Tent Village In Central Tokyo Draws Over 300 Homeless People

By Bernama,

Tokyo : A temporary tent village set up at a central Tokyo park has drawn more than 300 people without jobs or homes since it was set up on New Year’s eve by volunteers for the New Year holiday period, Kyodo news agency reported quoting organisers as saying.

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“People here are worn out due to the cold…an emergency shelter such as a gymnasium is necessary as soon as possible,” said a leader of the organisers, adding they had requested the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry to act swiftly.

After the request, the ministry decided to open an auditorium at its ministry building near the park until 9 a.m. Monday, given that the number of people who have no other places to stay reached around 270.

The Chuo Ward office is also thought to be preparing to set aside some places to accommodate some people.

The ”year-crossing temp worker village” was launched in Hibiya Park on Wednesday in front of the Imperial Hotel, one of the country’s most luxurious hotels, to provide free food and shelter for homeless people including laid-off temporary workers who have been forced to leave accommodation provided by their employers.

About 50 tents, each fit to accommodate four to five people, have been provided but the number of people hoping to get accommodation surged on Friday, with some having fallen ill and been rushed to hospital by ambulance, the organisers said, adding that they lack volunteer workers capable of providing healthcare.

A 47-year-old man who lost his job with a trucking company in Tokyo in November said, “I had been hopping from one friend’s home to another or to Internet cafes but I have almost reached the limit of my fatigue. I have even lost the energy to vent my anger at society.”

About 510 volunteers are working at the tent village, preparing food and providing advice on finding jobs and accommodation. The project drew around 130 on the first day. It is scheduled to run through Monday.

“I want to tackle the problem of the temp workers, sharing the feeling that a Japan in this condition is unacceptable,” Tsuyoshi Takagi, president of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, the 6.8 million-strong national umbrella organisation of labour unions, also known as Rengo, said after visiting the site on Friday afternoon.

An increasing number of companies in Japan are dismissing temporary workers and other non-regular employees as Japan has also failed to escape the adverse impact of the global recession.

A government estimate says more than 85,000 such workers will have lost their jobs between last October and March this year.