There have been some controversial opinions over an incident that took place as typhoon Hagibis wreaked havoc on Japan this weekend, causing the deaths of more than 60 people.
Two homeless men were denied protection from the harsh elements of the typhoon when they tried to enter a primary school in Tokyo that was substituting as an evacuation center. They weren’t permitted inside simply because they didn’t have an address. San’ya is a region that is typically populated with a lot of labourers and homeless people. It is situated in the Taito ward of Tokyo, the same area where the school is.
“I told them that I have an address in Hokkaido [several hundred miles from Tokyo], but they still denied me entry,” said the 64 year old homeless man. “I wanted them to allow me into the facility because the wind was strong and it was raining”.
The man was forced to endure the night with nothing but an umbrella and the eaves of a building for shelter. Later that day, another homeless man was also turned away under the same conditions.
Response on social media
Many people were shocked and disgusted by the shelter’s move to reject the homeless men.
“Is this a country that’s going to host the Olympics in Tokyo?” one person tweeted. “People from abroad would see this and think this is a terrible country.”
On the other hand, many people don’t have such a sympathetic position towards the incident, saying that homeless individuals who smell bad or who are mentally unstable should only have access to shelters that have a separate space designated for them.
Among some of the tweets regarding the matter, one user said, “If you claim your rights, do your duties first,” while another posted, “Can you sleep next to a stinking person?”
Japan Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, says that “evacuation centers should let anyone in who has come to evacuate”.
The Taito ward claims that in the future it will reevaluate its methods to assist those without addresses in the area.