January is always cold in Japan's Mie Prefecture. This January is no different. For many, it's a matter or turning on the heater. For the homeless, it's a matter of survival.
Recently making the rounds on 2ch is the story of a 32-year-old man discovered outside a Matsusaka City game center in Mie Prefecture. The body of the man, Noboru Tatematsu, was found in a seated postion next to the game center. According to authorities, Tatematsu froze to death.
Tatematsu originally hailed from Nagoya, but at the time of his death, he was unemployed and did not have a fixed address.
Japan does have a large homeless population—something that visitors are surprised to discover. South Osaka and parts of Tokyo, for example, is populated with cardboard and blue-tarp covered shanty towns (see above). Generally speaking, the country's homeless, however, do not beg for spare change as it's not only considered degrading. Moreover, many Japanese people seem unwilling to spare a few yen.
In the past few years, Japanese comedian Hiroshi Tamura released a best-selling autobiography called Homeless Chuugakusei or Homeless Junior High Schooler about his experience being a homeless kid.
The book, and ensuing TV drama, raised renewed awareness in the country's homeless problem. Yet, as Tatematsu's unfortunate passing proves, the problem persists.
(Top photo: Itsuo Inouye | AP)