Around 300 homeless people from Tokyo and Osaka marched to the Diet building Friday to press for quick passage of legislation aimed at easing the plight of an estimated 30,000 homeless people across the country.
Participants from the Shinjuku and Ikebukuro districts joined others from Osaka and support group members from Yokohama, Shizuoka, Nagoya and Kitakyushu in a march from the headquarters of the Social Democratic Party to the nearby Diet in Nagata-cho.
The demonstrators carried placards advocating the creation of “a society where nobody dies by the roadside.”
They also chanted, “Pass the legislation” and “Give us jobs.”
The domestic economic slump has swollen the homeless ranks across the nation, and ruling and opposition parties have been pressured to draw up a comprehensive policy to address the situation.
Last year, the Democratic Party of Japan submitted legislation to the Diet aimed at providing homeless people with housing and getting them back into the job market.
A special coalition task force drew up the ruling bloc’s own version of homeless-relief legislation last month. The proposed legislation calls on the national and local governments to help homeless people regain the ability to earn a living.
The legislation is expected to clear the Diet following negotiations between the ruling and opposition parties.
A 60-year-old homeless man from Ikebukuro said, “Everyone wants to work, but we cannot because of the economic slump.
“I appreciate the bill drawn up by the ruling coalition because it gets the government involved in the homeless problem.”
Support groups that organized the demonstration said they will step up their campaign to ensure early passage of the legislation.
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