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End of Labor Town: Dumping Ground of Old Men in Japan

shiho fukada | Japan

People wait in line to receive a charity meal. January 20, 2009, Osaka, Japan.

Once a thriving day laborer’s town in Osaka, Kamagasaki today is home to about 25,000 mainly elderly day laborers, with an estimated 1,300 who are homeless. It used to be called a “laborers town” but now it’s called a “welfare town”, a dumping ground of old men. Alcoholism, poverty, street death, suicide, TB and most of all, loneliness, prevail here. They don’t have family ties and live and die alone as social outcasts from the mainstream “salary man” culture. Labor towns, like Kamagasaki, are on the verge of extinction in Japan. According to the most recent government report, Japan's economy, the world’s second largest, is deteriorating at its worst pace since the oil crisis of the 1970s, setting off more unemployment among young and educated and layoffs among big corporations. It is even more hopeless for graying men of the construction industry here to find work.


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