Japan: Support homeless against forced eviction by Osaka city government

2007-02-02 - oiwan

(caption: homeless tent in Osaka's public park by Elijah under CC)

The Osaka city government plans to evict squatters at Nagai Park (Feb 5) to prepare for the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Athletics. Earlier in Jan, the authories issued an order stating that if homeless did not leave by Jan 21 they would be forced to remove their tents.

The high court ruling on Jan 23, which overturned a lower court ruling that had allowed Yuji Yamauchi, who is homeless, to register Kita Ward's Ogimachi Park as his address, will further legitimzed the city's government's action.

Since early 1991, the number of homeless has been increasing. The homeless people start to build tents in public park and try to make a living by collecting papers, cans, bottles and other materials for recycling. They also grow vegetable, share meal in the park. Below is some background concerning Osaka homeless issue from Hpn:

Osaka city has the largest homeless population in Japan because it suffers from the high unemployment rate caused by a decline in economic foundations and because it has Kamagasaki, which is the largest day laborers' area in Japan. During the period of higher economic growth during the 1960s, the Osaka City government tried to gather as many labor force as possible in Kamagasaki, by recruiting laborers in public employment security offices around the nation. It utilized day laborers as the lowest foundation of the Japanese / Kansai economy and abandoned them when the recession broke out (the Corruption of the Bubble Economy in 1991). Osaka city, which had profited from day laborers for a long time before the recession, has a clear responsibility about current homeless people's situation.

However, in 2000, the Japanese government started to evict homeless. In December 2000, the Osaka city government, evicted 480 tents from Nagai Park on the pretext of building temporary shelters. Most of the homeless refused to move into the shelters because they did not have space to store their collected materials; once they entered the center, they had to find job within three months and leave. In spring 2001, the forced eviction intensified because the Osaka city plan to host 2008 Olympic (failed).

On 15th July 2002, back up by the plan "for Homeless people's shelter", Osaka Castle Park forcibly moved 700 homeless to the shelters. In December 2003, there was a forced removal of the ‘Karaoke village’ at Tennoji.

However, the homeless community continued to defend their rights and dignity. In July 2004, Nagai Homeless organized its first homeless festival. And BBC has a great photostream on the Osaka homeless community (photo and script from BBC):

"Staying warm is a big problem," said Mr Sato. "I could go in to a shelter, but I don't want to. If I go my tent will be cleared away.

"In the shelter I am supposed to find a job and leave after three months, but there are almost no jobs for old men."

Without considering the actual needs of the homeless, administrative proceedings against homeless continued to happen nationally from 2005. In Jan 24, 2005, Nagoya city evicted homeless people in Shirakawa park with 600 officers.

In Oct 4, 2005, the Osaka city issued written order to homeless people demand them to leave Utsubo and Osaka castle park until Nov 30, 2005. In Jan 2006, more than 750 city employees, guards and transport workers were sent to dismantle 28 tent homes in the two parks, under the excuse of "World Rose Convention" in May 2006.

The latest round of eviction in Osaka would happen in early Feb, 2007, under the pretext of hosting the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Athletics. Japan civil society has launched a signature campaign against the eviction. You can sign up and show your support here.

18 4月20:32

Someday this will

By coco

Someday this will happen
Submitted by bfire52 on Fri, 2009-04-17 23:14.

good article, well done, interesting.