Japan Today

Tokyo ward barred homeless from evacuation shelters during typhoon

By Dale Roll, SoraNews24

Typhoon Hagibis hit the central area of Japan hard on the weekend, thrashing through Shizuoka, Tokyo, and northern Japan and dumping torrential rains in the area. In the wake of the violent-level typhoon, flooding outside the city is widespread, leaving dozens dead, many missing, and many more injured.

Yet the coming of this typhoon wasn’t without controversy. In addition to some expats in Japan taking offense at NHK’s simplified warning tweet, many Japanese netizens were horrified to learn that homeless residents were being rejected from evacuation shelters in one part of Tokyo. According to the Mainichi Shinbun, two homeless people attempted to enter one of Taito City’s four evacuation shelters in west-central Tokyo, and were denied entry because they couldn’t supply an address.

The news of the policy spread rapidly on Twitter, with tweets as early as the morning of the twelfth, when the typhoon was hitting in full force, getting thousands of likes and retweets. Take a look at this tweet by Agile (@agile_2019), an organization that supports the homeless and needy with food banks and medical consultation services.

“When the Taito City Mayor spoke to the Director General of the Disaster Countermeasures Office, the Director General said, ‘There’s the possibility of further evacuation counsel and preparations, but the Office has decided that homeless (those without stable housing) will not be permitted to use evacuation shelters.’ In reality, Taito City’s Disaster Countermeasures exclude the homeless.”

This caused an uproar among many Japanese netizens, who thought the policy cruel.

“So they’re basically telling them to die just because they don’t have a place to live. Horrible”

“Even if they haven’t got a place to live, they’ve still got a body and a life. They, too, have rights under the constitution, and in an urgent situation the City has the obligation to use their authority to protect them.”

‘Even though they promise to protect ‘everyone’, that ‘everyone’ doesn’t include people who are a burden to society.”

“It’s not like it’ll be for a long time. It’s just a place to wait out the storm for one night, for the most part. Sounds pretty horrible to exclude the homeless in that case.”

“I’m pretty sure that’s a violation of the constitution.”

“This kind of nonsense will not do. It’s absurd that they would turn away anyone who came to an evacuation shelter, or that only residents can use them. That’s basically like watching someone die without helping.”

“I wonder if they’d treat travelers and foreign visitors the same way? Taito City’s policies are puzzling.”

In regards to the last quote, according to the Counter-Racist Action Collective in Tokyo, who spoke to officials in charge, shelters in Taito City were required to prioritize residents, and when asked about travelers, they were told that separate evacuation centers were provided for them. However, those shelters would not accept the homeless either, apparently, leaving no place to go for those most vulnerable to the typhoon.

Though the overwhelming majority of responses were critical of the rule, there were some Japanese netizens who were sympathetic with the homeless yet still willing to understand Taito City’s reasoning behind the rule. Others were in complete agreement with the policy.

“Hm, there are a lot of issues. There’s the need to prevent crime, and I think they should have to write down their address. It’s difficult.”

“If the homeless are in danger they can go to the hospitals. We’ll get rid of their lice and care for them so that they don’t infect others. I think it’s impossible for them to be together with the general public. I think this was the correct decision.”

“They’re not paying taxes, therefore they have no right to the welfare. It’s the right decision.”

According to Tamarin (@tamirin2011), who is a nurse, apparently homeless that have entered shelters in the past have often caused problems for the other people there. Seeming to speak from experience, they related how the homeless didn’t integrate well with the other citizens in the shelter:

“In the beginning we had plenty of space and we were able to keep the homeless separate, but the group became drunk and rowdy, and they started carrying off boxes of supplies without permission. There were so many complaints about them from the residents. Then as more people came, they began to mix in with the residents, and even when warned wouldn’t be quiet, which started to antagonize people.”

Not all urban districts in the affected area banned the homeless from shelters, however. Shibuya and Toshima Wards in Tokyo were accepting homeless into their shelters, and, according to a city councilor in Kawasaki City, just outside of Tokyo, officials made an effort to inform all of the homeless in the vicinity that there were evacuation shelters open to them before the typhoon hit, even going so far as to leave notes in their usual spots.

Toshinori Tabata, assistant chief of Taito Ward’s public relations division, has since acknowledged the criticism over their decision to turn away the homeless, and has said they would like to examine how they can protect and support people without addresses in future by using responses taken by other bodies as a point of reference.

With all-night businesses like internet cafes and karaoke shops–which are popular, cheap places to stay for those who can’t afford to rent–likely closed for the safety of their workers, many homeless probably didn’t have anywhere to go to protect themselves from the lashing winds and torrential rains besides the evacuation shelters. Hopefully those who were turned away found other places that allowed them to wait out the storm.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Hachima Kiko, Twitter/@cracjp, Twitter/@agile2019, Twitter/@tamarin2011

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Typhoon Hagibis turns Tokyo into an eerie ghost town【Pics, Video】

-- Shibuya rats scuttle along streets in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis【Video】

-- Typhoon Hagibis turns skies in Japan purply pink, makes people fear the end is nigh

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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“They’re not paying taxes, therefore they have no right to the welfare. It’s the right decision.”

Someone clearly has no idea how welfare is meant to work.

22 ( +23 / -1 )

This is so like Japan. I'm surprised they don't ask for a certificate of residency (Juminhyo) as well. They just send them back onto the streets to die instead of giving them a bed and a meal. The saddest thing is, officially in Japan, there are no homeless people because without an address you don't exist.

16 ( +20 / -4 )


14 ( +14 / -0 )

Like I have commented before, "omotenashi" only applies when it comes to other people and not in your area!

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Kind of ironic when hundreds lost their homes and in turn became homeless, they rejected their own kind.

So sad Japan, so sad.

That kind of garbage happens when you always go strictly by the book......

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Barbaric behavior. Civilized people help anyone in need during an emergency, when there is a capacity to do so. Turning people away because they are homeless is a pathetic display of heartlessness.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

This was on Miyazaki TV an hour ago. A salesman commented "This will make Japan look bad. Why is this on the news during the Rugby Cup?"

I laughed and said "Naw, you guys don't need help. You do so well on your own."

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Omotenashi is just another nonsense word cranked out by Japanese propaganda PR machine geezers who fancy themselves understanding of others - without actually lifting a finger to do so.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

denied entry because they couldn’t supply an address

This is what happens when people focus too much on the process. While the process requires an address, common sense would dictate that homeless people don't have an address.


The numbers of homeless national have deceased from 30,000 to 5,000

Are you saying all the homeless people in Japan are only located in Osaka? Because if you ever go around Shin-Imamiya station, you will see around that much or even more.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Knowing Japan, I am not too surprised by this news.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Don't ever become homeless in Japan. Also never miss a national health insurance payment.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Free workshop for homeless on giving fake addresses.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

more proof that omotenashi is more brainwashing from the media. Hopefully Japanese people are waking up

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Guess how many homeless were forced from their 'camps' on the riverbanks? How many more were washed away? No way to get these numbers.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

As much as I love Japan to bits, this type of thinking is a real weak point. The emphasis of rules, process and manuals over the human touch causes so much stress, loneliness and rejection. There is a real need for more caring, affection and human interaction here.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I'm shocked, speechless that there is such lack of humanity even a small dignity of compassion for fellow man. Those who even commented about no paying taxes so no welfare, without even knowing if at one time they paid more than their fair share. Unbelievable.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

“I wonder if they’d treat travelers and foreign visitors the same way? Taito City’s policies are puzzling.”

Probably they will they do that in future, if you can not provide juminhyo that stated you live in that ward you'll be rejected. They won't care that it is impossible for you to get home since no available transportation.

This is so like Japan. I'm surprised they don't ask for a certificate of residency (Juminhyo) as well.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Shameful, outrageous, insensitive, inhumane, beyond repugnant !!! The mayor must resign immediately.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Is this what Japanese mind and hearts have come to ???.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This was an state of emergency. Refusing to take in the homeless was basically a death sentence to those individuals! Disgusting and unforgivable. Where is the value of life?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Empathy not a strong point

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Local officials know the number of homeless they have. The requirement of an address targets the homeless for exclusion and suffering. Elevate Suffering, do not add to the problem.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Extremely Terrible

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Having been involved with the education system and speech contests for 36 years here, I am not the least surprised to see even the homeless being ranked and sorted as some being more suitable for human rights than others.

For about 8 years or so, I have been hanging with an award winning NPO, Soup no Kai, a roving soup kitchen serving the homeless around Shinjuku.

Because mass transit was shut down, last Saturday was the first time I can remember the weekly walks had been cancelled. Still, the main facilitator of the group showed up alone, and made the rounds, Here is a translation of the message we received from him — names removed to protect the innocent.


Hello everyone. Here is my report from Saturday, 12. 

I think there were many people who were also worried and helpless in wanting to support the homeless during the typhoon. I'm sorry.

I made it at the regular time of about 19:00, and waited about 20 minutes. There were a lot of taxis, but no one on the streets, and no one else came. Because of the fierce wind, Shinjuku station was like a ghost town. But I was safely able to share some some soup and information. It was a good experience. Thank you, Mr. K., Mr. S., and anonymous friends.

The homeless, guys and women alike, were safely resting, earlier than usual, in places safe from the wind and rain. Some, sitting on their cardboard mats even sharing some laughs. 

There were no patrols around the city or many people around the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Around the underground taxi roundabout, and around the South Exit bus top, the homeless were settled in early for a long night … as if the station terminal was like a large shelter.

Somehow, it looked peaceful.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Hm, there are a lot of issues. There’s the need to prevent crime, and I think they should have to write down their address. It’s difficult.”

Next time provide me with your address please!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Why ? I'm almost certain, if they had it their way this story would have been pulled. How dare they expose homelessness in Japan ? This is a reserve of other countries like N.Korea and Africa, they'll say. Still,the truth will always shine through, after the 3 best cities in the world.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Cool? More like Cold Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Another “Titanic” situation: the first and second class passengers get life jackets and boats. The third class passengers are barred from the deck and locked on the ship to die. Humanity at its worst.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The letter of the law often trumps the spirit in places where people don’t think but blindly follow rules.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Not surprising. Tokyo has never had compassion for the downtrodden. These people have blood on their hands. I wonder how high the death toll actually is...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Great PR, Japan. This was a top 3 story yesterday on BBC.com.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Is this what Japanese mind and hearts have come to ???.

I guess what's worse is that folks in many places are finally waking up to realize that Japan is not the most welcoming place in the world when it comes to people who are "different" or dont fit into a mold.

And that is not something new either, that has been a part of Japan since like forever.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

“They’re not paying taxes, therefore they have no right to the welfare. It’s the right decision.”

The worst person in Japan award goes to this scrotum. What a rubbish individual.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It sounds like so much selfish society. As long as you can pay you can get high quality service. The moment you broken you are useless.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Those prioritizing their comfort level above someone's life should be utterly ashamed of themselves and should hope someone shows them an ounce of kindness if they're unfortunate enough to end up in their shoes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So now people who lost their homes due to the typhoon are homeless too

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If only they had thought to write the address of the shelter....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Before I would spend a night outside in high winds and torrential rain I think I would fabricate an address.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

From my experience (see my comment above), most of those with long time experience living homeless and in the rough, are less likely to cause problems.

Those who have suddenly lost everything are more likely to panic, horde, and not follow a sense of propriety that most long-time homeless have since developed as a sub-culture.

While there may be a bit of overlap, in general, the demographics and circumstances of the Japanese homeless are VERY different from what you will see in the U.S.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Agree with Nikki ... 'They are not paying taxes, ergo not worthy of saving' is both morally repugnant AND wrong. 

They DO pay taxes. 

Most of the homeless receive a small amount of nenkin (pension fund), and taxes are automatically withdrawn from that amount before they even receive it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree with the policy, for the same reasons as those people quoted in the article. There are security and health concerns.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It was one ward in Tokyo, the other wards let them in, so it’s a bit overboard to start “So like Japan’ comments.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

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