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More middle-aged men made homeless by coronavirus

17 Comments

“Daisuke Yoshida” sleeps in his car. “Masao Hishida” sleeps in parks. Both names are pseudonyms. Both men are victims, though not ill, of the coronavirus pandemic. Spa! (Sept 8-15) portrays them and others as swelling the ranks of the “corona homeless.”

Yoshida, 38, and his wife owned a tourist guest house in the Tokai region. The tourist industry has been gutted by the pandemic. The Yoshidas’ earnings this spring were down 80 percent from last. In May they hosted one family. The rest of the story is fairly predictable.

As bankruptcy loomed, the couple, formerly harmonious enough, grew acrimonious. Tensions magnified every trivial disagreement into a crisis. Yoshida at last settled his financial affairs as best he could, emerging with only unpayable debts for assets. His wife, with their 5-year-old daughter, moved in with her parents. Yoshida moved into his car.

Occasional day labor earns him food money. Then he seeks out a vacant parking lot, parks his vehicle, and settles down for the night. We’re left guessing how he feels about this – bitter, we imagine. He’s far from alone, Spa! tells us, though just how large this floating population is seems to escape statistical measurement.

Hishida, 53, was a college student 30 years ago. Unable to pay tuition, he dropped out, falling into the “hiring ice age” that characterized the recessionary 1990s. There followed a succession of part-time jobs. Then came what seemed like a break – full-time status. Dormitory accommodations were available. Finally he seemed to have gained a foothold. His drifting had led him somewhere.

To nowhere good, as it happened. His employer proved to be a “black company.” Employees were overworked, underpaid and bullied. One, Hishida says, was driven to suicide.

He quit finally, unable to endure it. He was by now past 30. Next he landed a job with a manga cafe chain, rising to area manager. “Manager” is a nice title, which some employers bestow willingly because it permits them to demand “service overtime” – a euphemism for unpaid overtime. The overwork broke him physically. Once again he found himself not only jobless but homeless.

He drifted across the country, from job to job. In Fukushima he joined a crew cleaning up radiation from the nuclear meltdown. In Hokkaido he worked shelling scallops. In Hiroshima he joined a worker dispatch firm that sent him wherever a hand was needed. Back in Tokyo, he found work at a factory. Here too he lived in the dorm and congratulated himself on his good luck.

Corona put an end to it. The factory laid him off, telling him they’d contact him as soon as things got back to normal.

That was five months ago. For a time he received support from an NPO. That arrangement ended, for reasons not clearly explained, in early August, when the mid-summer heat was at its worst.

He sleeps mostly in parks. He’s sensitive about how his unwashed body must smell, and sees – or perhaps imagines – children shrinking from him. In consideration of them and their parents he moves from park to park. When Spa! spoke to him, he had 2,000 yen in his pocket.

He lives, he says, mostly on water. Maybe the factory will contact him. He hopes so but doubts it. As for things getting back to normal, there’s no sign of it happening any time soon.

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

17 Comments
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First there’s an article about how corona is hitting women especially hard, followed by an article about how it’s hitting men just as hard.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

followed by an article about how it’s hitting men just as hard.

Only if you think all men are middle-aged and homeless.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

These two men's stories are heart breaking.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Homeless middle-aged men in Japan is nothing new. What's more shocking these days is that more and more young men are joining their ranks.

To be fair, other advanced nations are just as inept when it comes to dealing with the swelling population.

We are slowly moving towards a world full of vacant buildings and people sleeping on the streets.

If only there were a way to kill two birds with one stone......

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Very sad. Japan has ample resources to help the homeless. There are I understand millions of empty houses and apartments that could be used. I can't imagine how much worse it must be in poorer countries such as China.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

When a person is healthy and willing to work, even at jobs they don't especially care for, but can't find any work, it is very sad.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

I often meet Big Issue sellers that have have had traumatic pasts and/or underlying medical conditions.

There are many impoverishment people out there in Japan.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

To ease these horrible situations, the Japanese Government (and maybe other world governments like Mainland China) should sign into law for eternity A BASIC INCOME OF 3,159,000.0 YEN FOR EVERY SINGLE CITIZEN FOR ETERNITY WHICH WOULD BE UNCONDITIONAL. If the Japanese Government gave every single citizen a basic income of 3,159,000.0 UNCONDITIONALLY, things would be easier, everyone would have a cushion, less stress/anxiety and in effect sleep much better. If everyone received a basic income of 3,159,000.0 YEN for eternity, it would be beneficial if someone falls on hard times and in effect give them ample breathing room.

THIS IS NOT FAIR AS TO WHY SOMEONE SHOULD HAVE TO SUFFER NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES FOR FALLING ON HARD TIMES???????????????????????????????????????????????

IN CONCLUSION, IT IS TIME TO FIX THESE HORRIBLE SITUATIONS WITH A UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME OF 3,159,000.0 YEN FOR ETERNITY WHICH WOULD BE UNCONDITIONAL.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

A BASIC INCOME OF 3,159,000.0 YEN FOR EVERY SINGLE CITIZEN FOR ETERNITY WHICH WOULD BE UNCONDITIONAL.

Well I might stop working with that kind of income, and what if everyone did as well? Then we would all have a lot of paper money with nothing to buy.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

baroque1888

In conclusion, it is time to fix these horrible situations with a universal basic income of 3,159,000.0 yen for eternity which would be unconditional.

First of all, you don't need to type in all caps to state your point. Second, Japan is already deprived of supply because of COVID. Giving everyone money would just inflate the prices of everything including rent.

How about opening more jobs with benefits? I mean, they're still middle-aged and the industry needs manpower.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Baroque1888, how delightfully utopian! What you forget is that governments have no money they only have what they steal from you. Whatever a politician promises to give you he first has to pickpocket someone else.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Frankly cannot understand why these men do not work as there are many job offers at bentoyas from 950 yen an hour, 5 days a week, 40 hours a week, plus 45 extra hours (zangyo) Bentoyas accept people over 50 years old. Hard work, honest work.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

His wife, with their 5-year-old daughter, moved in with her parents. Yoshida moved into his car.

Why couldnt his wife make a little space for her husband there as well....wedding vows sadly have become meaningless, if things are worse or you have sickness your spouse will often bail on you..................what a world we exist in....

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I remember sleeping in my car for awhile while attending University. Had been accepted for admission, but didn't have enough money for both tuition and a place to sleep. Managed to find a part-time job, and after a few weeks got a place to sleep. I can't imagine going through that as a senior citizen. As a young man in my twenties, was capable of putting up with almost anything, but not anymore.

Sincerest sympathies to anyone who is homeless. Hang in there, and don't give up.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

While the stories are heart-rending and plausible, one still has to wonder whether they aren't fiction. SPA is well known for stretching the truth, or simply making it up out of whole cloth. Google "Japan SPA magazine scandals".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"****His wife, with their 5-year-old daughter, moved in with her parents. Yoshida moved into his car.

Why couldnt his wife make a little space for her husband there as well....wedding vows sadly have become meaningless, if things are worse or you have sickness your spouse will often bail on you..................what a world we exist in...."

@GW

I completely agree, but we're not getting the whole story. Maybe he didn't want to "lose face" by moving in with the in-laws, maybe he and the in-laws don't get along, maybe there were some conditions of stay there he couldn't meet or didn't agree to.

Being homeless, I can't imagine. "Surviving on water", not knowing where your next meal is coming from and knowing that you desperately need a bath and some clean clothes, terrible.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"...Bentoyas accept people over 50 years old. Hard work, honest work."

The workers are honest but the employers are not. Many employers (not only box-lunch suppliers) are loathe to admit they actively discriminate based on age of the job applicant.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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