Supporters of homeless held after clash with police

Two supporters of homeless people living at Shinjuku Station were arrested early April 29 on suspicion of battery and obstructing justice.

At the time, the two were protesting the expulsion of homeless people from the station’s underground concourse, police said. About 50 homeless people and their supporters had converged around a police box at the station’s west exit concourse before 7 a.m. in an attempt to stop security guards from “advising” the homeless to leave, police said. The guards were hired jointly by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and shops located near where the homeless people live.

After one supporter was arrested April 28 on a charge of battery, security was tightened April 29 by mobilizing about 40 policemen and riot squad members to protect the guards. “As the security guards urged the homeless people to leave their cardboard houses, a dozen protesters started hurling themselves shoulder-first at the assembled security guards and police officers,” police said.

Kazuaki Sakai, a sympathizer arrested but found not guilty last year of obstructing police efforts to evict the homeless from the concourse, claims neither the homeless nor their supporters did anything wrong. “We haven’t done anything violent. We were verbally protesting to the security guards and the police,” Sakai said.