The Anti-Poverty tent village in Hibiya Park closed today with a demonstration (led by Makoto Yuasa, in the top photo) outside the Japanese Parliament building calling on the government to do something about the problem in the hope that the 1,600 volunteers that helped well over 500 of Japan`s homeless, out of work and working-poor over the last 6 days in Tokyo will not have to do it all again next winter.
The media coverage, in this country at least, of this event was outstanding. Every news network and every major newspaper covered it and most of the coverage was generous and positive. This was real grass-roots stuff: housewives and retired businessmen; students and shopworkers as well as activists, charity workers and union representatives all pitched in to help, many after first hearing about it on the news. The ruling LDP party are perhaps on borrowed time now, prime Minister Taro Aso certainly is, because this feels like a sea-change in Japanese society; even the wealthy, conservative classes that a few short years ago refused to see homeless people or accept the idea of there being poverty in Japan appear to support the aims of the camp and, at long last, grumble that something is wrong with the people who let this happen- the people they decade after decade have voted for!
That is probably why New Komeito (the coalition party to the ruling Liberal Democrat Party LDP) politicians were all lined up waving and clapping as the camp marched passed their offices this afternoon. Their smug hippocracy made one of the marchers so angry that he tried to attack some of them. He didn`t get far, the police stopped him sharpish, but he was not arrested and instead started to sing a satirical song questioning the intelligence of the Prime Minister surrounded by millions of cameras. I think he made his point.
He should have thrown shoes perhaps as is all the rage in rage these days. But, you see, many in the march only had the pair they were walking in; that`s what it means to be poor.