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Old age far from gentle for Japan's homeless

By Teppei Kasai

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For decades I've worked in computing research and its understood by me and all of my colleagues that within 30 years, we'll be building computers that rival humans in the kind of intelligence needed for performing instructions according to scripts.

So I think its quite likely that a very high percentage of the world's people will be unemployed. As much as 50-75% or more. So save your money now. This may be seen as the golden era for employment someday.

The skill requirements for attaining stable employment are rising rapidly.

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i come from new zealand. i have been to japan many times. i have seen the homeless and have taken the time to speak with those who wanted to speak some are there by choice some are there because fate has dealt a rough deal it saddens me that this is happening. our people deserve more than a cardboard castle

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what's amazing is even the homeless in Japan live extended lives (while maybe not in comfort, but none-the-less something that cannot be matched in many other countries)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So the tradition of ubasute is still strong in Japan and reflected by the Minister of Finance.

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More should be done collectively by the government / authorities to get these people off the streets. We pay through the nose in taxes here in Tokyo, so let's put some of that money to work! It's frustrating how the aforementioned just turn a blind eye to the problem.

(or even worse - the Ueno Park situation...)

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There are an increasing number of homeless down here in Okinawa as well, particularly because of the climate. It's becoming more and more of a problem that many people do not want to face and they get ignored.

For a country with so many social welfare services available it's a shame that these homeless people can not be assisted.

@Kimokekahuna Hawaii....I sincerely hope you never are forced into being homeless when you get to be their age.

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Folks if you havent figured it out already, the future is here NOW, Japan's govt never has & never will give a damn about its own citizens, the numbers of eldery living on the streets will skyrocket, a great many CAN NOT afford to live in housing after retirement or job loss & society basically doesnt care.

Thats why we see & will see more people taking their own lives, starving in their homes, or in shelters, on the streets(Japans new fangled old folks home!)

The above is why I have sometimes asked the question, Do you want to die(of old age) in Japan? Folks it aint going to be pretty for a great number of people here!

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I don't see many homeless people in Shinjuku anymore ... probably because the police keep pestering them to move on. The other day I went to Ikebukuro and saw quite a few homeless people around the station ... both men & women. So I figured the homless problem is still here, with many of them leaving the Shinjuku area.

When going to and from Yokohama from Tokyo, ever notice all those blue tents along the Tama River? Wonder if their residents are considered homeless or just temporary? I have also seen blue tent ... cities, I guess you would call them ... in other big cities, too, such as Osaka and Nagoya.

The article above says that there are less young people who are homeless ... yet I keep hearing stories of young people "living" in 24-hour internet cafes. Are they being counted in the above survey? And how about those young women in places like Shibuya who pull their homes in their suitcases ... are they considered homeless or just runaway young girls?

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@ Maria Ybanez...well written!

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Kimokekahuna Hawaii, it's very easy to judge people when you are not at their same situation. Instead of feeling bad for them, you see them as wortless human beings because you see yourself as a success example in japanese society. Homeless people sometimes is getting too old for working, and shelters are not doing a proper job in Japan. Instead of thinking about yourself and how perfect you are, you should get more emphaty for others and become a better person.

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Sakurala and ChibaChick...sorry to hear about your parents' predicaments. It proves to show that we are creatures of habits and old habits die hard. But this does not mean that we are helpless. Most people who feel helpless believe that nothing can be done, that they are forever prisoners of their past. They need to learn that this in and of itself is a choice they are making. Once they become aware of this, then change and healing can start.

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sakurala - I feel your pain. I watched my father drink himself to death over 15 years. Lucky for him he still had a home but he lost his job due to the drinking. He never got to meet his son in law, or his grandchildren.

I didnt mean that it can be helped. Just that it must be tough for people knowing their loved ones are on the street. As I said, some are too proud (and yes, you are right, paranoid) to get help.

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Chibachick: I get your sentiment about not wanting to have a family member live on the street but sometimes it really cannot be helped. I am from Canada and my mother lives on the streets there. She is an alchoholic and has been offered help more times than you can imagine. However, she doesn't show up for appointments to get help on finding housing and doesn't seem to want to change her situation. It is sad to see her in such a situation but no matter how hard our family tried to help her, she just would be back on the street in days.

I am not saying that my mother's situation is the same for all homeless people, but it seems that if there is a process to go through to get help, some people just rather avoid the process and stay homeless. I wish that there would be a way to build safe area for the homeless to go to in the evenings rather than them having to sleep on the streets, but even those type of programs are shunned by some due to pride or paranoia.

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the government’s report said that many of the homeless chose to live that way

I first came here over ten years ago. I took private Japanese lessons. My teacher spoke fluent, British English. She was very concerned about BRITAIN'S homeless. I asked her about Japan's homeless and her answer was:

They're homeless because they WANT to be.

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What I dont understand is ... where are these peoples families? WHY dont they want to get jobs?

I think the article states clearly that they want to get jobs but many cant. But as for their families - well, maybe Im just unusual but Im sure there are many people who like me couldnt sleep at night if they knew their MOTHER was out on the street, let alone their GRANDMOTHER!

But older people can be very proud. Maybe she refuses to move in with them. My grandmother did that and it was a nightmare. She refused to live with any of her 9 children, even when she could clearly no longer look after herself. We had to put her into a nursing home.

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Even after reading the article, I still don't understand the problem. An unemployment rate of 4.2% is pretty low. I imagine most countries would be very happy with anything close to 5%. In the article one of the people mentioned that they aren't as strong any more. But in how many jobs do you need real strength any more?

I'm wondering if the source of the problem is Japan's obsession with youth? Companies just aren't wanting to hire older workers, instead just concentrating on the younger. I think it has created quite a vicious circle for Japan. Things won't change until people change, but they aren't willing to change. Or maybe companies are just oblivious to the problem.

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It is a public nuisance to have homeless living in the subway or camping out in parks. If they want to work it would not be that difficult to round these people up..and have they themselves create a clean and safe shared living and working commune in the country. If they are crazy.. a public park with children or a subway is not the place for these people. There is a ton of land .. on farms where workers can do something to contribute to the great good of a community.. but they want to be close to McDonalds and get their shopping carts filled with cans and junk and stink up the streets.. in Hawaii they took over an entire block living with tents on the sidewalk.. creating a homeless community.. not safe to walk by.. can't use the public toilet there anymore.. I dont know why when people are homeless and have nothing to do all day.. they make a mess of wherever they are.. and do not even show one once of humility or shame and make you feel like you are the bad guy.

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Having worked in a volunter capacity for a short time in providing some assistance to homeless in the Kansai area in Japan, in my experience, most of the people whose stories I heard were homeless due to a succession of unfortunate circumstances and they could not find a way out; and some due to mental illness. ...............................Most felt terrible about their deperate situation but often depressed ,demoralized and in a way resigned to their fate - - most felt helpless, and thought that it was hopless to change things..

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What I dont understand is ... where are these peoples families? WHY dont they want to get jobs?

I have been told by many Japanese, that many of these homeless are homeless because they want to be.... and reading articles like this seems to enforce that belief, in my opinion.

If they are admitting that they dont WANT to work, and would rather be on the streets than in a shared home with little privacy ... well ... I kind of speaks for itself no?

-16 ( +3 / -19 )

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