Since 1990s the number of rough sleepers in Japan has been increasing.
According to the survey conducted in large cities in the country from 1998
to 2000, the number reached to approximately 20,000. In recent years, rough
sleepers can be seen in provincial cities or even in smaller cities; thus,
the actual number should be much more than 20,000. Also we should note
that the survey only counted those who sleep on streets, in parks, and
along riversides; this attributes to the terminological difference---meaning
of "homeless"---between Japanese and English. In Japanese, "homeless"
does not include those who are about to be evicted from their houses and
those who live in the houses in inappropriate condition.
One of the distinct characteristics on Japanese homeless is that single middle-aged men are the majority; this fact is deeply associated with "yoseba
". According to the surveys done by Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Osaka City Government, most of rough sleepers used to stay at "yoseba" and the majority were employed in the construction industry. During the 60s to 70s---a time of intensive economic growth in Japan, numerous day laborers gathered from all over the country. When economic stagnation arrived in the late 1980s and 1990s, those day laborers became "homeless"---unable to pay for staying at doss-houses. Today, aged and/or diseased laborers who are unable to work have no choice but to live on streets or in parks.