Lawyers group plans youth shelter for Okinawa

A group of Okinawan lawyers has announced a plan to launch an emergency evacuation shelter for children in their late-teens who are experiencing physical abuse or don’t have a secure place to live due to their domestic circumstances.  The group is aiming to open the shelter in April 2016, and is creating an NPO to back it up.

This would be the first such shelter to open on Okinawa.  The shelter would provide food, clothing and housing for the children for a certain period.  The staff at the shelter would help the children grow independent by providing necessary professional help in cooperation with lawyers, counselors and medical staff.

Under the current government system, children under 18 can use child consultation centers, but there is no support system for 18 and 19-year-olds who still are minors according to Japanese laws.

The child shelter organizer is the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, and the program first started in Tokyo, 2004. Currently, there are 13 shelters in the country.  The locations of the shelters are undisclosed for privacy and security reasons.

The management costs of the shelter are estimated at ¥20 ~ ¥30 million per year.  Organizers expect to receive a government subsidy, but they still need to collect several million yen in donations annually to cover the expenses to run the center.

Members of the lawyers’ group say that whether they can secure a budget is the key to success. “We would like to solicit donations from companies and individuals who support this project,” they stated.