Yoseba Annual #28 (2016) Contents and abstracts

Yoseba Journal No.28: Contents and abstracts

First special feature: Resistance to Gentrification

Is the ideal of participatory development being realized in the "Nishinari Special District Concept"?

The "Nishinari Special District Concept" is being fanfared as a form of "participatory town-building," and local residents are being called upon to take part in the project. But in view of the fact that historically Kamagasaki has always been under the influence of outsiders, the participation of outsiders needs to be discussed. Looking back over past debates on participatory development, we can see several shared issues left by participatory development and welfare education, regarding the need for self-critical involvement of outsiders. When outsiders get together with the workers and welfare recipients of Kamagasaki to deal with social issues outside the district, Kamagasaki presents a new attraction, as not just a "workers' town" but also a "town that fosters workers." At the same time, by expunging the prejudice that has been directed at Kamagasaki, the need for coordination of interests that has been forced upon "local residents" may well be shaken from its foundations.

Rethinking "cooperative action": from the perspective of developments in homeless support and action

This paper aims to review the trend towards "cooperative action" between homeless support and activist groups and the government authorities. My case study is the Shibuya Free Alliance to Win Survival and Livelihood for Homeless People, known by its Japanese acronym, Nojiren. Founded in 1998, Nojiren has modified its activities in response to changing government policy, but continues to maintain an adversarial stance towards the authorities in its campaign for "street rights." A major turning point was the enactment of the 2002 Homeless Self-reliance Support Act, which was the cue for many groups engaged in homeless support and activism to change tack towards cooperation with the authorities. Nojiren, however, only further emphasized its resistance to the authorities. How did this turning point come to pass? And what is the meaning of resistance at a time when fine-tuned welfare support responding to individual needs is called for? By discussing the development of Nojiren's activities, I seek to answer these questions.

Kamagasaki will not disappear: History and the present day

Not a few of the doya-gai (skid row districts) and hanba villages (groups of workers' boarding houses) that used to be found around Japan have disappeared in the course of redevelopment. The Osaka doya-gai of Kamagasaki has also been threatened with extinction many times, but has survived. I summarize the history of Kamagasaki with special regard to a number of turning points. In recent years we have seen moves to reduce the scale of the yoseba (day-laboring market) under the name of the "Nishinari Special District Concept", but there have also been moves to turn Kamagasaki into a place for the training of craftsmen for the construction industry. So long as the doya, or cheap lodging houses, remain, there is every possibility that Kamagasaki with survive as a base for mobile workers.

Second special feature: Takidashi; The concept of communal cooking

The autonomy of the takidashi within the yoseba

Takidashi, meaning free handouts of communally cooked food, are part of yoseba life, but their political or philosophical significance has hitherto received relatively little attention. However, most of the takidashi currently being run in parks, riverbanks and on the streets are now in a state of crisis, and the need for debate on this issue is steadily increasing. This paper aims to establish a foundation for that yoseba debate. Based on my experience with the "Association to Get Victory" (Kachitoru-Kai), in Kamagasaki's Triangle Park, I will discuss the following issues. First, the essence of the takidashi as the sharing of food. Second, the yoseba takidashi as a form of domestic labor that serves as a working rebuttal to the capitalist concept of reproductive labor. Third, the question of the autonomy of the takidashi in the yoseba. I believe this discussion may also contribute to theorizing the "naturally occurring" takidashi that spring up in so many places after a natural disaster. By revealing the specificity of the yoseba takidashi, I will look for themes they share with takidashi in other places, and thereby deepen the discussion on what we can see happening in takidashi generally.

The takidashi as cultural struggle: who are the standard-bearers?

In Osaka's Kamagasaki Patrol Association (Kamagasaki Patororu no Kai), communal cooking by homeless people and their supporters did not give birth to a new communalism or subjectivity in the homeless movement. The reason is that homeless people engaged in making the food developed a discriminatory consciousness towards those who merely received it. This occurred because those making the meals acquired a positive self-image through having their identity affirmed by the supporters, but still retained the negative awareness of their status as homeless people. Self-driven action by homeless people will only become possible when the history of homeless people, those with no fixed abode, is disclosed, so that the negative consciousness of homelessness can be swept away.

MUKAI Koichiro
Communal cooking: linking the site of poverty with support

Communal cooking emerged around 1990, as part of the shift from the day laborer movement to the homeless movement. Communal cooking (kyodo suiji) was clearly differentiated from food handouts (takidashi), in that everyone was supposed to take part in the cooking, and there would be no line of people waiting for food. But especially important was the link between the activity and the site of homeless people's lives. In the homeless movement, it is absolutely imperative that homeless people themselves should take the leading role. It is important to always be aware of who this is all about. In lower-class society both positive and negative elements appear, dramatically distinguished. Thus in communal cooking we have always tried to confront contradictions such as hierarchical relationships, power relations, violence etc. When thinking about the meaning of our movement, we must never think of homeless people simply as people defined by the negative condition of not having a place to live. The action of homelessness is a form of resistance, created by proletarian workers amid the conditions in which they have been placed. The challenge for the movement is how best to back up that resistance.

AOKI Hideo
The formation and development of images of "vagrants": focusing on Yokoyama Gen'nosuke

Modern people make "diligence" and "independence" the basis of their living ethics. Accordingly "laziness" and "dependence" are ethical negatives. In the modern age "vagrants" (furosha) have been viewed as lazy, dependent people. The urban poor and transients were conceptually divided between "good vagrants" and "bad vagrants," the former being absorbed into the city and the latter expelled. This image of vagrants existed since the Meiji Era. Reportage and research on urban lower-class society made the same distinction, as did Yokoyama Gen'nosuke, author of the classic "Japan's Urban Lower-class Society." But there was also reportage and research that reversed the image of the vagrant, celebrating the lives of vagrants as human beings. This perspective, viewing vagrants as active agents, can still be found in homeless research today. Vagrants are both objectified and subjectified. This paper analyzes the antagonistic relationship between these two perspectives on urban lower-class society. The perspective that treats vagrants as humans exposes the exclusionary structure of the modern city from its bottom stratum, corrects the errors of reportage and research complicit in that structure, and creates a fortress for all-inclusive urban lower-class research.

Kobe slums in the 1910s as seen in "Crossing the Death Line" by Kagawa Toyohiko

In order to reevaluate the concept of the slum, which includes the yoseba, this paper takes up Kagawa Toyohiko's strongly autobiographical novel, "Crossing the Death Line" (Shisen wo Koete; 1920) and analyzes the 1910s Fukiai Shinkawa slum described in that novel. This slum was formed out of Meiji era treaty reforms and the "naichi zakkyo" policy abolishing residence restrictions on foreigners, and bears the stamp of Kobe's modernization. The Fukiai Shinkawa slum also displays the high level of mobility among urban lower-class residents, and the decidedly low threshold between residents involved in the urban informal economy and unskilled mechanics. As such, I believe that observation of this Japanese slum in the 1910s offers many hints relating to present-day society, where irregular employees make up 40% of the total workforce. Finally, I look at Kagawa himself, who lived in the Fukiai Shinkawa slum and engaged in various anti-poverty activities. I observe and criticize the use of discriminatory expressions that can be found in his writing of this period.

The "Japanese Mainland" and "Okinawa" under the Cold War regime

This paper first looks at how the massive capital of the construction industry seized a colossal amount of compensation money from the half-destroyed Japanese bureaucracy after defeat in the imperialist war. The pretext was the cost of putting down uprisings by Korean and Chinese coal miners etc. Next I look at how a body called the Tokken Kyoryoku-Kai (Special Construction Cooperation Association; later renamed the Tokubetsu Chotatsu-sho or Special Procurement Agency), was formed by bureaucrats and private-sector representatives, mostly from the construction industry) and took orders from those involved with the occupation military forces for the repair of confiscated property and new construction. This led to a (re)construction boom. Then in the early 1950s this body took charge of constructing military bases and related facilities in Okinawa with the powerful support of the US occupying forces, making enormous profits. The foundation of those profits was the heartless exploitation of workers from Amami and Okinawa in prison-like work camps called "tako-beya." In this way the construction industry's monopoly capital teamed up with the Japanese bureaucracy and the American occupying powers to create a huge tripod power structure. In the background to this was the Cold War confrontation between the US-led white empire and the Soviet red empire. We have to be clear that today's Japan and the living of its inhabitants were built on the platform of the Ryukyu islands and Vietnam.
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