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The Tokyo Homeless in the Globalization Age1

Boonlert Visetpricha

This paper examines the homeless situations in Tokyo. In Tokyo, we can find many
homeless people living in many public areas, such as in public parks, riverside walkways
or railway and subway stations. The paper will consider this phenomenon in two
questions: why does the successful country like Japan experience with so many homeless
people; and how does the Japanese government manage such problems?
Homeless, which is the symbolic of extremely poor, is always seen as a contrasting
picture with an image of the richest country. The picture of a homeless at the Shinjuku
railway station, which is the biggest business area and the most crowded station in Tokyo
as well as a main walkway to the Tokyo Metropolitan Office, is a paradox in itself.
This paper argues in two main issues. First, it argues that the causes leading to
increasing of homeless is related to the globalization process, especially after the Japanese
companies moved their plants to cheaper labor countries. This condition has created a
huge impact to Japanese labors who loss their jobs and eventually become homeless
people. Secondly, paper presents the both sides impact of policy managed by Tokyo
metropolitan that aims to reduce numbers of homeless people in Tokyo.
By excluding and disgusting a homeless, the writer argues that this method will not
only make the situation worse but it will also create more conflicts, especially between
government officers and homeless people. Therefore it is necessary to understand the
factors which push many ordinary people to become homeless before launching any
On the process of information gathering the writer spent six months in Tokyo
between October 2004 and March 2005 for the field research. Although the writer mostly
worked closely with non-government organizations and people organizations, the

This paper develops from “The Study of Homeless Management in Tokyo and Manila”, which author
received a grant from the Asian Public Intellectuals (API.) Programme under the Nippon Foundation. I
would like to thank you to Prof. Yoshinori Murai director of Asian Culture Institute, Sophia University,
where I was a visiting researcher and thankful to Prof. Peter Shimokawa, the advisor of Nogiren, Mami
Nakamura graduated student of Sophia University and every homelessness and volunteers who gave me a lot
of assistance during the period of this research. In addition I would like to thank Prof. Asami Yasuhito from
Hitotsubashi University, Takami Kojima volunteer of Saalaa and Klerwal Meemongkol , graduated students
at Hitotsubashi University. However all of them did not responsibility to defection which maybe in this

government’s perspectives for solving this problem was also considered. The report
included documentary research and fieldwork interviews from various sources, such as
citizens who were directly confronting with problems, members of non-government
organizations, scholars, and government officers, aiming to make this report to fully cover
in every detail.

Background of homeless in Japan

In the following sections, the paper will start by giving an overview of homeless
background in Tokyo, which explores different characters comparing with homeless in
Bangkok. During ten years, numbers of homeless in Tokyo has increased six times (from
1993 to 2003) while the numbers of homeless in Bangkok seems to be inactive, not
significantly increasing. According to the last survey on 2003, there are 25,000 homeless
people in 47 prefectures of Japan.

Numbers of homeless in Japan

Year Tokyo Osaka All Japan Resource

1993 1000 Estimate
1994 2000 Estimate
1996 3,500 Tokyo Metropolitan
1998 4,295 (8,660) 16,247 Ministry of welfare
1999 5,800 8,660 20,451 “
2001 5,600 24,090 “
2003 6,361 7,757 25,296 “

According to the statistic above, Osaka is the city, which there is homeless more
than other cities, including Tokyo a capital city. Some academics explained that the scale
of economy in Tokyo is bigger than in Osaka; therefore it can absorb surplus labor more

than Osaka. (Mizu’uchi 2001) Another reason is that Osaka is the heavy industrial city,
which affects the employment situation when this sector decline and make those jobless
persons to become homeless (Aoki 2003).
The most distinct characters in Japan are that more than ninety-five per cents of
them are single and old man. There are very few women homeless and a family type is
scarce also. These characters are different from numbers in Bangkok where we can find
many female homeless and family homeless with children.

The first survey on homeless people from all over Japan during January to
March 2003 by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry shows the number of homeless
increases 1,296 from 2 years ago and the homeless were found in all 47 prefectures and
has been spreading to prefectures that have no major cities, the detail from that survey
shows as belowi

The average age: 55.9 yrs.

Most of them are male, only 749 are women (3,886 unspecific genders)

84.1 % of them had a fixed place of residence.

Park 40.8% Riverbanks 23.3 %

Road Side 17.2 % Railway, subway Station 5.0 %

Other places 13.7 %

The Job type before they became homeless.

40 % full-time jobs 36.1 % daily employed workers

55.2 % Construction 10.5 % Manufacture

After they became homeless

64.7 % have a job 73.3% of them gathering recycled things

49.7% want to work. 13.1 % choose the lifestyle as they decide

The cause of becoming homeless (multiple answer)

Cannot find work 35.6 % Laid off 32.9 %

Cannot work due to illness and old age 18.8 %

Decrease of income 16.4 %


According to the information above we can found the significance in 3 points.

Firstly, most of homeless is senior citizen. Secondly, the main cause which pushes them
become a homeless is related with a jobless problem. Finally, they do not willing to be
homeless they want to overcome from homelessness, but they are not able to do it. Then
we will consider in the detail background about them.

From Sanya to Shinjuku: From Daily worker to homeless

Although amount of homeless in Tokyo increased until was perceived by public in

early 1990s but the rough sleeper was not a recent phenomenon. There were rough
sleepers in Japan for a long time. There are a Japanese term, Furosha mean floater and
imply impurity in the Shinto religious. Furthermore they were not quite disgusted and still
received charity from generous person (Ikeda and Kramer, 1999).
Later, during 1960s – 1970s the industrial sector in Japan spread quickly, many
people migrated from rural to cities for seeking to a better job. Labor in industrial factory
is more security than other sectors. The lowest labor is daily worker in the construction
section. They lived in the Yoseba, a district which daily worker seek for a job and agency
seek for a labor and pick up them to a site. In Tokyo the biggest Yoseba is Sanya, on the
east of Tokyo. However today less known the name of Sanya because the Tokyo
Metropolitan tried to delete the name of degraded area from a memory of Tokyo people by

erasing the name from map and divided this area to three districts. (Guzewicz 2000:48)
Sanya today is not far from Minami Senju station. The biggest Yoseba in Japan is a
Kamagasaki in Osaka; other large Yoseba is Kotobuki in Yokohama, port city.
Daily worker live in the daily hotel call Doya, a slang word from Yado in Japanese
mean small hotel. Areas where there are many Doya call Doya-gai. When a labor has a job
they can afford a rent room however when they were no job no money they sleep in public
area i.e. on side walk or river side. Japanese term call a daily worker who rough sleep as
Nojukusha. (Yuasa 2001: 149).
Doya-gai is different from a slum even it is housing for a poor people similarly. In
slum a habitant live with their family, their wife and children, but in doya gai dweller is
single man only no relatives. This group maybe likes a hobo in America during 1960s.
Hobo wondered to job sources such as a construction site, transportation project and lived
in daily hotel call skid low (Rossi 1989; Gill 2001).

Previously, life of daily worker in Yoseba is a popular topic researched such as

Hidei Aoki studied at Kamagasaki. Edward Fowler researched at Sanya and Tom Gill at
Kotobuki. Daily labor is a marginal group in Japan. Their insecure lives were controlled
and exploited by Yakusa, Japanese mafia, by a form of agency. Later they developed
exploitation by preparing food and lodge in advance even in a jobless time and would
charge in the high price when they found a job. This lower labor organized themselves as
union labor in the communist way but many leader were murdered by right wing groups
(Guzewicz 2000).
However, Nojukusha life is perceived in restricted area of Yoseba. Most of people
did not concern about them. Until homeless people coming from daily worker dispersed
from Yoseba to riverside, railway station at last at Shinjuku station. The present of them
out of Yoseba were perceived as a new phenomenon like a homeless people in developed
countries. Therefore the new term was invented to call them by media as hoomuresu
which alter from homeless in English
We can summarize a distinction between Nojukusha and the 1990s homeless
people in 2 main points.
Firstly, a rough sleep of Nojukusha is a temporary during waiting for a job because
1960s – 1970s was an economical growth period. However for homeless from 1990s, their
jobless are permanent and chronic from bubble economy and structural changes. Thus, a
first place where homeless present themselves to public is Sanya and dispersed to Ueno
Park, a place not far from Sanya. On 1993 Tokyo people very concerned about homeless
because homeless intruded to Shinjuku station for seeking to a food and job.
Secondly, form of homeless changed after 2000. Background of homeless in 1990s
most of them come from daily worker in Yoseba. However after 2000 background of them
from middle class who have been work in office, company. A character of later group was
reported by media as polite, reading and cleaning, they are not dirt or drunker.
Furthermore a new homeless who came from a province but can not seeking for a job and
become homeless is also increasing that why we can found a younger homeless easier.
Patricia Kennett and Masami Iwata (2003:69-70) in Precariousness in Everyday
Life : Homelessness in Japan used the data from the survey at the east of Tokyo on
March 2000 by Masami Iwata pointed that, the homeless 60.3% never lived in Yoseba so
we must change our understanding in most of homeless people does not become from


daily worker in Yoseba. In the early of 1990s the homeless came from Yoseba, but in the
late of 1990s, they came from another background.

Unemployment from Globalization

Accordingly, reader may conclude that many homeless in Japan happen from a
bubble economic on 1990s which made jobless persons. Unemployment is the major cause
of homeless people, when they lost their job or can’t find a job, and have no money to pay
for the accommodation and then become a homeless. However this understanding is true
only certain part due to it not able to explain that why after 2002 when the country
economy is recovered amount of homeless is not decrease, why unemployed people could
not be returned to have a job. Therefore the homeless people still more unemployed
because of the economic structural change to the globalization that is the main cause of
unemployment. So the homeless phenomenon does not come from the economic

A concept of globalization is a polysemy. The general meaning is that it is a result

of progress on information technology; telecommunications make people, labor, financial
can move very fast cross the nation boundary. Globalization leads to a smaller world or
create a global village; an action at one part of the world will affect to other part
unexpectedly. Of course, the meaning of globalization is not only situated in the
economics dimension but it also influences other dimensions, such as culture, ethnic,
ideology and technology. However in this paper I emphasize only in the economical
Globalization in this context is a moving out of industrial investment from Japan to
developing countries. The result of this process makes economic structure change from the
industrial sector base to service and information sector base. A tendency of the problem in
production sector occurred from 1970s due to over benefit on balance of trade, made a
higher price of yen. Therefore to keep a lower cost, Japanese company move to

developing countries which lower labor cost such as Malaysia, Indonesia etc. (Honjo 1998)
Thus a labor demanding in Japan decrease and this situation get worst after economical
bubble the construction sector which had absorbed surplus labor demolished after bubble
economy on 1995-1996.


Hideo Aoki in Homelessness in Osaka: Globalization, Yoseba and Disemployment

(2003) explained the impact of globalization that increases number of homeless in
Japan. He presents two types of unemployment, one is daily laborers that come from
construction worker, or in his word is deyosebisation, and another one is the
disemployment of casually employed unskilled worker.

The unemployment rate is increasing after bubble economic burst (1992) and after
economical restructuring. (Japan)

1990 2% 2000 4.7 %

2002 5.4 %

The changing from the manufacture to service sector

The percentage of worker in manufacture decreases while the percentage of

worker in service industries increases (Osaka)

Manufacture Service Sector

1985 29.7 20.2

1990 27.8 22.1

1995 23.8 25.1

In addition, a changing of employment system made impact homeless also. A

lifetime employment which has been a unique type only Japan has decreased. Flexible
employment system was substituted, and a new job offered is only part time job, short
term contract. Lastly employer prefer Arubaito employee, an irregular work maybe have
working day only 5 days per month, for saving their cost in some sector such as moving
household, caring a garden, security guard.

The ratio of part time job per total job increase (Japan)

1990 11.1% 2001 22.1%


Full time decreased while casual employees increased (daily labor and part time job)

Full time workers casual employees

1992 80.4 19.6

1997 74.3 25.7

The decrement of lifetime’s employment is also evident in the reduction of number

of job opening in the major companies where having more than one thousand employees,
decreased from 35.7% in 1991 to 22.7% in 1996.

Volunteer at Kotobuki analyses impact from Globalization that the solving of

homeless problem is very difficult because globalization. In the past, if a profit of
company is not good, employers and employees can consult and find out the solutions that
are good for both sides. Employees may accept to decrease their wages in order to help
their companies to be survived. However, in the process of globalization the company
move out to aboard without consultation or negotiation; and it makes employees to
become jobless person and in eventually to be homeless.

From the detail as I said above we can found that the increasing of homeless is an
unavoidable situation due to jobless problem is embedded in an economical system. If we
want to overcome this crisis it demands to change a paradigm of thinking. Business and
government must not concentrate only maximized profit but should consider how the
system can provide a job for most of people and how to care many people who are
excluded from the market labor, such as senior citizen, disable person unskilled labor.
Therefore I would not like to make a misunderstanding that a jobless in only one
factor of homeless. Next I will present other factors of homeless and measure to reduce
this crisis it demand to reform the system

Social Welfare System

The most related homeless social welfare system is the assistance name Seikatsu
hogo. According to The Constitution of Japan and Social welfare law, the government


insured the living standard of all Japanese people who must be not discriminated and the

impoverished people (konkyo) could claim the assistance from the government. ( Kennett

and Iwata 2003:63) In Tokyo, if the impoverished people apply for claiming the Seikatsu
Hogo at the ward office, when the consideration is improved, they can get 80,000 yens per
month. However in the reality, not every poor homeless can claim this assistance, the
officer is very strict to pay the money only for the person who has the age over 65 and for
the chronicle diseased person who can not work. Most of homeless people who are over
50-65 years old and having difficulty to find jobs will not be able to get assistances from
the government. This is a part reason of increasing of homeless people in Japan, because
the government didn’t prevent them before their becoming a homeless.

Housing Policy

Although having no many papers concerning with the housing market problem in
Japan which related to homeless people, I think this issue should not be overlooked.
Yoshihiro Okamoto and et al. in Homelessness and housing in Japan (2004) argued in
this issue that the central government in Japan didn’t take responsibility for housing.
Almost of houses were built by private companies, whilst the amount of the government
public housing is less and the criteria for the eligibility for public housing are so strict.
Therefore, only few people can get accommodation in government public housing.
However, there is still the other way to help workers to get accommodation, if the
company employs them, because they can do through the company’s benefit program.
That means, if they lost their job, they lost that benefit as well. The provision in Japan for
people to get the accommodation is based on encouraging self-help to work. If they get
work they will get the accommodation too.

Furthermore the apartment renting system in Japan is very difficult for poor people
to live since they have to pay ‘the key money’ for landlord around 2 months when they
need to start renting. This ‘key money’ is not refundable and need guarantors to be
presented. If they do not have the guarantor, they can rent only the daily basis renting
room (doya) but it is expensive at 2000 – 2500 yen per night.

Besides, if we consider the number of long-term unemployment around 1.12

million but the number of homeless is 25,269 so, I think the reason that push them to be

the homeless is not only one dimension such as an unemployment, but it also has a multi-
reason that push them to be homeless people eg. the weakness of family, financial problem
etc.. Nevertheless, I think they have faced many problems at the same time such as they
lost a job and lack of supporting from family or had a debt problem etc. Particularly,
their short financial state drives them to turn to be the homeless ,which is still be less
mentioned, but from my study in depth detail, found this is one factor pushing them to be
and also hardly overcoming this obstacle.

The process of development policies and the homeless movement in Tokyo

In this paper, the period of policies was divided into 3 periods by considered from
the turning point of each policy and the impact of that.

First period: The eviction policy (1992-1997)

When increasing of number of homeless people and until become the visible
sociality in Tokyo in 1992-1993. Initially, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG.)
and its citizens refused to accept the homeless problems as being caused by the social and
economic systems and there was not any policy to response to the increasing of homeless.

At that time, the homeless were severely managed focusing on evicting them away
from the public areas. Especially when the homeless spread from Sanya, shrink on the
northeast of Tokyo, to Shinjuku station and other business area of Tokyo

In the late of year 1993, TMG form the joint committee for studying the problem
of street dwellers with 23 wards administers but it was not efficiency because there is the
different situation among 23 wards.

February 17, 1994 the first eviction happened at Shinjuku station, damboru house
was evicted without any protest from the homeless and they were moved to the temporary
shelter for 4 weeks, however this was the starting point of homeless movement in
Tokyo. (damboru =card box)

There was the first organized supporting the homeless to come back to the station

January 24, 1996; the important eviction happened at Shinjuku station again, but
it differed from last 2 years ago, because the homeless people had a process to protest the
eviction. Even the result of protesting didn’t succeed because 200 homeless people must
be evicted by 820 police, and this situation was the big news reported by many media,
television, newspaper and the impact of these reports reflecting to the public concern with
the homeless people and critic about the government’s violence.

Maybe, the effect of the eviction could conclude as;

1. The public society denied the violent measure that government treated to the
2. The government avoids using the violence and big eviction because the media
will report that, however the small eviction still keeps occurring.

3. The homeless and supporter can present their problems through media to the
public especially the wording “give me a job” that makes the public society understand the
cause of unemployment of the homeless, that is , they are not lazy, they just need to work,
but no job for them.

4. The impact from the policy is not acknowledged because the government still
uses only temporary shelter, Sakura ryo. (ryo=dormitory) ,where the homeless are
unwilling to stay . At the beginning, the government have no any specific policy to support
homeless people, the nearest policy that was applied to help the homeless is the social
assistance (seikatsu hogo), but as I pointed out above, only old homeless and chronicle
diseased people can claim the seikatsu hogo and live in the dormitory or cheap hotel, not
for the most of them who are not willing to live in the temporary shelter prepared for the
evicted person, then a lot of homeless people still living on the public place.

Second period: Jiritsu shien center and Homeless Law 2002

The idea of Jiritsu shien center had been occurred after the big fire broken out at
the card box village at the Shinjuku station and 4 homeless people were killed in the
morning of February 7, 1998. The organization of homeless people in Tokyo demanded
the public support for houses, jobs and welfare, and has claimed that the government


should arrange various options from which is the best each homeless person can select for
him. (the jiritsu shien center is just one of them) x

The principle of Jiritsu shien center is to support the homeless for self - reliance in
the long term by working. (Jiritsu = self-reliance, shien=support) This concept is
developed from the failure of temporary shelter, for example the Sakura ryo, because the
homeless don’t want to sleep in the dormitory style and unwilling to rely on the food from
the shelter, they need to work and survive by themselves, so the TMG got the idea to set
up the center for support homeless people to find a job for a long period.The most
difference between the shelter and the Jiritsu shien center is the center provides a program
to help the homeless to find a job and a consultant to give them an advice.

The process of this program has 2 steps; first step is everyone needs to live in the
shelter for one month. In the shelter every one will be assessed and divided to 3 groups.
The first group is the person who can work and want to work; this group will pass to the
second step that is the jiritsu shien center. The second group is the person who can’t work
maybe because of the injury or too old of age whom are suggested to receive the seikatsu
hogo. And the third group is the persons who are assessed as disability, which they can
work but don’t want to work so they could not receive any assistance. Of course, the
process to assess that issue is not clear.

If we consider this idea as a surface, it is very interesting because they try to

support homeless people to survive by themselves not by relying on the others.

However if we consider in the fact of homeless situation in Tokyo, this idea is

not functional, why?

1. In the concept level, to support homeless for self –reliance, in reality, everyday
they survived by themselves already, for example: by collecting the aluminum can, or
books, doing part time job. Perhaps, there is some misunderstanding if government
thought they are not self-reliance. Furthermore, maybe it is a negative thinking if the
government thought they are lazy and must be trained to work.

2. The serious critics is Jiritsu shien center can only support the homeless to find a
job but can’t serve or guarantee the job for them. In fact they have to find the job by


themselves as though they are not live in the center. Furthermore, from the statistic of job
offer, it is very difficult for them to seek for the regular job, they can find only part time
job same as they themselves live outside, especially most the old homeless is very hard to
find a job. Also, cannot guarantee the job, so the center can’t efficiently help homeless
people to overcome the homelessness. The homeless must have uncertain life in the
globalization world.

3. The management problem; the dormitory style room, human being don’t like to
sleep with the strangers. Everyone needs a private area. In the center they must sleep with
20 persons on the bunk beds in one room, maybe someone makes a loud, serious
environment, sometimes have a squabble. And the restricted time for only two months is
not enough.

From the above reasons, please consider the statistic of Jiritsu shien center. At first,
the number of persons who enter the shelter is 8,577 persons but only 4,652 persons can
move to next step to jiritsu shien center, some of them can not pass the assessment to the
next step and some move out from the shelter because they don’t like that shelter. Next,
the number of person who enters the Jiritsu shien center is 4,652 persons but the person
who could find the job is only 2,152 persons or 51 %. Furthermore the homeless supporter
gives me an opinion that they have followed up the group who could find the job, he
discovered that they got only part time job that is not enough to save the money to rent an
apartment, while only 50 % in that group could find regular job. In conclusion, this means
the persons who entered the shelter are 8,577 persons, but only 2,182 could find the job by
supporting of jiritsu shien center, that is only 25.4 % and actually only 12.25 % could find
the regular job.

The Tokyo officer defended the Jiritsu shien center’s program by comparing the
number of homeless people in Tokyo and indicated that it was stagnant from the year
2000; not increased, in contrast, the number of homeless in all Japan is increased. That
means this program can freeze the number of homeless people in Tokyo, some of them
could overcome from homelessness, but someone return to be homeless again and many
new persons became the new homeless. Although this program can not reduce the number
of homeless, it can prevent the increasing number of homeless people. If TMG does not
action any things, the situation will have to be worse than the present.


The problem is not only Jirtisu shien center is effective or not, but this program is
also justified as being a method to evict the homeless from the public area.

The both side impacts of Homeless Law 2002

When the Jiritsu shien center started in November 2000, this program was
expanded to other cities and some organization requested the budget from the government
to support the homeless and developed to the demanding for the special law to support
homeless people. In August 2002, The Law Concerning Special Measure to Support the
Self-reliance of the Homeless was granted by the parliament.

In positive side, means the government has concerned with the homeless situation
and attempted to help them because this law has assigned the local government to design
the measure to support homeless people for self-reliance and the central government will
support the budget for that program. According to this law, the first national survey of
homeless was happened for the first time in next year and each city has designed the
program for supporting homeless people to self-reliance and Jiritsu shien center is the
major program for most of cities. In Tokyo, the TMG plan to build 5 Jiritsu shien centers
for the homeless support. As per the above I mentioned, the Jiritsu shien center is
ineffective because it can not provide the job for the homeless.

However that is not much serious, the more serious one under that law is Article 11
because it allows the manager of any public facilities such as city and park can take
necessary actions to protect the facilities for the appropriated use. That means this the law
allows public authorities to evict the homeless for the “appropriated use”. In the same
article although was assigned such action shall be performed in line with the measures to
support self-reliance living of the homeless and other related measure. This measure is
only legitimacy for the eviction, but is not enough for homeless people in the long term.

In Tokyo, the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara prohibited new tent-buildings

in public areas from October 2004 onward. This policy made the situation of homeless
become more seriously. And when 9 homeless from Shinjuku build new tents at Yoyoki
koen, only next two weeks on October 16, 2004 their tents were violently evicted by the
60 police and officers.


Third Period: Apartment policy for moving out homeless tent from the park

After the Jiritsu shien center was used for supporting homeless people in 2000, in
February 2004 TMG announced the new program for homeless tent in the five parks such
as Chuo koen, Toyama koen, Sumidakawa koen, Ueno koen and Yoyoki koen, by moving
out people to apartment room. This project used 600 million yen for 2,000 people,
including 380 million yen to rent apartment room. Under the program, TMG cooperated
with NPO to seek apartment room, which is rented within 50,000 yen per month but the
homeless will pay only 3,000 yen, and the rest will be supported by TMG for 2 years, after
that they must pay by themselves for all rental fee. Additionally, TMG will provide the job
for homeless people during six months in order to guarantee that they will have the new
life by having job to do and sufficient fund to cover the rent after they move from the

Tokyo officer explained the source of this program, because Jiritsu shien center can
only support the person who had not the tent, but there are many people who lived in tent
and they didn’t want to move out from the park to the center, so the government needs to
support them better than Jiritsu shien center. Then the apartment is offered for the tent
people. In apartment, the homeless is more private and don’t need to sleep with strange
people. This is the reason of this alternative program and then the government decides to
stop establishing the Jiritsu shien center. Therefore it still remains 5 centers.

However, having a serious critic with this program, in fact, the real objective of
the government to move homeless people from the park is just for a good view of park
more than the sincerity to lift up their quality of life.

Reaction to the Apartment policy

The apartment policy reflects the variety of reaction from homeless support
organization, which maybe divided to 3 groups.


1. Agree and cooperate with government to process this program. They are
confident in that, the homeless can stay in this apartment for 2 years and can afford very
cheap rent (5% of market price). Therefore, two years is enough time for preparing
themselves for living without the government’s supporting in the next long term. This
group believes that homeless people can save some money and finally they can rent their
own apartment. In addition, life in apartment style is more privacy than the shelter style
and having a good residence will lift up their quality of life. So in their opinions, this
alternative program is the progressive process.

From August 2004 until now, this program is proceeding at Shinjuku Chuo koen
and Toyama Koen, around 70 % of the homeless was moved to apartment and just started
again at Sumidakawa Koen in February 2005, and next will be proceeded at Ueno koen
and Yoyoki koen within this year.

However, the critics with this project are the government overlooks the
employment system’s problem and the average age of the homeless is 55.9 years, from
these two reasons are very difficult for them to seek for the regular job and working in
long period.

Furthermore now some of them have an informal job such as collecting aluminum
can, so they can’t work the same job in apartment. And if they can’t do, they will be in
trouble more than living in a tent

2. Disagree with an apartment policy. Because this policy focuses on the housing
problem but the most important problem for the homeless is jobless problem. If they have
a regular job, they can find an accommodation by themselves. While the government can’t
provide the job guarantee, the government must not evict them from the park. The job is
provided only for 6 months, after that they will be in difficulties because the expense is
not only a rental fee, but also the electricity fee and water fee are very expensive too,
approximately at 10,000 yen per months. Moreover, after 2 years they must pay a rental
fee by themselves, if they can’t seek a regular job, it is very difficult to pay 50,000 yen per
month. At last, when they can’t do the payment, they must move out from the apartment
with nowhere to go, and finally, they must become homeless people on the street again


because of the prohibition to build a new tent. This policy is only an evicted measure
underneath the helping project.

Furthermore, the real objective of this policy is still the question why the
government sets priority to arrange with the tent community first. Although, there are
many groups of the homeless and some live on the street or at the railway station etc. we
can assume that these homeless who have no tent now get more in trouble. So the
government prefers to focus on tent community because the government would like to get
rid of the tent, which is judged by government and urban people are treated as dirty,
disgust and terrible ones.

Especially, it has the condition that person who move out from tent to apartment
must sign the contract that they will not return to tent any more. This condition reveals the
real objective of this policy, which need to move the tent more than to lift up the quality of
life of them. This policy is just a neat evicted measure hidden inside the helping project.

The demanding of this group is the government ought to provide the public job for
homeless people, but have no respond from the government in this issue.

3. Not quite agree with this policy but try to support persons who move into

This group does not quite agree but this program starts so quickly and some homeless
moved into apartment so they must follow to support them for success with apartment life.
This group differs from the first group because they are not motivated people to move in
apartment while they saw the positive side of this program, that is having a guarantee for
not eviction for 2 years. Thus, many organizations can use this condition to set the
network for support homeless people. However they criticize this policy does not concern
to the community life, the homeless are dispersed to 23 wards in Tokyo, and lonely in their
room. So the homeless support organizations should be set the network to help them.

As some of homeless moved from the park to apartment, the government

announced to the public these policy succeeded because the park was cleaner and the
homeless having a better life. While some of them confirm to stay at their own place. Then


the social and all media maybe will agree with that measure because government wins in
the game of promotion and propaganda.

So, now the most urgent point is how to display the opposite opinions
(disagreement with that policy) to the public to clarify about the restriction of this policy
and other alternative.

And for the most requirement of homeless people, the government should accept in
their decision of moving or staying anywhere.


This paper aimed to convince readers to realize about the insecurity life of
homeless people living in the city. In a current of globalization, it may be a chance for
someone to make affluence from world capital market, from a cheap labor prize. However
for marginal man globalization mean an unpredictable world, high risk and it is difficult to
deal with.


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