Survey: 5,400 without homes live in Net cafes
About 5,400 people with no place to call home live in Internet cafes, with those in their 20s making up the largest age group, a labor ministry survey showed Tuesday.
The nationwide survey, the government's first focusing on so-called Net cafe refugees, indicates that the situation for the working poor is worsening, especially among young people.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare surveyed managers and clerks of about 3,200 Internet cafes and manga kissa (comic book cafes) across the nation that operate around the clock.
The results showed that on a daily basis, about 60,900 people use such places as overnight shelters, and 7.8 percent of them, or about 4,700, stayed at the cafes because they had no homes.
The ministry defined Net cafe refugees as those with no fixed address who stay overnight at Internet cafes for more than half the week.
Based on the survey results, the ministry estimates that about 5,400 people can be categorized as Net cafe refugees.
Half of the Net cafe refugees, or about 2,700 people, were temporary staff workers, day laborers or held other "nonregular" jobs, the survey showed.
About 300 refugees were regular employees, and about 1,300 were unemployed.
Of the nonregular workers, about 600 were dispatched from staffing agencies for short-term jobs lasting for less than one month or for just one day. About 1,200 were directly hired as part-time workers or day laborers at construction sites.
About 26.5 percent of the Net cafe refugees were in their 20s, the largest age bracket, while those in their 50s accounted for 23.1 percent, and those in their 30s made up 19 percent.
The ministry also polled about 360 Net cafe refugees in Tokyo and Osaka.
Asked why they did not have a home, 32.6 percent in Tokyo and 17.1 percent in Osaka said they could not afford the rent because they had quit their jobs.
Some 20.1 percent of Net cafe refugees in Tokyo and 43.9 percent in Osaka said they had to leave company dormitories and other housing facilities provided by their employers when they quit.
The average monthly incomes were 107,000 yen in Tokyo and 83,000 yen in Osaka.
About 40 percent of those polled said they have lived on the streets in the past.
In Tokyo, many respondents said they slept at fast food restaurants and sauna facilities as well as Internet cafes.
Another ministry study targeting 10 staffing agencies that mainly dispatch workers for short-term jobs found that about 51,000 people are dispatched to day jobs every day.
On average, those dispatched worked 14 days a month and earned 133,000 yen.
Seventy percent of the workers surveyed were younger than 35 years old.
Still, 45.7 percent of the workers, the biggest group, said they felt fine with their current situation when asked what type of employment they wanted in the future.
But more than half of the male respondents between 25 and 34 years old said they wanted permanent employment.(IHT/Asahi: August 29,2007)