Japan is often called as a rich country, but actually there are many homeless people. According to a survey which was carried on by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the number of them is 6,235 in 2016.
But it’s not real number. It’s too difficult to count the true number because there are not only people living outside but also people living in internet cafe, karaoke box or something like that.
The second largest city in Japan, Osaka has one of the biggest homeless community, which is called in Airin district. A lot of homeless people gather to this area to get their one-day-job everyday.
The leader of the NPO “Homedoor” Ms.Kawaguchi established this organization in 2011. At that time she was just an university student.
When she was 14 years old, she visited this area and joined supplying food because she was very curious why there are a lot of homeless people in this “rich country”. And at the same time, an incident happened.
High school students attacked homeless people. They’re so crazy that they declared that they are CLEANER to remove homeless people who are like garbage.
Some of them were killed. After the terrible experience, she had much time with homeless people and recognized that they are not lazy, they are not like garbage, they are just ordinary people.
Because of the deep misunderstandings and prejudice, she was so sad that she decided to make an action to reduce the number of homeless people. At first, she delivered lectures to tell the truth.
And then she tried to create their job, which is a shear cycle system called HUB chari. This worked not only the homeless problem but also the illegal parking of bicycle.
※Chari is casual expression of bicycle in Japanese. Most homeless people don’t want to be homeless. They have some reason to have dropped out.
The NPO have worked for 5 years so far, and been trying to create employments until now. As a result, some of them got their own job and live in normal house.
It’s just a few successful cases. Ms.Kawaguchi is thinking about the next stage.
It is to increase such people, and to make place to live and feel it their home. But actually this area(Airin district) is changing now. Most Japanese people thought it was like slam area.
That’s why it’s cheap area to live, to stay. So it’s very useful area for travelers.
Japan is one of the safest country in the world, so it’s not so dangerous for foreigners, they can recognise this area is just a cheep area. The number of hostels and guesthouses increased gradually.
One reason of the change is the activities, the existence of the NPO. Thanks to HOMEDOOR, a lot of homeless people don’t have home yet but they have their own HOPE, which produces their confidence to live in Japan.
–Written by Hirokazu Tanaka
(Hirokazu Tanaka from Osaka, Japan quit his job as a producer with Osaka’s leading FM radio station, FM802 only to move on in an adventurous endeavor in search for something different and exciting and since then, he has never stopped)