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  • This. This is the image that has been stuck in my mind for years.

  • Here I was below the massive towers of the Tokyo metropolitan government building and I came across this blue tarp with solar panels on it.

  • This was quite a scene for me.

  • That's because back in Vancouver, where I lived most of my adult life, I was used to seeing scenes like this.

  • Why were the visible homeless I encountered in Tokyo so different?

  • Thus started my search into understanding why the homeless in Japan are different than the homeless in North America.

  • Where I started to find answers was in the research work of professor Tom Gill.

  • My name is Tom Gill, I'm from England.

  • But I've lived in Japan for about 25 years and I'm a professor of Social Anthropology

  • here at Meiji Gakuin University, Yokohama Campus.

  • There are a number of things about Japanese society

  • which makes it a lot easier to deal with homelessness than in other industrialized countries.

  • For a start,

  • the level of drug abuse is much lower in Japan

  • than a lot of other countries. It's pretty difficult to get hold of hard drugs in Japan unless you know a Yakuza,

  • a gangster who will supply you.

  • And for the most part guys who become homeless in Japan

  • don't do drugs other than tobacco and alcohol.

  • Yes, there are a substantial number of

  • alcoholics in the Japanese homeless population.

  • There are also a considerable number of

  • compulsive gamblers and of course, even if you are getting Livelihood Protection Money,

  • if you spend it all on alcohol or horse racing in the first couple of days of the month,

  • you can still end up on the street.

  • Another important factor is that Japan has a very conservative approach

  • To treatment of mentally ill people,

  • who are generally institutionalized.

  • If you look at statistics for mental health in Japan,

  • you are much more likely to be put away in an institution

  • if you have a mental health problem.

  • We never went through the processes

  • that were called "mainstreaming" in America

  • and "care in the community" in Britain

  • which are both kind of code words for shutting down mental Hospitals and

  • Letting mentally ill people out into society and

  • Which might have seemed like a good idea and something-

  • some liberal people did support that move but unfortunately

  • there wasn't the backup to follow what happened to these people after they were let out

  • and a certain number of them ended up being on the streets,

  • and that's one of the reasons why you have a lot of people with mental health issues

  • in the homeless population in many Industrialized countries.

  • Then a third factor is that Japan has managed to

  • keep out of wars and conflicts since the end of World War II.

  • So as a result, traumatized war veterans, which are another large component

  • particularly of the American homeless population-

  • we don't have that in Japan either.

  • Where are homeless people?

  • Urban parks,

  • riverbanks,

  • streets,

  • station buildings,

  • and other buildings.

  • So the kind of archetypal situation

  • where you're walking along the street and you encounter a homeless person is

  • a lot less likely to happen in Japan because a lot of them are not in that part of the urban space.

  • Most of them do try to keep clean. One of the reasons why they tend to gather in parks is because they

  • generally have public toilets and washrooms there which helps you to maintain a basic level of hygiene.

  • On the question of begging:

  • it's true that very few homeless people in Japan beg.

  • Far more likely, as a way of making a bit of money, is can recycling,

  • and sometimes newspaper and magazine recycling,

  • but that's the main way for putting together a little bit of cash.

  • Why they don't beg? I think there are push factors and pull factors.

  • Japanese are disinclined to beg.

  • They're also disinclined to give to beggars, and these two things go hand in hand.

  • In countries with a strong Christian tradition, or indeed a strong Muslim, or Hindu tradition,

  • giving to the Poor is deeply ingrained in the religion and the culture.

  • There's nothing quite like that in in Japan so

  • People are less likely to give money to beggars.

  • I mean, they're not used to being begged off. It's a "chicken-and-egg" situation, really.

  • The fact that

  • you know, it's shameful to beg and

  • you don't want people to know that you're homeless

  • you don't want people to know that you're unable to look after yourself.

  • Pride, shame. Yeah, these are also factors

  • I'm sure you have many questions about homelessness in Japan and I did as well.

  • It's a very complex topic that touches on many parts of society.

  • As such, this is just a single video as part of a bigger series about homelessness in Japan that I'll be making,

  • so stay tuned for that.

  • I have to give special thanks to professor Tom Gill, who's so

  • knowledgeable and so generous with his time, so thank you for that!

  • And a shout out to my patreon supporters who make It possible for me to make videos like this;

  • videos that aren't necessarily so popular and videos that do take time to research,

  • so thank you for that and as always:

  • Thanks for Watching!

  • See you next time, Bye!

This. This is the image that has been stuck in my mind for years.

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B1 US homeless beg homelessness gill mental people

Why Japan's Homeless are Different from North America's (Part 1)

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    Kana kawai posted on 2018/05/08
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