Is our work a crime?【抗議声明 英語版】


Is our work a crime?
We stand opposed to Sumida Ward’s ordinance against taking recyclables!

A call for solidarity for our October 3rd action
【An Asakusa march & rally is planned for October 3rd】
◆Starting point: Matsuchiyama Shoden Park (Ten minutes from Asakusa Station)

◆Time: Rally starts at 3pm, with plans for a march
Everyone is welcome to join! Hope to see you there!
New information will be posted at our website here:

◆The Sanya Welfare Center for Day-Laborer's Association is a group of homeless people and their allies from Sumida Ward and the Sanya, Sumida River, Tatekawa, Kinshicho, and other areas.

In the Sumida Ward assembly, an ordinance relating to recyclables such as aluminum cans and paper has just been changed for the worse (※). A fine of up to 200,000 yen (roughly USD$2,330) has been set for anyone caught carrying recyclables away from a collection point. This new ordinance takes effect on October 1, 2010 and the department in charge, namely, the Sumida Recyclables Disposal Department, has already begun compiling a list of homeless persons collecting aluminum cans and newspapers in addition to also recording persons on video for identification. We are concerned by and strongly opposed to this ordinance, which will not only gravely impact the lives of people who survive on the streets, but also shatter the already thinned relationship people on the streets have with society at large.

◆Collecting items that have been disposed of and exchanging them for money is a form of wok very dear to people who have no address for their resumes.
This urban form of work has helped people on the streets earn their bread and butter ever since Japan’s pre-war times.
Women and the elderly are included among those collecting aluminum cans and recyclables, as are many other people whose injuries, illnesses, disabilities, and other circumstances effectively expelled them from modern employment systems and into this “final shot” at an income. Persons collecting aluminum cans earn roughly 100 yen (approx USD$1.15) per kilo. If a person works through the night, with any luck, they may be able to collect 10 kilos. Despite the fact that it is labor-intensive, this work is far from lucrative―but it does provide a hard-earned income that one can be proud of.

◆Is our work a crime?
Currently, in an effort to prevent people from carrying away recyclables from collection sites, Sumida Ward is encouraging that “each neighborhood start patrols”, “citizens report offenders” and “security cameras be installed, where possible.” This work, our sole means of survival, is being increasingly portrayed as a “criminal activity” by the local government’s negative campaigning. It goes without saying that the detrimental changes made to this ordinance in fact threaten to increase the degree to which homeless persons are rejected by society.
For a long time, homeless persons who have been collecting recyclables have done so while maintaining communication with local residents and establishing both themselves and their work as part of the community. This last meek link is in danger of being severed.

◆Indeed, from the perspective of mainstream politics and administrative policies, this appears to be a peripheral concern. However, while Sumida Ward paints itself to be a “friendly community” (※2), its actions will take a heavy toll on homeless residents. The Sumida Recyclables Disposal Department has not even tried to formulate a response to our opposition to the new ordinance.
We need more people to raise their voices against this corruption of our community.
We wish for nothing more than to be able to continue to make a living.
Please join us and give your support for our rally and march on October 3rd!

Homeless and ally volunteers
Sanya Welfare Center for Day-Laborer's Association Activities Committee
Sanya Band of Labor Dispute

(※) The official title of the ordinance is the “Ordinance regarding reduction and disposal of Sumida Ward waste materials (Sumida-ku Haiki-butsu no Genryo Oyobi Shori ni Kan Suru Jorei”
(※2) In reference to the “Sumida friendly community declaration (Sumida Yasashi Machi Sengen)”
◆If you would like your name or your organization’s name added to our list of supporters, please send the following information to us via the email address below.
Your name and/or your organization:
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Your message:

Sanya Welfare Center for Day-Laborer's Association
Nihon-Tsutsumi 1-25-11, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Tel: +81-3-3876-7073/070-5022-2641
Email: san-ya(at)

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