“Refugees” in Japan

by Narumi Ito

Nowadays, people who lose their homes are increasing in Japan because they might be laid off by their companies and cannot earn money. They have to sleep in fast food shops, family restaurants and Internet cafes. “Refugees” is increasing in Japan. According to Anne Allison, a refugee is someone who is homeless or a net café nanmin. It has become a serious problem in Japan. Most of them work as temporary laborers or day laborers. Their salaries are unstable thus they cannot rent their home. However, when they can sleep at net café, they will feel happy because they sometimes have to sleep outside, for instance, at stations or under bridges and on streets. They do not have enough money to spend indoor.

Refugees have two big problems. The first problem is a certificate of residence. If the situation of their addresses are unsettled, they do not have their houses, thus they may treated as drifters by Japanese law. Moreover they have many problems if they do not have their certificates of residence. They cannot renew their driver’s licenses, have universal suffrage or receive unemployment insurance. In addition, they cannot rent new apartments when they become to be able to rent them because they cannot register the legal registration of their official seals.

Second is an illness. They cannot go to hospital because they cannot pay their consultation fees, however, I think that they have much possibilities of becoming ill. They always spend at places which are insanitary. In fact, there are many people who contract tuberculosis or some infectious diseases at net cafes. Most refugees tend to use Internet café thus they may get mass infection.

The right to life is written clearly in the Constitution of Japan. It is that all Japanese people have right to make healthy and cultural life and have the minimum standard of living. I think that welfare is based on the Japanese constitution thus Japanese government should give refugees which include homeless and net cafe nanmin the minimum lives. However Japanese government cannot protect this right. In fact, Japanese government do not treat with the problem of refugees. Most refugees are deleted their certificates of residence. They can request their welfare if they do not register their resident registration. Thus they request Japanese office to be on welfare. Japanese public office do not give welfare to them because officers think it is troublesome.

For example, offers of welfare from refugees are deferred or rejected or hidden. Officers may be able to neglect offers because the homeless do not register their residences. I assume that officers conceal the offers many times in Japan. The actual situation may let the problem of refugees worsen in Japan.

In my opinion, if Japanese public offices continue to neglect this problem, Japan have to own many more refugees in the future. If the Japanese government gives them minimum welfare or food protection, they may be saved, improve their lives and get jobs. Japanese government should make some concrete policies to deal with this problem. All Japanese people are protected by the Constitution of Japan equally and live healthily and happily.

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