Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Homeless on rise in post-Lehman Japan



A year has passed since U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers was forced into bankruptcy, sending out shockwaves that brought the global financial market to its knees.

And just who did those waves batter the most?

Well, in Japan, poverty activists and NPOs have told me the real victims of the Lehman Shock are the laid-off factory workers who were forced out of company housing and onto the streets, creating a new breed of homeless.

In the year since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, companies have laid off more than 230,000 contract workers, helping to push Japan’s jobless rate to a post-war record 5.7 percent (macro economist Edward Hugh notes this figure is closer to 12 percent if we include Japan’s “hidden jobless”). With a growing jobless rate, it’s easy to assume homeless numbers are up too, but it’s even harder to prove.

That’s because official government numbers actually show a decrease in the number of homeless. But on the streets I have heard a very different story.