Goodbye Work

August 29th, 2009 by Philip Brasor & Masako Tsubuku

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Help wanted ads in a newspaper flyer.

A “white paper” recently released by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry reports that a survey it conducted of Hello Work outlets (i.e., government-run employment offices) found that approximately 229,000 non-regular workers have lost their jobs since last October. The report looked at 125,000 of these cases more closely and saw that 3,400 people also lost their housing as a direct result of their sudden unemployment, which we assume means that they were kicked out of their residences because those residences were provided by their employers. The report went on to say that these people did not have any money saved, and so we can make the further assumption that these people are homeless at the moment — unless they have family or friends who will put them up.

It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that it’s very difficult to find work when you don’t have a place to live. But the main catch-22 in this story is that it’s impossible to apply for welfare without a permanent address; which means there’s no safety net for the unemployed/homeless until they secure work — if they ever do.

Yesterday, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry announced that the jobless rate is the highest it’s been since they’ve been keeping records, and an unscientific, visual survey of the banks of the Sumida River near our apartment indicates an increase in the number of “blue shacks” erected there since the start of summer.

Those people have already given up.

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