On 5 February 2007, the Osaka City government removed the tents and other belongings of nine homeless persons in Nagai Park by force in accordance with the Execution of Office Act. Some 260 city officials as well as 550 guardsmen and workers were mobilized for the removal, which was executed in the midst of the tussle with more than 100 squatters and supporters who attempted to stop it.
According to the authorities, the removal was executed because of the planned maintenance of the park, including setting up street lamps, in the context of the preparations for the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Championships in Athletics, which is to be held in Osaka in August 2007. The Osaka City Office conducted similar removals in other two parks in January 2006 in the name of the maintenance of the parks for large events.
Since October 2006, the Nagai Park Administration Office has distributed pamphlets calling for the withdrawal of the tents, recommending the tent dwellers to move to public facilities. Although some of them accepted the recommendation and started to live in apartments under the public assistance scheme or were admitted into hospitals, others refused to move and have sustained their livelihood by collecting and selling empty cans and other means.
The number of homeless people increased in Japan during the recession period, which led to the adoption of the Law on Special Measures concerning Support for Self-Dependence of the Homeless and Other Matters in 2002. Aiming at ensuring self-dependence of the homeless through such measures as securing stable employment, job opportunities and housing (by way of support to find appropriate homes), the Law obliges the central and local governments to develop necessary measures to achieve these aims. The central government is also required to formulate a basic policy on the basis of national surveys. According to a survey conducted in 2003 by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the number of homeless people in Japan amounted to some 25,300, and the largest part of them (some 6,600) lived in Osaka City. While Osaka City can accommodate more homeless people than any other municipalities, through the provision of emergency temporary shelters as well as self-dependence support centers with beds and meals, the capacity is less than 2,000.
· Statement of Researchers against the Eviction of Nagai Park Residents by Osaka City Government [Japanese]
· Special Measures Law Concerning Support, etc. for Self-sustaining Living of the Homeless [English, unofficial translation]