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'Poverty business' becoming new social problem

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At the end of 2008, a so-called tent village for laid-off temporary workers in Tokyo's Hibiya Park drew nationwide attention. About 500 unemployed people gathered and called for public support for employment.

Heading the village was Makoto Yuasa, 39, secretary general of non-profit organization Moyai. A law graduate from Tokyo University, his thesis was “The left wing in the pre-war era.” In the late 1990s, Yuasa started his activities for homeless people and the poor. He launched Moyai in 2001, acting as a guarantor to help homeless people find a place to live.

Journalist Hideyoshi Kabashima, who has written stories about Yuasa before, says, “Yuasa has acted as a guarantor for more than 300 homeless people and helped 1,000 people get public welfare benefits. His contribution to poverty issues is great because of his organizational and strategic commitments.”

While Yuasa's activities have been welcomed by the unemployed, a so-called “poverty business” that exploits money from the public sector for those people is now becoming a new social problem.

Journalist Hatarau Nomura explains what the poverty business is like. “An organization requested the unemployed to kick back 100,000 yen from 140,000-yen welfare benefits as a monthly cost for residence and food it offers. In reality, the unemployed are given a six-mat room to live in with another roommate, and instant noodles. They can take a bath only three times a week.”

In fact, members of some organizations, which have been blacklisted by the Tokyo metropolitan government's welfare department, were spotted in the tent village, according to a metropolitan government official.

Yuasa's second business has also caused some controversy. He runs AWN (Asia Worker's Network), a recycling shop for electrical appliances. A spokesperson for AWN says the company makes more than 50 million yen profit a year. AWN sells recycled appliances and furniture for 40,000 yen and 25,000 yen respectively. AWN's spokesperson says the company sometimes sell their products to those who are receiving support from Moyai.

Critics say that in the United Kingdom, which is one of the leading countries offering support to the poor, no one who runs charity organizations owns profitable organizations at the same time because they don't want people to misunderstand that they are exploiting the poor.

According to regulations, the local city office can provide a maximum of 24,800 yen for necessary electrical appliances. For special needs approved, 39,700 yen is provided. If applicants don't buy anything, the money must be returned, according to a welfare official of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Meanwhile, as the number of unemployed people rise, the process of screening who is eligible to receive public support is not working effectively. One unemployed man who spent New Year's Eve in the tent village says, “I saw some who were really looking for jobs and others who just wanted a free feed in the village. Some were just sleeping and some were stealing others' belongings.”

A metropolitan government official admits things were chaotic at the tent village. “We usually spend two weeks making a decision on each welfare benefit recipient. This time, we simplified the process so we could give welfare benefits within a few days. I'm afraid that drew welfare cheats.” (Translated by Taro Fujimoto)

© Japan Today

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9 Comments
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teh business seems fine to me, he is helping teh people who need help teh most.

Moderator: Please post in correct English. The word is the, not teh.

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Modeditors,

It's not clear from this article of Yuasa is ripping off the homeless. After talking about the good work (perhaps) Yuasa is doing via Moyai, a journalist says, "An organization requested the unemployed to kick back..." 'An' organization, to me, means 'not Yuasa's organization, but another one.'

But then "Yuasa’s second business has also caused some controversy." 'Also' in this sentence leads me to believe Yuasa's Moyai business is also iffy. But it's not clear.

So, which is it? Is Yuasa's Moyai and AWN both ripping off the homeless, or just one or is it an entirely different organization doing the ripping off?

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Whoever is complaining has not realized the cost of social unrest.

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yes, the article is definitely vague and possibly even misleading. but i don't think that is because of this site's writing. i think it is part of the way of thinking of many people in this country. basically, you've got a whole bunch of homeless people in one place which represents a real problem. in an ideal society, you can't have problems, so you need to blame it on someone or something. so yes, perhaps some of these organizations are taking advantage of people. but even the ones that aren't screwing homeless people and/or society over will take a beating because many ordinary citizens would rather take this situation and throw it in a box than think about dealing with it.

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It's a Shukan Post article - the ambiguity is probably deliberate, rather than due to any deficiencies on the part of JT itself.

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One unemployed man who spent New Year’s Eve in the tent village says, “I saw some who were really looking for jobs and others who just wanted a free feed in the village. Some were just sleeping and some were stealing others’ belongings.”

You don't say ...

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I can tell you that if you quit a job or sign any paper that says that you are resigning for any reason, that you have to wait 3 months before you can get unemployment benefits.

Some companies will try to trick you into signing something like that because it gets them off the hook for paying your unemployment.

On the other hand if you are "fired", you can get unemployment benefits within a few days or a week. Here is some tips that you should know.

If your job is going south, keep your mouth shut and make them fire you. If you have been at a job longer than 6 months, it's nearly impossible for a company to fire you. (unless you do something against the law.)

If your company is going to let you go DON'T SIGN ANYTHING! You are not required by law to sign any document. They can not hold your salary. They have to pay it. If they threaten you that they will hold your pay. Walk out and head down to the Ministry of Labor and register a complaint. They will jump through hoops to pay you off to settle that.

Tell the HR person that you want your Rishoku-hyo immediately. This is the paper you will have to turn in to the Hello Works office to get your unemployment.

After that go immediately to your local Hello Work office. This is the Japanese unemployment office. They have 1000's of jobs, and the companies that hire people introduced by Hello Work do not have to pay any recruiter fees. That will make your resume that much more appealing to the companies that they introduce you to.

Don't let your ability to speak Japanese bother you about going to Hello Work. They have a special on in Shinjuku just for us foreigners. The people that work there are very nice and very willing to go the extra mile to help you.
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If these people have $1000+ a month in benefits to hand out to scammers, they need to just rent an apartment and live off of that. I know people who live just fine on less outside of the city.

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This article is disjointed and makes leaps in thought. It appears there are unscrupulous businesses which take a large percentage of beneficiaries' money and under-deliver promised services, or rather over-charge for services rendered. Got it... No wait, the director of a non-profit charity also owns a for-profit business. The for-profit business sometimes sells goods to people who obtain benefits from or through the non-profit. A bit odd-sounding, but not unscrupulous.

Where is the connection here? Seems someone is trying to intertwine guilt by fabricated association. Slow news day? Or Daily-Mirror Japan Edition?

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