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Economy

Tokyo's homeless population shrinks 7% in central wards

Strong job market reduces number of people living on streets and in parks

Among Tokyo's 23 wards, Shinjuku had the highest homeless population, at 102.

TOKYO -- The number of homeless people in central Tokyo has dropped 7% from a year ago, the metropolitan government says, with the robust job market receiving much of the credit.

The Japanese capital's 23 central wards contained 570 homeless people, based on a survey in August by the Tokyo government and its wards, towns and villages. The figure, down from 614 in August 2018, covers individuals living on the streets, in parks or stations, and riverside. Another 15 were counted in neighboring towns.

A separate survey by Japan's land ministry counting homeless people near rivers in Tokyo managed by the central government -- such as the Tama and the Arakawa -- found 452 people in August, down 17% from the same period last year.

Taken together, the 1,037 people mark a sharp reduction from two decades ago, when a 1999 survey counted 5,800 homeless individuals in Tokyo.

The city's jobs-to-applicants ratio continues to exceed 2-1, meaning that ample employment is available. Tokyo and its municipalities also are offering temporary housing and supporting rehabilitation for homeless people.

Ranked by ward, Shinjuku recorded the most homelessness with 102 people, followed by 69 in Shibuya and 59 in Taito. The Tokyo survey was conducted during daytime, and the number of people who spend the night on the streets may differ.

Yet Tokyo's homeless population is far smaller than those of other major cities. New York had 78,676 homeless individuals in 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says, while Los Angeles had 49,955.

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