Japan: When the bubble bursts?

The economic bubble in Japan began to grow during the Tokyo Olympics. As often happens in many of these mega events, the construction of sport complexes and dormitories for the athletes phenomenally increased the demand for labour. The work force in the city of Osaka, for instance, swelled overnight as people eagerly sought to benefit from the well-paid new jobs. The bubble, however, has burst in the course of the last five to eight years. The terrible consequences of that bursting can be seen in Kagasaki, a suburb of Osaka, the home of the ?homeless? and of a floating population of mostly aged men in search of daily work. With the bubble had come several cheap new hotels for the workers who flocked to the city, hotels that during the peak years were always full; today these are empty despite drastically reduced daily rates. Japanese Jesuits have an active presence in this impoverished quarter of the city. St. Xavier?s home is an open place for students and young people interested in the disastrous effects of a labour market that too closely follows neo-liberal principles. Most of those who walk the streets are old men or young men without specialised skills. When one talks to them they are eager to point out that they are not beggars but in search of daily work in the old, huge labour office. At 6 in the morning, the few available jobs are distributed and the lucky ones board small trucks and cars. The majority manage to get, if they are lucky, five to ten working days a month. Fr Tamaka SJ comes every day to the small Japanese-styled house; with the help of a small experienced staff, he helps the more fortunate young to see the effects of an alarming tendency to loosen the labour market and to reflect on the consequences. [HL40903]