300 homeless people flock to Tokyo a�?tent villagea��

TOKYO: Some 300 homeless people, most of whom have lost their jobs due to recession, flocked to a a�?tent villagea�� temporarily set up by volunteers in Tokyo as a shelter for New Year holidays, organisers said yesterday.

The village opened in Hibiya Park, near the Imperial Palace, government offices and luxury hotels, on New Yeara��s eve to provide free food and shelter for the homeless.

Japanese companies have cut tens of thousands of jobs, mostly temporary contract workers, as demand for cars, cameras and other products wanes amid the global financial crisis.

Organisers visited the welfare ministry Friday morning to deliver a letter requesting access to unoccupied offices and schools as some 50 tents, each with a capacity of up to five people, are already full.

a�?In the worst case, there may be cold death,a�? village head Makoto Yuasa told reporters.

a�?We are trying to do what we can in a non-government capacity, but there is a limit.a�?

Lawyers here are volunteering their time to help people wrongfully sacked or forced to leave factory dormitories. The camp will close on Monday morning.

The labour ministry said some 85,000 temporary workers have already lost their jobs or know they will be laid off by March a�� a figure that has nearly tripled in a month.A� a�� AFP


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