chapter  13
9 Pages

Life on the margins in Japan: homeless, migrant day laborers, and people with disabilities

ByCarolyn S. Stevens

One of the most striking challenges to the image of Japan as a middle-class and mono-cultural society is the existence of yoseba (a gathering place for day laborers) and doya-gai (single-room housing hotel districts) in many urban areas throughout Japan. People involved with the construction industry, as well as other manual laboring jobs, live and fi nd work in these districts nestled in Japan’s larger cities – Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, and Fukuoka. The term yoseba literally means “a gathering place”; the fact that this is a place where day laborers gather is merely implied. The presence of a labor introduction offi ce is the primary defi ning characteristic of a yoseba, although this does not preclude other kinds of labor brokering that occur outside the offi cial government offi ces, including unoffi cial or illegal labor brokers on street corners.