Japan has traditionally been hard on welfare recipients and experts say this city's practices are common to many other local governments. Applicants are expected to turn to their relative or use up their savings before getting benefits. Welfare is considered less of an entitlement than a shameful handout, and the welfare office's practice is to try and get people off welfare within six months.
"Local governments tend to believe that using taxpayer money to help people in need is doing a disservice to citizens," said Hiroshi Sugimura, a professor specializing in welfare at Hosei University in Tokyo. "To them, those in need are not citizens. Only those who pay taxes are citizens."
Like the diarist, the other two men were sickly, ans they seemingly starved after their application for welfare were rejected. One, 68, was found lying face down in his apartment, where the gas and electricity had been cut off half a year earlier.
The application of the third man, 56, was rejected twice even though a city worker trying to collect an unpaid water bill reported seeing him weak and crawling on his apartment floor. Neighbors who last saw him said his leg had withered to the size of bamboo poles. His mummified corpse was discovered four months after his death.
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