Japan PM promises action after homeless denied typhoon refuge

Tokyo (AFP) –


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised Tuesday to take action after reports emerged of two homeless men being denied access to a Tokyo typhoon shelter as a powerful storm, which killed nearly 70 people, battered Japan.

The men had sought refuge at a shelter in Taito, eastern Tokyo, when typhoon Hagibis made landfall and barrelled through the capital and its surrounds.

A Taito spokesman told AFP that officials refused them entry because the shelters were meant for residents of the ward.

Asked about the incident, Abe told parliament the homeless men should have been given refuge.

"Shelters are supposed to be set up for the purpose of protecting lives of affected people," Abe said.

"It is desirable to accept all affected people in shelters," he said, adding he would take measures to prevent similar cases.

Hagibis unleashed fierce winds and unprecedented rain that triggered landslides and caused dozens of rivers to burst their banks.

By Tuesday afternoon, local media put the death toll at nearly 70, with around a dozen people missing.

Local media said one homeless man was found dead on Tuesday near a flooded river in another area of the capital. Police suspect he lived near the river and drowned in the floods.

According to the government, some 1,100 people sleep rough in Tokyo, accounting for a quarter of the nation's homeless.

"But the actual figure may be larger as new types of homeless people who stay at internet cafe or other facilities are emerging," a government official said.