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Jobless Okinawans seek assistance at Tokyo park

Date Posted: 2009-01-08

Second and third generation Okinawans who migrated back to Japan for employment, and who’ve lost those jobs due to the economic cutbacks, are getting help in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park.
More than 500 people have sought food and a sleeping site in the park, where a temporary village has been established to help the Okinawans who had moved back to Japan from central and South American. They were laid off from jobs last month, with many losing their homes or being evicted from company dormitories. The Tokyo Metropolitan Office has joined forces with more than 100 volunteers, closing school gymnasiums to create temporary homes for the unemployed workers. The move to open gymnasiums is not a long term arrangement, officials say, with plans to open the facilities until January 12th.
The Okinawa-Brazil Friendship Association in Okinawa says “there are so many phone calls coming to our association to get help.” Director Yuuske Adaniya says “they would like to come to Okinawa to get jobs, but here there’s not much work for them, either.” Adaniya says “we want to help and support them, but how? They don’t even speak Japanese, and they can’t read Japanese, and they have children, too.”
The Friendship Association director notes “they don’t have money to let children go to school, and there are too many people living together in small apartments.” Some Okinawans want to return to South America, but lack money to buy tickets, so they’re looking to Okinawa to get jobs. The government is trying to help, but is limited. In the meantime, the second and third generation Okinawans are taking advantage of the food lines in Hibiya Park.

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