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Japanese support groups continue to help those in need as COVID-19 crisis persists

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Support group activities continued during the Golden Week holiday period until Wednesday to help those hard hit by the protracted COVID-19 crisis.

Among those who have gathered for free meals and other services in recent months are young people and people with children, groups that were rarely seen in such places before.

A member of a support group said: “People in need have become mentally exhausted now that a year has passed since the first declaration of emergency.” The government’s third state of emergency for COVID-19 is in effect in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures.

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Monday, 150 bento meals were distributed at Saint Ignatius Church in the Chiyoda district of Tokyo on the initiative of some forty support organizations. Homeless people and other visitors received meals, as well as clothing and masks. Consulting services were also offered.

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A single mother in her 30s, who received an on-site bento with her daughter, said her part-time job has been drastically reduced due to the impact of the pandemic.

“Our lives are getting difficult and we enjoy an event like this,” she said.

The operators of accommodation facilities also provide support to people in need.

Counseling services were offered at St. Ignatius Church in Tokyo on Monday. | KYODO

Juno, a hotel group based in the Nishinari district of Osaka, has started a program at two hotel chains it operates, allowing guests to stay for ¥ 390 per night. A total of 100 rooms are available under the program.

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The hotel group offered a similar program in January this year.

Juno’s Masaki Kakutani said, “We hope that the rooms will be used by those who have lost their jobs as bases for job search and for other purposes.”

According to a survey by the Ministry of Labor, since February last year, people who have been made redundant or have had their employment contract terminated without renewal due to the virus crisis and those who should receive such treatment have totaled more of 100,000.

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Daisaku Seto, general secretary of the anti-poverty aid group Network, said a number of people have been evicted from their homes for not paying rent or for other reasons.

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These people increased sharply in January, when the government declared its second COVID-19 state of emergency, and later, Seto also said, noting that more and more people are facing poverty, regardless of their status. age, gender or nationality.

“I want the administrative institutions to fully understand that we are in a very serious situation,” Seto said.

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