Japan's Net Café Refugees

Posted by: Ian Rowley on August 28, 2007

Japan’s 24 hour internet cafes often double as places where revelers can hang out before the first bus or train home in the morning. With food, drink, showers and other amenities on hand, the cafes often a cheap alternative to a hotel. Yet for some Japanese, internet cafes are a low-cost substitute for a home. According to a survey by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, 5,400 people in Japan who have no fixed address spend their nights sleeping in internet cafes.

Depressingly, many of the café dwellers, known as Net Café Refugees, are part of Japan’s Lost Generation that saw their prospects hurt during the long downturn in the 1990s but are yet to benefit from the economic comeback of the last few years. Over half work casually on a day-to-day basis. In Tokyo, the average monthly income is just $950—insufficient to rent a one room apartment—and 40% said they had experienced sleeping on the street.

Reader Comments

Forexmillionaire.com

September 13, 2007 7:15 AM

I find this troubling and can't believe it is happening in Japan. With all their worldwide economic prosperity and wealth, the Japanese government should be able to take care of its citizens. It is difficult to imagine helpless and homeless Japanese citizens sleeping in internet cafes!

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies.

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