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Tokyo: Jesuits support homeless executives

 Homeless in Japan, a phrase that might serve as the title of a novel, captures accurately the real life fate of middle-aged men who lost their jobs when their companies went bankrupt - the Jesuit News Service writes. The figure, about 30,000 according to Church sources, grows steadily upwards as the recession deepens There are 6,000 on the streets of Tokyo alone. For the homeless, to live is to be an outlaw. Where are they to sleep? Japanese law evicts them from any and every place they may seek out. Sit-down strikes, in this most disciplined of nations, only bring opprobrium upon their heads. Eventually in 1998, with outside help, some of them formed an association 'Nojiren' in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. Shimokawa Masatsugu SJ, a member of the association, says that the ultimate goal is a society in which no one is homeless and everyone enjoys a stable job and housing. Towards this end the association is bringing pressure on the government. It has met with some success. In 2002 it got a bill passed promising jobs, medical help and counselling to those on the brink of homelessness. "By forming relationships of companionship, the homeless are becoming more and more self-supporting," says Fr Shimokawa. "Exploiting their own possibilities, they act as partners in building a better society." You may contact Fr Shimokawa on: pmshimo@aa.mbn.or.jp Source: sjs headlines