New people spawned by new times breed new terminology. “Working poor,” borrowed from American English, is now solidly entrenched in Japanese. Then there are the types who prey on the working poor -- “oidashiya,” for example. Professional evictors.
Friday (July 31) introduces them and the hardship they cause to people whose lives are pinched enough to begin with.
The descent from temporary work into unemployment accelerated last year in a tailspinning economy. Gaps in Japan’s safety net have left many in a desperate plight. A parallel phenomenon is a weakening of human relationships that makes it difficult for apartment renters to produce a personal guarantor. Filling the void are profit-oriented companies that provide the service. By Friday’s count, 29 companies dominate the field. It’s a new, risky business, largely unregulated. The line between it and the "oidashiya" is a fine one, not clearly drawn.The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry says it is working on regulations. That’s too late for “Mr. A,” one of several "oidashiya" victims the magazine speaks to.
He’s 25 and living in Tokyo. Last year he quit his temp job, which was leading him nowhere, and enrolled in university on a partial scholarship. The scholarship money plus earnings from a part-time job would enable him to pay his 75,000 yen monthly rent, he assured his real estate agency. Since the scholarship money came in two weeks after the rent was due, arrangements were made allowing for late payment.
For three months, things went smoothly, but in January and February, his job earnings fell off and he slipped into arrears. He intended to make up the difference in March but came home on Feb 13 to find the lock changed and a notice pinned to the door advising him his rental contract had been terminated. The note was from his corporate guarantor, a company Friday identifies as “JCOC.”
Mr. A called them, but his explanations counted for nothing. “Why don’t you pay?” his interlocutor kept demanding. Finally Mr. A was grudgingly granted a month’s grace.
His rent, as per their agreement, was due on the 15th, but March 15 was a Sunday, which seems to have been the excuse for JCOC’s next action. When Mr. A came home on March 23, the apartment had been stripped bare; all his belongings had been removed.
A local consumers’ consultation center, with a lawyer’s help, managed to get his stuff back. Some of it had been damaged. Mr. A is currently suing the real estate agency. As for JCOC, its response to a query from Friday was, “JCOC has closed down. We have nothing to say concerning this incident.”
“You cannot terminate a rental contract simply because a tenant is late with the rent," comments a lawyer the magazine speaks to. "Clearly it is illegal to unilaterally throw the tenant out without proceeding through the courts.” Moreover, “forcible seizure of the tenant’s belongings may well amount to theft.”
Those regulations the Land Ministry promises won’t come a day too soon.© Japan Today