How to Be Homeless in Japan

How to Be Homeless in Japan

Our Human Planet (2018)

Film Review

This two-part documentary focuses on homelessness in the Japanese city of Osaka. When the Japanese economy collapsed in the 1990s, many older workers lost their jobs. Last year Osaka (pop 19 million)  had 18,000 homeless, mostly men. It’s easier for women who lose their jobs to return to live with family.

Part One (How to be Homeless in Japan) focuses on an 63-year-old man who makes a living collecting aluminum cans to sell at a recycling center. His work day starts before dawn, and he makes roughly $8 a day. In Osaka, one of the most expensive cities in the world, this earns him two meals of day old rice and fish, a cup of tea and a cup of sake. His spends his afternoons in the library reading.

Part Two (Japanese Homeless Fight Back) focuses on organizing efforts by Osaka’s homeless to protect themselves and better meet their needs. In addition to setting up an immaculate tent city on the grounds of a national monument, a number of them run a charity that uses expired supermarket food to provide two hot meals a week for all Osaka’s street people.

It also features a march Osaka’s homeless organized to protest the death of a homeless man kicked to death by unemployed youth.