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Downtown Tokyo's homeless fear removal ahead of Olympics

65 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

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Japanese homeless have to hide like rats.

Useless game is the priority over the humanity.

Give them an accommodation and food from food banks!!!!

30 ( +33 / -3 )

The former laborers, clerical workers and others sleeping in cardboard boxes are a not-quite-invisible glimpse of a more pervasive but largely hidden underclass of poor in Japan, a wealthy nation seen as orderly and middle class.

Not to mention the countless number of folks who are slipping farther and farther down the economic ladder.

No thanks in a large part to Abe and his failed policies!

This is just one of many of the dark sides of Japan that rarely makes any headlines other than here!

22 ( +26 / -4 )

The scary reality that without a family or safe net, you will be end up dying on the street if you can’t generate cash flow.

25 ( +25 / -0 )

How does a state ‘remove’ people?

It sounds ominous to me...

14 ( +16 / -2 )

In theory, overnight sleeping at train stations is trespassing

Sounds like justification for 6 weeks in a detention center. Free food and housing.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Theres the same old man outside my station. I’m moving soon downtown, but I’ve seen him here for 8 years.

Rain or shine, summer or winter, he’s there in the elements talking to himself. I have never seen a single city employee or public administrator acknowledge him.

Usually picking up discarded cigarettes and looking through trash, I imagine he would have to become a statistic before the city lifts a finger.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

The problem here isn't nearly as bad as in most other countries.

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

less visible locations

How about giving them a place to sleep?

17 ( +17 / -0 )

The problem here isn't nearly as bad as in most other countries.

No one claimed it was. Why did you feel the need to make the point?

For much the country, homelessness is pretty non-existant, or at least non-visible. In Tokyo it is a much more visible problem.

Finding affordable housing in Tokyo is tough. Rents are high and landlords tend to be finicky. Just getting a rental contract can require six months of rent or more up front.

Such practices can really make it difficult to secure a property. However, in the regions there are far cheaper properties and there is also a labour shortage. There should be a practical plan to help people relocate to regions where there are jobs and properties.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

Let us look at the numbers:

There are 4,977 homeless people living in Japan, according to the latest figures published in July last year by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. That marked the first time in the 15 years since the ministry began keeping records that the number had fallen below 5,000.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/02/national/social-issues/no-one-wants-homeless-glimpse-life-streets-tokyo/#.XiopUmgzbIU

Tokyo's homeless population shrinks 7% in central wards

https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Tokyo-s-homeless-population-shrinks-7-in-central-wards

Yes, Japan has homeless, but the numbers are small

-8 ( +7 / -15 )

Usually picking up discarded cigarettes and looking through trash, I imagine he would have to become a statistic before the city lifts a finger.

and You, will you help him?

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

There aren't any homeless people in Japan.

All Japanese people have a koseki tohon, a family register, which gives a home address. If they have a home address they can't be homeless. It's quite simple, really.

-12 ( +5 / -17 )

sumikonagoya

Yeah I share cigarettes and beers with him man. Do you feel less inclined to judge us now?

8 ( +12 / -4 )

A very difficult issue worldwide, unlike it being as simple as a family register (koseki tohon), food banks etc. Finding a solution for multiple root problems facing each homeless person that put them there is one way forward. For some it may be finding them a means to earn a decent wage aside a home. Past mistakes made, bad loans, unpaid bills, high debt, drunkenness, etc need to be addressed, i.e a "fresh start" others may just require a simple helping hand i.e. "jump start" to get them off the streets and back on track. Throwing social programs is not as easy as it sounds as like most requires immense funding. Of course among the many root problems not being addressed is "mental illness" of which plagues many of the displaced that so many people look down or frown upon instead of "hey what can I do to help". Human compassion is still our best defense to help vs keeping our noses up in the air.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Ah, the constant “It’s worse elsewhere, especially in the West” refrain.

That doesn’t stop it being a problem in your own backyard that can and should be addressed.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

There are 4,977 homeless people living in Japan, according to the latest figures published in July last year by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. 

I wouldn't trust those numbers at all, especially considering the source and what is probably a very restrictive definition of homeless. There are more than that many homeless in Tokyo alone I would think. Then in the smaller cities and towns, there are people living in 20,000 yen/month accommodations as well as squatters. At least they have a place to sleep.

People are hurting, and it comes down to the government choking off the economy to support themselves and their promises - with some for their cronies as well.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Nearly 16% of Japanese fall below the poverty rate

This is foreboding.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

In this country where appearances matter more than anything else, the homeless won't be spared. It's all about keeping face, isn't it.

I'm not sure what services are in place, aside from food banks and shelters, to help these people not only to get by, but also to potentially get them out of this precarious living situation.

Hopefully some can get the mental health counseling they need.

This article is also a good reminder that I should be doing my bit and find a way to help.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Nearly 16% of Japanese fall below the poverty rate, with annual income below the cutoff of 1.2 million yen ($11,000), according to 2017 Japanese government data. The poverty rate for single-adult households with children is way higher, at 51%.

This is awful. Just plain awful. Thank you LDP and Abe

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Yeah people sleeping rough aren't as common as in America but that makes it easier for the government to do something about it and it's a shame they're not really doing anything other than just try and cover it up (under 'international pressure') as well. Typical J management attitude, just sweep it under the rug.

The same happened in Osaka and homeless people were just given blue tents to move out of the downtown areas. Homelessness is a huge problem in the Nishinari area and people occasionally protest (they locked themselves into the day labour centre last time https://youtu.be/acaCLGK97o8)

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Of COURSE they're going to be hidden before and during the Olympics!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

sumikonagoyaToday  08:19 am JST

Let us look at the numbers:

There are 4,977 homeless people living in Japan, according to the latest figures published in July last year by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. That marked the first time in the 15 years since the ministry began keeping records that the number had fallen below 5,000.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/02/national/social-issues/no-one-wants-homeless-glimpse-life-streets-tokyo/#.XiopUmgzbIU

Tokyo's homeless population shrinks 7% in central wards

https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Tokyo-s-homeless-population-shrinks-7-in-central-wards

Yes, Japan has homeless, but the numbers are small

in japan there is unmarked homeless. so your figures......

in the supposition that the figures are true...

Yes many Japanese homeless died as they life expectancy are threaten.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

It's always easier to hide the truth... than finding solutions.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Nearly 16% of Japanese fall below the poverty rate

relative poverty. that is.

Relative poverty compared to everyone in Japan, In other If you are making half what everyone is making, you are poor. But japans income is very high 25k vs 21k

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

16% poverty? that is 2013 number. The number of been treading downward. In fact it about 10%

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Create a place for them to go, but remove them from public areas, forcibly if necessary.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

There are several things going on here. First Japan is spending billions of $ for a 2 week event, that's for the worlds elite. Only a very small % of the Japanese population will even get tickets. Yet the government who should be looking after the homeless would rather hide them, disgraceful! There are 8 million empty houses in Japan why not put them the use, for the homeless that really want a roof over their heads. I know not all homeless don't want to leave the streets because of mental illness, those people should be helped by the government. More than likely a lot of the homeless paid taxes all their lives and helped pay for the Olympics, so help them!

13 ( +13 / -0 )

It seems that every big city has homeless people. Its very depressing.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This is awful. Just plain awful. Thank you LDP and Abe

Don't forget to thank the voters who keep voting them back in.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Dozens of homeless people sleeping rough in such spots worry that with Japan's image at stake authorities will force them to move ahead of the Olympics.

Thats a given...tatemae reigns supreme.

Tokyo city officials deny they are moving to force the homeless out specially for the Olympics.

Oh...please, who believes that?

The poverty rate for single-adult households with children is way higher, at 51%.

Thats absolutely shocking, yet LDP prefers to waste billions on cronies elephant projects and overpriced weapon systems year after year, screw the single parent families....and then of course pretend to be baffled by a falling birthrate.

*sumikonagoya -There are 4,977 homeless people living in Japan, according to the latest figures published in July last year by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.*

Oh cmon....who in their right mind believes the fudged numbers J-govt puts out, but Im sure LDP PR section is pleased with your efforts.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

There are mixed situations here.

genuine homelessness

Voluntary cases

Pensioners who have blown their money through gambling and abuse of alcohol, or are not interested in paying taxes to the government. they sale their houses or any other property they have, and go live on the street.

For voluntary cases i was reading an article which explored the different reasons for homelessness in Japan, and it showed some people in the streets, choose to be there to experience poverty ( deliberate decision). Some want to know what poverty feels like, so that's why unsurprisingly you have homeless people, holding high brand smartphones, eating Burger King, and donning not so shabby clothes.( tell that to the homeless in Kibera Kenya).

Fact: Homelessness is not yet a problem in Japan as it is in the US or other parts of the world.

During the Rugby world cup 2019, i don't think they removed the homeless from their usual hotpots, because i continually saw them on the streets throughout the duration of the tournament. It is also the same time a homeless person in Taito Ward of Tokyo was denied shelter at an evacuation center after heavy rains brought by a typhoon.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

This is awful. Just plain awful. Thank you LDP and Abe

> Don't forget to thank the voters who keep voting them back in.

Point taken.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I read that there may be an all-night train service during the Olympics. Could that be a solution? It may be illegal to sleep in stations, but I am sure JR could not make it illegal to sleep in trains. If it were illegal to sleep in trains, the railway police would be far too busy.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tokyo is a cruel city. A student of mine goes to a church which handed out lunches to local homeless people on a Sunday afternoon. They had to close it down because the neighbours complained about the homeless people turning up in their street every week.

And the reason there are no public benches in Tokyo? Because the city would rather have no one able to sit down and rest anywhere rather than allow a homeless person to be able to. It's awful.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Why would anyone be against the idea of finding another place for the homeless to stay? It’s a win-win. They have a place to sleep unmolested and the public gets to enjoy clean spaces.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

move em all out of tokyo, no reason why public spaces are used for them, benches are not for sleeping rough and no reason to turn tokyo into LA, SF or any other slum like invested 3rd world city.

Dont want to participate in public life - be moved by force to periphery to work in gardening and so on, used them instead of "trainees" from other countries.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

No need to fear the uncertainly. They will definitely be removed. Not rehoused, just relocated. Never mind that it's largely government policy to blame for their situation.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

As community service assisting the homeless, have all them crook politicians and corporate executives form a two-weeks accommodation with food and beverage collection from all the money they stole from us tax-payers.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

How many homelesses are in New York? I heard before that the U.S. government do not extend helping hands to them for the purpose to let people learn lessons that if you do not work hard, you will become like them. It is a ruthless society.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

So Japan has to import foreign labor to fill a shortage... and yet the streets are full of unemployed who would love to work.

Which is it?

Or is it that most of the homeless are the result of Japan’s lack of care and facilities for alcoholics and the mentally ill.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Rehouse them in temporary shelters and then rehouse them with a home. Look at the way the Finnish solved their homeless problem.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"This is my community. We all help each other," Tozawa said. "There are no dirty homeless here. We are all 'trendy.'"

In what's clearly a routine, he and the others quietly prepare for the night, picking their favorite spots, neatly folding blankets. Some change into sleepwear and wipe their feet clean with wet towels, daintily placing their shoes beside their lopsided cardboard shelters.

Err... walking through that area occasionally, I must say that is a mixed bag. Some are very organized, but there also bunch of drunk figures surrounded by trash who clearly do not care about hygiene at all. Seems to me some should to talk to them individually.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

in my country (the Philippines), during a previous administration, whenever "big" international events happen, they "hide" the homeless too, and since they are too many, they focus on those areas where the foreign visitors most likely would pass by... and when it broke out in the news, the social welfare department said that they were being taken to a retreat...and that was when the Pope visited our country last 2015... my country is mostly Catholics, and many homeless are Catholics... why would they be made to go on a retreat when they should be among those who lined the streets to see and hail the Pope? and I thought things like these happen only in poor countries like mine... I guess it happens everywhere though... I think it falls on private institutions and individual citizens to help the underprivileged because sadly, governments haven't been doing a good job about it...=(

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Alfie NoakesToday 08:20 am JST

There aren't any homeless people in Japan.

All Japanese people have a koseki tohon, a family register, which gives a home address. If they have a home address they can't be homeless. It's quite simple, really.

-10( +2 / -12 )

This speech about the koseki tohon proving that there aren't any homeless in Japan was actually made by an LDP minister several years ago. It's good to see that so many people won't accept such nonsense!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

@Alfie Noakes I understood your original message which was meant to be sarcastic.

You are quite right.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'd be surprised if the poor were not moved elsewhere, the Chinese did the same for the Beijing Olympics, even destroying some of the hutongs, old houses where people had lived for centuries. Image is everything, but a better image would be created by dong something about the poor's housing problem!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It’s nice living out in the countryside where the homeless don’t go.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Boy there are some heartless comments here. I hope these little self proclaimed saints never face what these people are.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

It’s nice living out in the countryside where the homeless don’t go.

yep, nobody gonna give em handouts at country side...must suck to actually work for living

Wow, that's pretty heartless. A lot of homeless people do in fact work. The guy who lives under a bridge in my area is always out sweeping the streets and sidewalks, cleaning up. I give him sandwiches and other food and he appreciates it.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Nearly 16% of Japanese fall below the poverty rate, with annual income below the cutoff of 1.2 million yen ($11,000), according to 2017 Japanese government data. The poverty rate for single-adult households with children is way higher, at 51%.

Nearly 16% is a pretty average figure worldwide, about the same as the US and France, much higher than in Canada, less than in Germany. Way ahead of all those figures is the 22% estimated to be living in poverty in the UK, although that seems so outrageous I'd like to think that figure is based on a different way of calculating things. Or maybe the Brits are just more honest about it.

Efforts to clean up what some see as urban blight have preceded every recent Olympics, including those in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro.

Every recent Olympics. So wanting to "clean up" the problem (if it is a problem) is not just an expression of some peculiarly hard-hearted Japanese attitude towards the homeless..

The reasons why people are homeless and on the street are complex. Mental illness is the most frequent cause of why people lose their bearings and control of their lives to that extent. The situation at Shinjuku station and in the parks, despite the laws, seems to indicate a certain degree of understanding and tolerance of the problem, under normal circumstances anyway. You can never eradicate homelessness. You can only manage it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why don’t they rehab a small town where there are many empty homes and pay the homeless to repair them. Afterwards they can live in them, and where they could collectively be taught a trade and or teach a trade or craft to others. This permits them to keep their dignity and not a burden to society. Japan could be a role model for other countries.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

If japan still have homeless ???.who faults is this ??? so much tax payers money used .Still homeless are not housed ???. Then the govt are spending billions on defense and other non interesting issues ???.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Homelessness is not such a problem in developed socialist states, but that may be hard for Americans to understand as they seem to equate socialism with communism.

The problem in many right-wing countries is that there is not enough welfare for the poor, the ones who need it, and too much welfare for badly-run businesses and no longer needed businesses.

Do the Scandinavian countries with their form of socialism have much homelessness?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

don,t worry about these homeless (in a city with 37 million people, they,ll always be out there, and unlike the homeless in many other big cities, these (Tokyo) homeless are not dangerous).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The new working poor are people working with jobs but can't afford to rent a room.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Welfare offices try to get people to move into shelters but many, like former construction worker Masanori Ito, resist. "They have rules," - It would be nice to know why shelters are considered to be so horrible that the homeless rather prefer staying in the streets.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

While the government does have a role. However, the community plays a larger role, especially in cities.

Probably because most people that live within the cities do not want to associate with others and those that come to the cities from outside, the suburbs and the countryside do not have the time nor the inclination to be associating with others outside their workplace. Best illustrated by the total disregard of others on the public transportation. In the cities, it appears to be "me first" and "only for me".

Unless one lives close by and is a "regular" at some spot such as a bar or restaurant or a park, walking a dog, there is very little interaction. Even then anyone not meeting some appearance standards, are ignored or shunned.

The problem is both social and individual on the part of the homeless as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Having said the above, I hope that the local governments and the city take steps to help contain the spread of corona virus and other illnesses among the homeless.Givenj the current situation, it is not just moving them just for image sake during the Olympics.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow, that's pretty heartless. A lot of homeless people do in fact work. The guy who lives under a bridge in my area is always out sweeping the streets and sidewalks, cleaning up. I give him sandwiches and other food and he appreciates it.

Serrano- we don't agree on a lot of things, but good on you mate. I'd shake your hand now if I could. This is the correct way of dealing with homeless people. we need to HUMANIZE them first. And that' s something gov and the public in many places around the world have trouble doing.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

humanize... they are human, just lazy ones or junkies or gambling addicts

Ah, the usual predictable, macho, rightist guff.

Mental health issues are often an issue with homelessness.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Poverty is always the issue

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Relative poverty compared to everyone in Japan, In other If you are making half what everyone is making, you are poor. But japans income is very high 25k vs 21k

and then you say...

16% poverty? that is 2013 number. The number of been treading downward. In fact it about 10%

@sumikonagoya, you made these two statements yourself - did it occur to you that the first explains the second? The relative poverty rate could be trending down because everyone is poorer.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Jimizo - mental issues should be locked in mental houses and not roam streets at night

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Zichi - poverty is a result of bad life decisions and poverty is relative , if you cant afford rent in tokyo because you dont make over 20man a month... move somewhere where rent is much much cheaper.. and you wont be poor. Most of poverty is because of low mental capacity causing bad decisions or addictions such as drugs or gambling or alcohol.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

All cities need affordable accommodations for people who earn less.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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