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Friday, 13 November, 1998, 11:28 GMT
The hidden face of Japan's recession
Osaka's Town Hall is immaculate, but there is now real poverty elsewhere
In the first of a new series of Crossing Continents, Julian Pettifer travels to Japan to report on one of the darkest and most hidden results of the recession.

He reports from Kamagasaki, a concentrated ghetto of poverty in Japan's second city, Osaka. Kamagasaki is home to thousands of day labourers, who traditionally worked on construction sites and lived in flophouses.

Squalor in the Kamagasaki labour exchange
Now, the economic slowdown means there's no work, and the numbers of those living rough have rocketed. TB is rife, alcoholism common, starvation not unknown. Julian Pettifer hears the stories of the men who survive - barely - on rice gruel from a soup kitchen, only a stone's throw away from the glittering city centre. And he meets the campaigners trying to help the forgotten men of Kamagasaki.

Kaori Shoji - to be or not to be a Ko-Gal?
Also in the programme, Julian gets the inside info on the world of the "ko-gals" - the Japanese name for high-school age girls. The whole country is seemingly obsessed with these teens with means, both as style leaders and as objects of desire. They have plenty of disposable income and when they decide to use it en masse, the result can be dramatic. They created the Tamagotchi craze: what will they turn to next? Writer Kaori Shoji delves into their world, explaining the mysteries of transparent slip dresses, filofax fetishists and "sock glue."

Mara Nakagawa shows us her samba...
And Julian gets a taste of what happens when samba meets sushi, as he travels to Hamamatsu in central Japan. The town is home to the country's largest community of Japanese-Brazilians. These are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Japanese who emigrated to Brazil in the early years of this century. In the 1990s, the flow reversed, as Japan liberalised its immigration laws to encourage Brazilians of Japanese descent to come to the country to help solve the labour shortage. Now there are 200,000 Japanese-Brazilians living in Japan, but life isn't always easy. As Julian hears from Japanese-Brazilian journalist Mara Nakagawa, their exuberant ways and noisy parties are not always appreciated by their Japanese neighbours.

trendspotter and style journalists, explains Girl Power - Japanese style
Writer Mara Nakagawa
tells us more about the Japanese Brazilians
Crossing Continents
See also:

01 Oct 98 | The Economy
Business gloom in Japan grows
27 Sep 98 | The Economy
Japan faces a year of recession
22 Jun 98 | Asia-Pacific
Japanese seek cell-mates
Links to more Crossing Continents stories are at the foot of the page.

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Links to more Crossing Continents stories