HOMELESS IN JAPAN
The peak times of Japanese homelessness occur during the New Year’s period when construction shuts down…
- one of the first settlement impacts of the investment concentration in major Japanese cities was jiage, or violent uprooting, of old-timer residents from inner town areas by real estate companies, which found speculative opportunities for office space development in the latter 1980s;
- there have always been homeless people but they have tended to be day labourers reliant on finding work every day in the yoseba (labour hunting area). However, since 1998, even non-day labourers and younger people are becoming homeless;
- according to Tamaki, at the end of 1999 there were about 19,500 homeless people in Japan. Some 70% of these were in Osakaand Tokyo. A majority of them were single, male, daily-wage labourers, though more recent homeless people include dismissed younger workers, and 10% of the homeless in Tokyo are women;
- the worst-ever unemployment ratio of 4.6% (over 3 million laid off workers) does not seem to improve in a short run. According to a recent report, half of those unemployed are 20-30 years old. In the wake of this economic trend, the number of homeless people has rapidly increased. In early 1999, its number is 8,660 in Osaka, 4,300 in Tokyo. Yokohama City's official statistics says the number of its homeless residents as of August 1999 has grown 1.8 times over last 12 months;
- according to a survey carried out in1999-2000, 75% of the homeless quoted unemployment as the major cause of their homelessness, while less than 10 % listed other reasons such as family problems, human relations and financial debt;
- in Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka, there are many men camping out in tunnels, many of whom appear to suffer from alcoholism and mental illness. They are allowed to stay on the streets unless they disturb someone. They appear to include a sizeable proportion of Koreans (an ethnic minority in Japan) and Burakumin, an ‘untouchable’ lower caste.