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Japan has an unspoken problem with homelessness in its cities. It’s not uncommon to see tent cities along the edges of recreational parks or to see leather-skinned men sleeping on newspapers around the train stations. These people are largely ignored by the public and will keep to themselves unless provoked by some means. The vast majority do not even beg.

Unfortunately, the problem of poverty is not the only issue that these people face. Mental illness is not uncommon amongst the homeless, and the combination of hungry people and unstable mental states can lead to some especially unfortunate circumstances.

On December 16 in Yamagata Prefectures a 63-year-old man was arrested for stealing three cell phone straps and a tube of sweet bean paste from a souvenir shop in JR Yamagata Station. The man’s name is Toshio Takase, and he is both homeless and jobless. According to the police report, the man had very little money in his possession at the time of arrest and had not had anything to eat in a number of days. He apparently believed that the phone straps, plushies in the shape of edamame, were actually food! Store clerks took note of the theft immediately and contacted the authorities.

All in all, this is a truly sad tale of starvation and disillusionment. But, if there is a silver lining to this tale, at least the poor man will have some hot meals for as long as he’s in custody.

Source: Mainichi Shinbun via Hachima Kikou (Japan)
Image: Sakuranbo Shop