People & Power
Down and out in Osaka
Investigating the problem of homelessness in Japan's second largest city.
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2009 10:37 GMT


Watch part two 

Japanese "Blues Karaoke", hip hop, improvised shelter villages in city parks, black market goods, cheap labour, begging and protest are all part of the homeless life in Osaka, Japan's second largest city. Osaka has the largest homeless population in Japan, a population that was soaring even before the economic crisis began.

In June, Osaka's homeless began rioting against police brutality and eviction plans.

The riots followed the arrest and alleged beating of an activist from the Kamagasaki Patrol, a squatter and workers group.

The violence between the police and homeless rioters garnered little local or international media attention because the Japanese government was anxious not to disrupt the climate of the G8 summit, which was hosted by Japan in July.

Local people in Osaka are bitterly divided about what to do with their homeless population, many siding with the conservative mayor who is planning a major "clean up".

Filmmaker Lisa Cazzato spent time with homeless people on the streets as they struggle to re-build their lives, resist being removed from the city and find alternative forms of living from street karaoke to building parks.

People & Power is joined in the studio by Costas Lapavitsas, a professor of economics at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, to discuss further the effects of the financial crisis on the Japanese economy.

This episode of People & Power aired from December 2, 2008.

Al Jazeera
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