• Kyodo News

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The ad hoc group that set up a tent village for laidoff temporary workers in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park over New Year’s will disband at the end of this month, its leader said Wednesday.

Makoto Yuasa said his group has helped change public perceptions of temporary workers and their problems, and will continue to support the unemployed through consultation services.

“People began to recognize that the lack of a social safety net is an underlying problem behind the layoffs and firings of temporary workers,” Yuasa said. “Earlier it was said that the workers themselves were responsible (for their plight).”

The social activist, who has addressed poverty since the mid-1990s, served as “mayor” of the Hibiya tent village, drawing attention to a social problem created when businesses started cutting jobs left and right as the worst postwar recession kicked in.

Its members, who include people from labor unions and civic groups, were originally scheduled to disband early this year but stayed on to provide followup employment and other support for people who were living in emergency shelters in the village.

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