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Japan's one of the wealthiest countries in the world
so one might ask how it's even possible
That some of its citizens sleep on the streets
In Japan you'll find the homeless in all sorts of places
They're on the riverbanks or no one much bothers them
At night in the stairwells of train stations
when most have returned back to their homes
On the streets with scores of people passing them by
In public parks
and in little communities with makeshift wood frames and tarps
In most instances the homeless reside at the edges
out of the way of the daily commuter
So many Japanese citizens may not even realize
that there are even more than a few homeless people amongst them
According to government figures the homeless living on the streets
only make up one out of every twenty thousand citizens or so
Independent researchers say the real rate is two and a half times higher,
but even at that
It's a small enough percentage that it can be mostly hidden from view
but perhaps what's even more hidden from view
is how and where those who have gotten off the streets are living?
There's a range of places
from emergency shelters to independent support centers
to public housing
to cheap no-questions-asked accommodations
and dorm like rooms set up by poverty businesses
in this video will explore all these places
and how a once homeless person might find themselves in any one of them
let's first talk about emergency shelters and self-reliance support centers
basically the idea is the emergency shelters take people straight off the street
They give you a bath a shower a shave
Send you to the doctor if you have some medical
Problems give you three meals a day and a bed
Usually got a maximum length of stay of two months in many cases the idea is
when you finish that the emergency shelter you move on to the
self-reliance Support Center, and these places have a longer length of stay
I mentioned four months in Tokyo in Yokohama and Osaka
It's six months and here they do try to help you get back into mainstream society
they will
Put you on training courses. They will also do things like
help you write your resume lend you a certain time to go to job interviews and
They have well at least in the case of the one in Yokohama
they have people from the local employment exchange you come and visit and
We'll help you look for jobs, so they do try quite hard there.
Now, I'm talking more about Tokyo there are quite big variations between cities
They also give you a certain amount of money to
Help you to rent an apartment
Buy some furniture for it and that kind of thing they don't
give you the money in Yokohama or Osaka, but instead they've got this longer length of stay six months and
Ideally you'll find yourself a job after one or two months
And then you can commute
From the shelter to the job, so you you're not paying any rent
you're still staying for free and getting your meals for free at the shelter, and you're earning money and
The shelter will look after your money because some people have a problem with poor control of their money
but they'll look after it give you a small amount for pocket money each day and
Once your savings have reached a certain point then it may be possible for you to
rent an apartment
It turns out that renting an apartment can be an expensive task one of the big kind of
institutional problems with getting out of homelessness in Japan is the high cost of
Getting into an apartment
Actually nowadays rents themselves are not that high compared with other
industrialized countries for example in Yokohama
you can probably rent a
small modest one-room apartment
With a sort of little unit bathroom and a least a couple of gas rings to to cook on for about
40 or 50 thousand yen
400 or
So that's not too bad, but what can be a problem is before you move into the apartment you typically have to pay
two months worth of rent
To the landlord as a deposit and in some parts of Japan. That's three months
another two months worth of rent as a
non-returnable gift to the landlord and
Another month's rent
To the real estate agent that found the property for you plus the first month's rent upfront
So that's actually can be half a year's rent or more before you even walk through the door, so
one of the things that the shelters do is they try and let you stay there long enough and and
Hopefully get a job and save money for long enough to cross this big a hurdle that
Exists before you can resume
Independent living now. Let's take a tour of a Doya aka a flophouse
So it can be hard for a homeless person to transition into a proper apartment due to the upfront costs required
That's where Doyle's come in as the professor explained in a previous video
There are kind of flophouse keep in mind that this is the Japanese version of a flophouse
Which means while they may not be big or fancy? They can still be organized and tidy a resident was kind enough to give us
Decibel for 3ds
Why are you just aah accessing
Your diamond to call hi
Honey hi Remus
Now let's talk about public housing they're fairly easy to spot once you know what you're looking for
The telltale signs are large concrete apartment blocks with numbers on them because they usually come in multiples I asked the professor
Why go for private apartments are accommodations like doors when there's half-decent public housing located around the city?
well, there's a shortage of public housing in Japan it does exist and
It's rationed
There are lotteries you know people get on waiting lists and the top priority is
Single women with children
Single men with no children are very low down the list of priorities. It's difficult for them to
Get on to public housing if you do get on to public housing then the rent is nice and low and the rent is
Calibrated according to your income so the the lower your income is the lower the rent will be in your public housing so
It's it's basically a fair
Well intentioned kind of system, but there's just not enough of it
Yeah, I see that same situation over in Canada, but then the professor started talking about poverty businesses
And I can't say that I've ever heard about these back in my home country
another major player in
Homelessness and poverty problems in Japan is a group of nonprofit organizations
Which are often referred to as poverty businesses and King Kong business and
What they will do is they'll find a homeless person
they will invite that homeless person to come and stay at a
Shelter a private shelter that they have created
themselves and then once the homeless person is in there they they will
Provide lawyers and help that homeless person apply for livelihood protection
So the same homeless person applying for welfare on his own. He may
Appeal to the prejudices of the
Caseworkers and he may get turned away from for various reasons, but that same guy
Having had a wash a shave and had a clean suit of clothes put on him and with a lawyer sitting next to him is
Much much more likely to get his application approved
So that's what they do and up to that point you
Could say they're doing a good job the problem. Is that once the livelihood protection is approved
NPO will then take eighty
Ninety percent of the money that comes in from the welfare
payments in the form of rent for the room and
payment for the often very basic meals that they provide and
It can be a very good business
for example
What they'll sometimes do is buy or?
rent a
Company dormitory and empty company dormitory. You know there are plenty of them around and
So you buy it for a relatively low price, and you take a a unit
Let's say it's a
dk2 rooms with a dining kitchen space
And the two rooms they'll divide up
They'll put up a
flimsy plywood partition wall in it
So that in each of those rooms two people can stay so this two room apartment
But can now house for homeless people and the the cost to the NPO
60,000 yen a month
And they'll be getting like eighty thousand yen a month each of four guys that they're keeping there, so
You know you can see how the maths works. You can make a lot of money that way and so these
businesses the these NPOs
Are in a kind of gray?
of the law and
They they exploit formerly homeless people, but at the same time
They are responsible for getting thousands and thousands of homeless people off the street, so they are another factor in these
street homeless populations where you'll find many homeless and formerly homeless is in Doig I
Aka Skid Row so the term Skid Row comes from Seattle and are originally referred to help people with skid or drag logs?
Through the city's historic Pioneer Square, this was a rough-and-tumble part of town
And thus the term Skid Row came to define an impoverished area typically urban whose inhabitants are people on the skids this
Specifically refers to the poor the homeless or others either considered disruptive or forgotten by society
Tokyo has its own skid row called Sanya the nature of this area is that it's geared towards transient people as
You'll see a lot of coin laundry and lockers it also has services to help the poor whether it be nonprofit organizations health clinics
day-laborer facilities arduous aka flop houses
Similar to touring the flophouse what surprised me about visiting the Doig Eye is that if you didn't really stop and look around
closely you might not even be able to tell you are in it a
Different Skid Row area in Yokohama called Kotobuki Cho has a bit of street
Level activity so you might see someone pushed on a wheelchair are a couple of guys drinking some one cup sake but otherwise looks fairly
normal the biggest giveaway
I could say is that you'll see a lot of bicycle parking on the streets organized parking of course
But a type of parking of not really seen in other areas
I've been through while there are government and NPO efforts to get the homeless off the streets and into housing
However temporary are unglamorous they maybe the fact is that there are still individuals living outdoors. I asked the professor
What the situation on the ground is like the homeless?
Self-reliant support law that I mentioned which was passed in 2002
Article 14 which
empowers the people in charge of running public parks to remove
Homeless people's dwellings from them. That's another reason why that was a controversial law on the one hand it created these various
Facilities to support homeless people on the other hand it. Also had elements designed to get them out of
where they already were and
So we have seen
Moves to kind of gradually push homeless people out of parks and sometimes riverbanks as well
Occasionally it involved
compulsory evictions with large numbers of police that gets all over the TV and
newspapers of course so the Japanese authorities
Don't very often do that it's kind of a last resort
More likely what they'll do is try and entice homeless people away from
the park
By offering them a place in our shelter
Which which may in turn lead to
self-reliance Center, you know these two-tier system I mentioned which
Ideally will eventually get you back into mainstream society
but once but part of the deal is once you've
Once you've gone into the shelter
They will remove your tent or your Shack, and they will also take steps to stop you from going back there for example
putting up
scaffolding or
Road barriers around areas that people used to use to
Sleep in having security patrols go around to stop new people from setting up shacks and tents and in this way they've been
Gradually cleaning out the parks. There are the homeless people's human rights to consider, but on the other hand
Families want to use the parks mothers don't like it if there's a homeless tint
community next to the swings and slides where they and their children want to play and
so the authorities have to try and balance the conflicting interests of different members of
society if you take a look at
Park benches are Japan you'll often find that
they now have more arm rests and
Okay, it's nice to have an armless on your park bench
But it also makes it impossible to sleep on that park bench
also encountered other barriers such as this automatic floor that prevents people sleeping at the bottom of the stairs and
This chirping sound most likely designed, so you wouldn't be able to get a good night's rest
Left-wing activists get very angry about that kind of thing and
You know it it. Isn't it isn't a nice thing to do
When critiquing this kind of praxis you also have to ask well what's being offered instead and
What's being offered instead is not just completely abandoning the homeless person but
Providing this this system of shelters that I've been talking about
that said
These shelters do have a length of stay
Attached to them, and so it's not it
It's not unknown for a guy to be sort of taken away from where he was sleeping
in a railway station
In a park or what we're ever put into one shelter moved to another shelter
time runs out and
Suddenly he's homeless again only in the meantime his tent or Shack has been demolished or
confiscated and
You know barriers have been put up to stop him from going back to his old place so for some homeless people that
Has had a very negative
outcome so
I'd like to put that in the balance
alongside my
broadly positive remarks about
How the Japanese state has dealt with homelessness over the last?
twenty years or so
It's a mosaic
Some good things some bad things but
overall I do think things are
Moving in a good direction in Japan so there's a push and pull with the system with the Japanese government
Wanting its residents to act and be a certain way and its residents with their own
Individual situations that don't always fall neatly within the lines
After all my research
which is nothing compared to those I've talked to I've come to see the issue not really a
Logistical one there are enough homes around the country
But more of one of people that don't fit into the typical Japanese society
And how society itself is responding to try and find them a place as?
Always, thanks for watching and I'll catch you all in the next one


Housing Japan's Homeless (Part 3)

林宜悉 2020 年 3 月 21 日 に公開
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