? You would think living outdoors in all seasons would age them faster.... Wow, I have a home and I'm just getting older and older... (grin)

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