Japanese homeless PROTEST (fwd)

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Mon, 8 Dec 1997 13:31:15 -0800 (PST)

FWD from INOKEN <inoken@jca.ax.apc.org>

INOKEN and homeless people in SHIBUYA and HARAJUKU
      telephone  03(Tokyo)-5273-5065
Committee for Struggle against Unemployment of Day Laborers

                   STATEMENT OF PROTEST  Nov. 27, 1997

On Saturday night, Nov. 22 SHIBUYA station with the crowd of a
weekend was suddenly surrounded by an abnormal atmosphere because the
area was conquered by almost 150 of officers of SHIBUYA ward office,
staffs of EIDAN subway (the Teito Rapid Transit Authority), the guards and
policemen.  This imposingness was only to stop the distribution of the
meal and meeting of the homeless people.

Since the bubble economy was over, Japan has been depressed, so the
number of homeless people who are obliged to sleep on the streets, in
the stations and the parks is more and more increasing, and reaches
at least 3700 (by Tokyo Metropolitan Government).  The policy by
administration has been always  "eviction" and "dismissal" not a
drastic measure like welfare, job or housing, and the attitude has
been stimulating prejudice and discrimination by citizens, typically
in the case of attack homeless people by youngsters.

Forced eviction in SHINJUKU west exit passages on the 24th Jan. last
year by Tokyo Metropolitan Government was far from the solution of the
problem, and only urged the worsening of homeless people's
environment and repulsion of the Japanese and foreign country's
people.  This measure taken by Tokyo Governor AOSHIMA who dared to say
"Those homeless people have a unique philosophy.  They like to live
like that." was condemned by Tokyo local court this spring.  The
judicial decision declared that homeless people's resistance was
right and there was a grave defect in the procedure.  Tokyo
Metropolitan, driven to the wall,  at last recognized homeless
people's organization (SHINJUKU RENRAKUKAI) as a partner of
negotiation and began the supporting program,  promising that
they wouldn't evict homeless people and wouldn't send them to
construction camps which are like a prison.

Here in SHIBUYA (what is called "young people's town" in Tokyo),
homeless people are also surely increasing.  There are 100
people around the station and this is an increase of 30-40
people.  Seeing this, staffs of the subway and the guards
are strengthening the eviction underground since these two
years, and homeless people can't even sit down.  And more, for
example in MIYASHITA park, officers of the construction
section of SHIBUYA ward office are continuing to evict them,
so there are no more space for homeless people to sleep or
take rest.  The welfare office doesn't apply the livelihood
protection program (L.P.P.), though L.P.P. is an undoubted
right for homeless people.  SHIBUYA Police consider homeless
people the peace-breaker, confirming their identity, taking
their pictures, eventually violating their human rights.  In
this spring, it wouldn't deal with the attacks to homeless
people by young which occurred often at this spring.

Administration has been letting homeless people die on the
roads before its very eyes without extending a rescuing hand,
though we made a proposal a lot of times to build an
integral policy for them, and SHIBUYA ward office wouldn't
begin an effective step.  Now, homeless people say "We defend
our livelihood and lives by ourselves."  Eliminated by society
and administration, they support one another.  Nobody wants to
be homeless, and everybody is struggling to get rid of life
on the roads.  INOKEN (supporting group for homeless people)
has been acting aiming to make homeless people's unity, not
dividing homeless people and supporters as a receiving side
and a giving side.  Cooking, eating and meeting on Saturday
nights in MIYASHITA park is one of our activities.  And we
do various activities, such as application of L.P.P. on
Mondays, doctor's consultation etc..

Winter, the severest season for homeless people is
correctly coming this year, too.  Nothing can prevent homeless
people to move to a warmer place as they have the right to
live.  In the beginning of November, we changed the place of
distributing meals and meeting from MIYASHITA park to the
basement of SHIBUYA station because it was getting cold.  We
chose the area where the traffic was not dense.  (We cooked
in MIYASHITA park and carried the food to the basement.)
Until the second week, it seemed that an assistant station
master assented our request to use a corner of the basement
as a place of eating the supper and meeting from 7:00 p.m.
to 9:00p.m. every Saturday under the conditions that we never
bother the passers-by and clean the place though the staffs
and the guards tried to let us leave on the pretext of the
complaint by passers-by.  From these two time's experience and
the fact that we did the same thing in other area
underground last winter, the the Teito Rapid Transit Authority
can know there's no problem at all.  On the contrary, they
evicted us with a lot of policemen in an eccentric way.
Against our "tiny" activity, more than 50 of the staffs and
the guards checked the area and behind them, more than 30
policemen and almost 50 riot police were mobilized. (5
micro buses)  In MIYASHITA park where we were cooking, several
administratives of the construction section of SHIBUYA ward
office interfered under the excuse of our dealing the fire,
though we used a safe portable propane gas and also made
anti-fire provisions.  We finished cooking pushing our way
through their disturbance and tried to move to the
distribution area underground with a big cook-pot, but the
staffs of the Teito Rapid Transit Authority wouldn't let us
go down, even interfering passersby.  We protested fiercely
against them but they only repeated the words "This troubles
passers-by." and after that they became silent and never
explained more.

The intention of SHIBUYA police which keeps threatening us
is obvious, that is to provoke us framing up the injury,
arresting, not caring about human rights.  This intention is
represented by the word of the chief of defense.  "This is to
purify the surroundings."  What a discriminative word it is!
And this means a naked elimination, too.  They oppressed our
meeting which is the minimum guarantee for us to live.  They
try to force us to die this winter by breaking our unity.

We went back to MIYASHITA park not being provoked, and had
a meeting to the end.  A lot of passers-by also accused the
way of doing by police and the Teito Rapid Transit Authority.

We impeach them of attacking us like this just this time
when the winter is coming with wholehearted anger.  We shall
never let them evict us and begin the activities of
"struggle of living over the winter" with a big unity of
homeless people.