In February 1986 at Kanchanaburi in Thailand, Father Jorge Anzorena organized an historic seminar on grassroots participation in housing, which later led to the establishment of ACHR. Sister Naoko Iyori, Professor Yuzo Uchida, Kenji Isezaki then staying in a Mumbai slum, and Mitsuhiko Hosaka then working with ESCAP joined the meeting. Father Ramiro Erviti, Arif Hasan, Rabial Mallick, John Daly, Bimbo Fernandez, Father Jo Maier, Soly Angel, Peter Swan and Somsook Boonyabancha were there. The meeting advocated that a next step should be for grassroots people, rather than professionals, to come together and share experiences. Jorge offered a small fund and Hosaka prepared a small space within the ESCAP office for Somsook to concentrate on working out an organizational design for an Asian network of communities and professionals on housing.
While the network was being established in the name of ACHR in 1988 with a secretariat in Bangkok, a small group of architectural students, housing researchers, professional planners, including Etsuzo Inamoto, Toshio Otsuki, Atsushi Tani and Tetsuya Nakamura, gathered in Tokyo quite regularly at Fr. Jorge’s office in Sophia University. Since it was a sacred place, Jorge did not offer alcohol but always prepared soft drinks called “pon juice” to the meeting. The group became named as “pon group”. Besides listening to Jorge about his updated observations on world slums, the group organized periodic seminars, edited some publications and studied community-based approaches to Asian low-income housing. The group gradually expanded and functioned as “ACHR-Japan”. Members visited communities in India, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand through ACHR contacts; they also hosted ACHR exchanges in Japan particularly with Yamamoto san and Buraku communities.
In 1995, the Great Hanshin Earthquake broke out, and the disaster recovery of Kobe became a focus as Seiji joined the group as a quake-affected architectural student. Hosaka, after coordinating an ACHR project in Ho Chi Minh City and preparing a draft proposal for TAP, eventually returned to Japan. ACHR-Japan worked closely with local groups in Kobe to advocate housing rights, hosting a HIC mission and ACHR friends from other countries to disaster-hit areas. Meanwhile, Mayumi, and then later Mami, joined the ACHR secretariat in Bangkok and worked particularly for Young Professional Programme. Father Peter Shimokawa has been active in homelessness issues in Japan and associated with ACHR’s Eviction Watch. Keke as an YP stayed in a slum in Cambodia until he and his family settled in a very active buraku community called Kitashiba. ACHR-Japan’s link with Korean groups is sustained, with Inamoto and Jeon Hong Gyu in its core, and seems to embrace meaningful comparative analysis into two-country experiences in community-based welfare. When Korean groups came to Osaka and Nagoya in 2013-14, they were taken to call upon ACHR-Japan members and they jointly reviewed Korea-Japan exchanges in the past.
After the devastating disaster of Tohoku in March 2011, ACHR-Japan for the first time received funding support from ACHR-ACCA. It gave an important opportunity for people in Japan to realize that they are, in a sense, poor and in a position to be assisted by Asian neighbours as an equal partner for mutual support. Sachiko from Tohoku was provided training opportunities in the field of community management by Seiji’s organization in Osaka, and she also shared post-disaster experiences on many occasions. There is a scope of a new community-initiated development practice, less reliant on big investments and nuke energy, (such as collective housing, community social space, cooperative housing, community funds, community enterprises, collective livelihood management), emerging in various parts of the country after the disaster and being exchanged nation-wide and region-wide. By committing to this process, ACHR-Japan may be revitalized.
Japan Update December 2014
All the latest ACCA stat.s from Japan
Why is a “rich” country like Japan asking for funds from ACCA
Big Project: Temporary evacuee housing in Osaka
Reviving the hard-won community spirit in vulnerable buraku settlements in OSAKA
BURAKU: Like India, Japan also has it’s “untouchable” caste
2 page extract on the above topics from ACCA 5 Year Report
For more information, contact Hosaka at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As we construct the NEW ACHR website we will add more information on each country. For now please consider the Country Library section below where PDF downloads with copious information is available.
Recent Changes in Homelessness in Japan
Hosaka writes that Japan is getting older and poorer, including the 3 million people who still live in the country's 840 burakus ("outcaste settlements"). Many inner-city burakus that were upgraded and revitalized in 70s and 80s are, for various reasons, becoming dilapidated and deserted. In 2002, national government subsidies that were fought very hard for by the Buraku Liberation movement, to make up for centuries of discrimination, were stopped.
1 page extract from E-News
Discussions of eviction in contemporary Japan must be approached a little differently than in most of Asia as Japan has no slum areas—at least not in the same sense as many other Asian countries. Thus, this article discusses the homeless rather than slum populations. In the following pages, I will report on changes in conditions surrounding forced evictions of homeless communities, while also providing an overview of homelessness in Japan and related government policies.
Peter Masatsugu Shimokawa (translated by Rayna Rusenko)
15 pages 186 kbs
Update on the TOHOKU earthquake and Tsunami in Japan after 3 Year … MAY 2014
With notes from ACHR - Japan Prof Hosaka. It has now been three years since a powerful earthquake off the coast of Japan churned up a devastating tsunami that swept over houses, towns and farmlands in the country's northeastern Tohoku region, and caused one of the world's worst nuclear accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuke Power Station on 11 March 2011. More than 18,000 people lost their lives and 260,000 are still living in temporary shelters or evacuated somewhere else.
3 pages 483 Kbs
Osaka's Buraku Communities Face Down "Integration"
3 million people in Japan come from a community which has traditionally been discriminated against in housing, employment, marriage, education and social status. Many used to live in burakus ("outcast settlements"). The Buraku Liberation League (BLL) has struggled for a century for their rights, and since the 1970s has won support from central and local governments which enabled people in some 840 Burakus to improve their communities.
Extract from E-News June 2013 3 pages 828 Kbs
ACHR Loses an Old Friend in Japan: Professor Yuzo Uchida
Brief thoughts from Hosaka, Fr Jorge and Inamoto on the passing of Uchida
Extract form E-News March 2011 1 page
Lessons learned from our experiences of earthquakes and natural disasters
From Prof. Uchida - sent to us after the Asian Tsunamiof 2004
This is a PDF from our old website ..... there are minor conversion errors at the end of each page. Appologies