[Hpn] FW;-HK-Homeless-(Feature) FEATURE: Japanese, Korean homeless show
Thu, 14 Jun 2001 08:14:29 +0900
Dear my friends;
The Homeless people's East Asia Exchange(EAE) had held.
Korean & japanese homeless people visited and exchanged Hongkong's homeless
people. In July4-9,we will invite HongKong's & Korean homeless people(our
friends!) to KYOTO,KOBE,OSAKA. EAE's 25people will see and hear NAGAI-PARK
in HigashiSUMIYOSHI area and OUGIMATI-PARK in KITA area. We will exchage EAE
people. following is a Kyodo News release.
(@Libertaire-JILL aus Osaka)
-HK-Homeless-(Feature) FEATURE: Japanese, Korean homeless show
solidarity with H.K.+
By Agnes Cheung
HONG KONG, June 8 Kyodo -
Li Chi-ming never thought he would become a street-sleeper.
But three weeks ago the 41-year-old waiter was forced to live outside
the Cultural Center in Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the most popular tourist
spots in Hong Kong, because he could no longer afford to pay rent after
the restaurant he worked for closed down.
''It is not a good experience to live on the streets. I never thought I
would end up like this,'' Li told Kyodo News.
''Every day I just wander around and then go back there (the Cultural
Center) for a sleep at night. Fellow street-sleepers usually come back
very late. We seldom talk to each other.''
The newcomer to Hong Kong's 1,260 homeless may be unable to improve his
situation soon, but he was somewhat cheered up by a group of Japanese
and South Korean homeless who visited the territory for the first time
on an exchange tour this week.
Japan's Manabu Endo, 55, Takashi Nishino, 53, and Yuji Yamauchi, 50, as
well as Choi Yong Jin, 39, from South Korea were in the city for five
days to find out how life on Hong Kong streets differs from that in
their own countries and to show solidarity with the territory's
The four were sponsored by the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights, a
lobby group based in Bangkok, under an exchange program of the East
Asian Street-Sleepers Campaign.
Coalition spokesman Maurice Leonhardt said living on the streets is a
''very alienating experience'' in East Asia and exchanges can help
''break the isolation of the urban poor.''
By learning from each other's experience, homeless people understand
their situations better and may come up with solutions to their own
problems, Leonhardt said.
The situations in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea are considered
similar because the number of street-sleepers has increased since the
Asian economy went downhill in the late 1990s, with more new
down-and-outs coming from ever younger age groups.
Government statistics in Hong Kong showed that 73% of street-sleepers
had formal education and 59% were aged between 20 and 49, up from last
year's 39% in the same age group.
During their stay in Hong Kong, the Japanese and Korean visitors shared
their street experiences and survival tips with local street-sleepers,
ranging from where to scramble for cartons and how to build
Japanese-style cardboard houses to how to face up to social contempt.
The four had accommodation in ''cubicles'' -- a 32-square-foot (3.5
square meter) room for four people -- catering for the local poor.
Compared with Japan, Endo praised Hong Kong for providing toilet
facilities with showers for free that can be used by street-sleepers.
''There is absolutely no such thing in Japan,'' said Endo, who began his
street life six months ago after the real estate company he worked for
went bankrupt and he separated from his wife and their three children.
At present, he takes refuge in a park in Tokyo's Shibuya district where
some other 60 street-sleepers also camp.
Japan is estimated to have about 30,000 street-sleepers, with 8,000 of
them in Tokyo alone. The homeless population in South Korea, meanwhile,
is estimated at 5,000, and a majority live in shelters provided by the
government or by volunteer agencies.
''I felt ashamed to become a street-sleeper, but after knowing the
plight of fellow homeless people in Hong Kong and South Korea I will be
courageous and live on despite that I am jobless,'' Endo said.
But to Yamauchi, who has lived on Osaka streets for years, Hong Kong
counterparts tend to blame themselves too much for becoming jobless and
''In Japan, we similarly don't feel very good to be street-sleepers, but
we don't think that it's our fault. Our situation is due to the mistakes
and failures of the government's economic policies. Therefore, we should
protest and fight for our rights,'' Yamauchi said.
Choi, a day laborer in Seoul, said street-sleepers in South Korea
receive more help in food and shelter from the government and religious
groups than their Hong Kong and Japanese counterparts.
Also, Hong Kong street-sleepers tend to be loners while those in Seoul
usually help each other in supportive groups, said Choi, who lived in
the streets for three months in 1999.
Echoing Choi, Endo called on Hong Kong homeless people to unite so they
will not be bullied by street kids, as some street-sleepers complained
Despite the encouragement and experience-sharing from their Japanese and
Korean fellows, Li is not optimistic because the Hong Kong settings
remain unchanged and he has to face his ordeal alone.
''Yes, we can learn from the experiences in Japan and South Korea, but
after all, Hong Kong is different and it is difficult to get the
street-sleepers together. Our top priority is to find a job. After
securing a job, we will be able to afford a home. And then, we may help
others to get a job,'' Li said.
What he can do in the meantime, Li added, is to endure the life on the
street outside the Cultural Center with a firm belief there is always a