The debate was heating up at the local civic hall, packed with residents and dozens of homeless people who live nearby.

"If this continues, we won't tolerate it any more," said an agitated, middle-aged day-laborer during a memorial gathering for Kunihiko Suzuki, who was fatally assaulted by a gang of teenagers in Higashimurayama, a suburban city west of Tokyo, in January.

In response to the killing, the municipal board of education earlier this month announced a series of "life education initiatives" for students.