Homeless in Manga Heaven

topManga and Internet cafes are common throughout Japan. Due to their cheap costs, the privacy of their cubicles, the ability to order food, access to the internet, video games and more, manga and internet cafes have become more than just a hangout place for young people with nothing else to do.

According to a recent news report in Japan, manga cafes are becoming a place of refuge for the poor who can't afford to live in their own home or a hotel. According to an article from Japan Times:

Experts say the customers, dubbed "Net cafe refugees," are becoming more visible in the 24-hour facilities in tandem with the rise in the number of "working poor," those who have jobs but cannot escape poverty.

From a Japanese blog comes a summary of a news report on the condition of the working poor. The report takes a look at the current condition of the day laborers who spend their nights in manga cafes, and provides interviews with these workers, as well as manga cafe owners:

"The mobile workers" - those who go from place to place based on orders delivered to them by their cell-phones.

imgRecently a class of young poor people who live in manga cafes and cheap hotels is becoming increasing common in Japan. Most of these day laborers are registered employees of outplacement service companies. These young workers would go anywhere their job requires them to. While their actual life is the same as a daily worker from the last decades, they live their lives in loneliness without any companionship. I (the newspaper reporter) will report the actual daily life of these employment workers.

It's 11 pm in Ohta Ward, Kamata (An industrial district in Tokyo). Several people in suits, a couple and a business man, are entering a manga cafe. A construction worker (38 years old) says: "I can't sleep comfortably here, but it's cheap." He has been working at the construction site for over a year.

The construction worker's wages per day is around 10,000 yen, but his net income is around 7,000 yen excluding tax and other costs. His work isn't guaranteed every day, so he can't afford to stay even in a capsule hotel. He sometimes sleeps in the outdoors during summer.

Around Kamata, the price for staying in manga cafes is especially cheap - 880 to 990 yen for one night with free internet facilities, TV, and free soft drinks. According to the manager of a popular manga cafe says, about 60% of their frequent customers are in their 20's.

A worker (28 years old) who came from Tokyo lived in a manga cafe for three years. Now he can afford cheap hotels usually geared toward foreigners. The worker complained: "I can live here only because I 'm still young." Under such circumstances, a different kind of hotel business appeared. An outplacement working service company started a hotel business with the slogan: "A shelter for part-time jobbers." The new hotel offers rooms to be shared by about a dozen people for 1,700 yen per night. Most of the rooms are previously business buildings, located around construction sites.

A 25 years old man who became a construction worker after graduating from middle school spends his days going back and forth between the construction site and the manga cafes. Later he moved into a shared room. "A dozen men were in a room. There were troubles among them." He left there in March.

"Young part-timers are living like daily workers from the old days," Insisted Shuichoro Sekine, General Secretary of the "dispatch workers union." "Now they are getting jobs trough their cell-phones, so they can't settle down, and won't be able to get to know their co-workers. The communities are already offering help for the homeless people who are living on the streets."

Sekine alerts that "the number of lonely young workers who live on the streets is increasing; Japan's society is going in the wrong direction."

The increase in poor workers is one of the pressing issues Japan is facing today. What does the future hold for these people, who find themselves homeless in the land of manga?

Translator's Note

In Japan, outplacement working services admitted a few years ago that they're providing cheap labor force as part of the government's plan to hold out the competitive economical power from China. As a result, the wages of regular workers have been significantly reduced, thus increasing the number of poor people in Japan.

Nowadays, angry, poor Japanese workers are protesting the Abe administration on bulletin boards from manga cafes in the middle of the night instead of protesting on the streets. As a result, the cabinet's approval rating dropped from 67% to 38% over the past six months.

- Onax (Translated by T. Ohara)
- The Japan Times
- Japanator

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poor wokers

"working poor" a big issue being discussed in France by politicians who run for presidency. We have 7 millions poor workers in France among 25/27 million workers... Sad to see Japan in the same situation...

US poor workers, too

Shoot, it's happening everywhere, Loup.
What with the Mexican influx and Middle Eastern labor exodus hereabouts...
I wonder if there's anything on a global trend?

what a load

Where the hell do YOU live. The only poor "Workers" in the US are the mexican workers you speak of. Unless you're talking about the min-wage jobs that mostly students and lazy/stupid people take on?

With no college, I EASILY got jobs paying atleast 8 bucks an hour. That's with EFFORT.

Don't give me that load of "Illegals are taking my cotton-picking job!"

I lived in the U.S.A. for 3

I lived in the U.S.A. for 3 years and travelled around alot. During that that I saw many run-down cities who earlier had been dependant on factories with extremely many poor people and jobless people. Noone could run stores cause there werent enough people who would buy their wares and K-mart had all the cheaper prices.

Anyway Im back in my home coutnry which I've always liked best. Sweden. Here the percentage of homeless and poor workers is extremely low. In Sweden the standards for the working and middle-class are among the best (if not the best) in the world, the welfare is spread among all of the people so almost noone has to live under poor conditions. This is mainly because of the Social Democratic party who have had the power the majority of the last 60 years. Maybe thats a sign that capitalism and the right wing ain't so great after all? Its time to cast aside the communist-ghost and become more left-winged people!

Same thing over here

I always thought Japan to have a booming economy and things like this a thing of the past over there. But I guess I was wrong. Still, I have a friend here in Toronto that goes in and out of drug rehab just because he really has a poorly paid job. Ok, he's also an addict, but sad enough the whole thing works for him.

The Japanese first appear in

The Japanese first appear in written history in China???s Book of Han. According to the Chinese Records of Three Kingdoms, the most powerful kingdom on the archipelago during the third century was called Yamataikoku.