Homeless in Tokyo’s 23 wards over age 65 on average for 1st time

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A view over Ueno Park in Tokyo, looking south. Some homeless people are known to reside in the park in Taito Ward.

Central Tokyo’s homeless population has an average age over 65 for the first time since a metropolitan government survey started in 2003.

The metropolitan government late last month released the results of its latest survey on homeless people in the 23 wards conducted in November 2021 through interviews. The survey is conducted once every five years, in general.

The average age of the 320 people surveyed was 65.1, which was 1.2 years older than the average from the previous survey in 2016.

Over 43% of the people surveyed this time had been living on the streets for over 10 years. People who had a fixed place to live reached 91%, of which 32% lived on riverbanks.

Almost 40% said their health was “not good” or “not so good,” but about 64% of these people had not been doing anything about it, such as taking medication.

About 40% said their occupation before becoming homeless was as a “construction or mining worker.” As for the reason for becoming homeless, about 20% cited “bankruptcy or loss of employment.”

About half of the people surveyed said they had income from work. Overall, the average monthly income for all respondents was ¥52,894.

Asked about their future livelihood, about half of them said they were “fine the way it is.”

“Elderly people who have long been on the streets have gotten used to the life and are finding it difficult to reintegrate into mainstream society,” said a metropolitan government official in charge of the issue. “We would like to provide necessary support, such as having nurses go around to provide consultations.”