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3 Aug 2021

Takaaki Fujino and Takashi Endo, Asahi Shimbun

Japan: Tokyo evicts hundreds of homeless people for Olympics Games

"Homeless people told they have no place in Tokyo Olympics" 22 July 2021

Hundreds of people in central Tokyo have been given eviction notices even though they have no permanent addresses and nowhere to go.

Metropolitan government officials have entered the final phase of clearing the area of homeless people before the Opening Ceremony for the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 23.

A 62-year-old man who has lived on the streets for a month near the Tokyo metropolitan government’s building in Shinjuku Ward said an apparent government official approached him on July 8 to deliver a note.

“Remove (your belongings) by July 21 because they are creating obstacles for road management,” the note said. [...]

Blue tarps and cardboard houses in the area surrounding the metropolitan government’s building are ubiquitous reminders that many people have been left out of the wealth in the bustling capital. [...]

Signs have now appeared ordering them to remove their belongings (and themselves) from the area by July 21.

A homeless man in his 30s who applied for public assistance earlier this month found a place to stay.

A local official made arrangements for the man to stay at a business hotel in case of an emergency.

But one condition was attached: He must check out on July 22.

The hotel was securing rooms for the Olympics and would not let him stay any longer, he was told.

However, he received a “reprieve” after the Games’ organizers decided to ban spectators at the Olympics. [...]

According to Tsukuroi Tokyo Fund, a Tokyo-based support group, authorities have taken tougher approaches against homeless people since 2013, when Tokyo was named the host city of 2020 Olympic Games. [...]

There were 1,126 homeless people living in parks, on river sides and at station buildings in Tokyo in January 2019, according to a metropolitan government survey. The number was 862 according to a survey conducted in January this year. The whereabouts of the 264 people no longer on the list are unknown.