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Japan facilities accepting people driven out of net cafes due to virus face room crunch

A Kanagawa prefectural Budokan martial arts hall in Yokohama's Kuhoku Ward, accepting people who had been living at internet cafes, which were asked to shut operations after the state of emergency declaration, is seen on April 20, 2020. (Mainichi/Shinnosuke Kyan)

TOKYO -- About two weeks have passed since the state of emergency declaration in Japan due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, and facilities accepting individuals, who had been living at internet cafes that were asked to shut operations along with other establishments, are facing a room crunch.

The Kanagawa Prefectural Government opened the prefectural Budokan martial arts hall in Yokohama's Kohoku Ward, south of Tokyo, as a place for such people to stay. The number of users gradually increased, totaling about 60 people after 10 days from its opening.

People are given a space with 3-meter distance between each other, walled off by partitions, and each space is equipped with a bed. The prefectural government expects the facility to accommodate a maximum of 100 people. Prefecture and city officials supporting the livelihoods of such people have begun helping users get jobs to avoid a saturation at the facility.

A 39-year-old man who has been living at internet cafes for around four years said, "I realized how unstable it was to live at an internet cafe, which I had gotten so used to. Both of my parents have passed away and I have no one to rely on. I am considering whether to go back to that life or change my job to one that has a dorm or other accommodation after the outbreaks end."

(Japanese original by Shinnosuke Kyan, Photo Group)

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