January 3, 2009, 2.58 pm (Singapore time) Japan's jobless fill tent village in Tokyo park - Associated Press
TOKYO - A tent village set up in a Tokyo park for the country's growing number of jobless filled up so fast that it was moved on Saturday to a government building to accommodate the overflow.
Jobless people wait for their turn to register at an unemployed persons 'camp' at Hibiya Park, downtown Tokyo. The government offered a ministry hall late on Friday, responding to a request from volunteers, to house more than 250 unemployed and homeless people after the first comers quickly filled the tents, according to the shelter's Japanese-language website.
The homeless can stay in the building through Monday, and job counselling and other efforts are under way to place the people in other locations, it said. The tent village that volunteers and unions opened on New Year's Eve highlights the serious social costs of the global recession for the world's second largest economy.
The government estimates 85,000 part-time workers will lose their jobs between October and March. Another 3,300 permanent employees are expected to become jobless over the same period. Temporary workers have been the first to be fired in the latest wave of cutbacks as Japan's exports and company investments crashed after the US financial crisis.
Temporary jobs at manufacturing were illegal before 2004, but today top companies, including Toyota Motor Corp and Canon, routinely rely on temporary staffing to adjust production to gyrating overseas demand.
Japanese Communist Party Executive Committee Chair Kazuo Shii, who visited the village, said the government needs to do more to help the unemployed. 'It is unforgivable that Japan's major companies have thrown so many workers out on the streets at the end of the year,' he said.
For decades Japan promised lifetime employment at major companies, and government welfare programs for the jobless are still limited.
The tent village has also drawn some who have been needy for years. Shigeru Kobayashi, 65, who has been unemployed four years, lives in the park. 'People talked about a recovery, but it never got good anyway,' he said with a grin. 'I'm unemployed. All I have is heart.' Tamotsu Chiba, 55, a theatre producer and volunteer at the tent village, said he found the energy of the volunteers encouraging. 'There are so many different kinds of people here. This has given me a feeling of hope about Japan,' he said."
Jobless in the world 2nd largest economy! It has gone on for a few years now except that this time round the numbers are going to be big! So big that it is attracting media attentions and the politicians have to do something about it! But can them?
Lessons for me are:
1. everyone has to prepare themselves to be jobless one day. When is that day nobody knows. But when it comes you better has something for yourself as the government will NOT be able to help you too much even if it wanted to!!;
2. Singapore government is acutely aware of the unsustainable pension scheme as population growth slowed so it created the Central Provident Fund (CPF) where everyone working person will need to contribute to his or her OWN CPF fund certain % of his/her income. Unfortunately, this is NOT going to be enough when one grows old and especially in poor health and need expensive medical care! So, part of the problem is resolved partially! This is NOT good enough!;
3. so as responsible and foresighted people, we need to take care of our health when we are still gainfully employed. By being healthy, you keep one of the biggest expense of old age out or under control. The government can then help with focusing on providing world class BASIC medical care instead of building 5- or 6-star comfort hospital and medical care environment for most of the population of the nation! We can save these costs!;
4. since Singapore uses a lot of foreign labours, in such crunch time, the 1st to go has to be the foreign labor, especially those who are not as productive as the local employees! And then all other cost reduction alternatives must be exhausted before employers let go of their most valuable asset - their productive people!
Japan has a big issue on it's hand. If Singapore is not careful, we will have a lot of Singaporeans out of jobs and face difficulties in caring for themselves and their families NOT to mention their aged parents!
Keep the faith as there are volunteers who still have the hearts and the resources to help out! Steady as it goes!