Influencers in Japan humiliate homeless and spark NGO outrage


In Japanese social networks, videos multiply in which young people record homeless people being humiliated. The phenomenon generates indignation in the country and associations that support this part of the population denounce the cruel new fashion.

The trend is gaining more and more fans and followers on YouTube and TikTok. In one of the videos, homeless individuals are filmed sleeping in a park. Suddenly, they are awakened by young people banging on pots and screaming. The recording shows the frightened and bewildered faces of the homeless along with the laughs of the authors of the video.

In another video, young people offer to buy food for a homeless elderly woman. They enter the supermarket, walk through the aisles and the woman chooses some products: a sandwich, a bag of biscuits, instant pasta, among other items. After passing the goods at the cashier, she says that she doesn’t have the money to pay, while the boys laugh at the situation and film it with their cell phones.

Videos like these are becoming common on social networks and are presented by their authors as jokes. Posts are accompanied by likes and shares, encouraging the phenomenon.

Prejudice against poor

This type of “joke” reinforces a prejudice against disadvantaged people that already exists in Japan, where the homeless are frowned upon. It is not even uncommon for them to be blamed for their condition; many believe that they live on the street for lack of effort.

The videos are accompanied by critical comments on the reactions of the homeless, who are not always condescending in the face of humiliation. Criticisms of homeless people are reinforced by media personalities and influencers on social networks.

In 2021, statements by Japanese influencer DaiGo shocked human rights defenders in the country. In a video on his YouTube channel — which has more than two million followers — he complained about the use of the money he pays in taxes to help the poorest people. For him, “the life of homeless people is less valid than that of animals”.

Homeless NGOs fear that the trend of videos humiliating homeless people will incite even more hatred towards the poor. In 2020, a crime shocked Japan: five 19-year-olds were accused of stoning, beating and killing an 81-year-old homeless man who was sleeping under a bridge in Gifu, in the center of the country.

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