Overturned, broken bones, daughter and destitute… 31-year-old female food delivery worker’s “epic life”. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Overturned, broken bones, daughter and destitute… 31-year-old female food delivery worker’s “epic life”.

Nonfiction writer Kota Ishii takes a look at the reality of the "young homeless," young people who have lost their homes!

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Food delivery with a large income gap (Image: Reuters/Afro. (Photo is an image and has been partially processed)

Many people in the field of support for the needy in Japan are working or have worked as food delivery workers.

Although being a delivery person is a respectable occupation, the characteristics of being able to earn an immediate income and not having to relate to people are the factors that make them chosen by the needy, resulting in a high rate of people being connected to assistance.

Following on from Part 1: Tragic confession of a food delivery worker who “fell ill and lost her house,” we would like to shed some light on the dark side of food delivery.

0A 31-year-old woman

Tomosato Hiramoto (pseudonym) was a single mother raising a preschool-aged daughter who worked at a restaurant and a snack bar. However, she lost her job due to the spread of a new type of corona infection.

Chisato chose a job as a food delivery person, a job that was often featured on TV at the time. She researched the job and found out that it was possible to earn a high income in the city center.

Put your living expenses in.”

She lived in the suburbs of Saitama Prefecture, so she decided to leave her children at home and share a room with a female friend who lived in Tokyo. Her female friend was also suffering from the COVID-19 crisis, and she wanted to reduce her rent burden.

When she first came to Tokyo, Chisato wanted to earn about 400,000 yen a month and save it before finding another job. However, when she actually started, her monthly income never reached 200,000 yen, and it was physically demanding.

In addition, her parents constantly told her, “You can’t leave your child at your convenience.

You are taking care of the children for your own reasons, so make sure you are paying your living expenses to us.

Her parents were also struggling to make ends meet and could not afford to raise a grandchild.

In order to increase her income, Chisato decided to work as a deliveryman in the downtown area, a job she had previously shied away from. However, although there were many jobs available, the competition was high, and the mental burden of getting tangled up with drunks and being yelled at by cab drivers and security guards was also heavy. I even got a flat tire on my parked bicycle.

One day, a friend with whom I shared an apartment told me that she was tired of living in the city and wanted to return to the countryside. She, too, was worn out from living in the COVID-19 crisis.

Chisato had made an initial investment in her new job as a delivery person, buying equipment and moving to a new house. She could not give up her job without being able to recoup her investment. What should he do?

While he was struggling with the problem, an accident occurs. On a rainy day, he overturned on his way home after work. He broke his leg. He was probably exhausted. He later contacted the company, but was told that since the accident happened after work, it was not covered by compensation.

Chisato decided that Chisato would return to Saitama, but her parents shunned her, saying they could not afford to accept an unemployed daughter in addition to their grandchildren. Chisato was forced to consult with the local government. She entered a mother-child living support facility and received welfare assistance before rebuilding her life.

Food delivery with a large income gap (Image: Reuters/Afro. (Photo is an image and has been partially processed)

Looking at it this way, one can see that it is difficult for a person in need to jump into a job as a delivery person and immediately earn a high income. Even if they do not have an accident, theft or breakdown of bicycles, lack or deterioration of equipment, or loss of cell phones could occur.

If a person with knowledge and preparation takes on the job as a full-time occupation, but if he or she jumps into it without prior knowledge because of the hardships of life, there is a risk of not only earning a high income, but also having even the bare minimum of one’s life disintegrate.

The Tsukuroi Tokyo Fund, a general incorporated association, has been providing specialized support for delivery workers since June 2010. Daishiro Sasaki, head of the new business department, says, “Many of the people who come to us for advice are in need of help.

Most of the people who come to us for advice are not full-time delivery workers, but are working several day jobs at the same time. They are working several day jobs, and one of them is a delivery person.

The reason why they hold several jobs is because it is difficult to do it as a full-time job. It is the same with other day jobs except for delivery workers; the income from each job is low, so no matter how much you work, it is difficult to get out of the hardship of living.

Earning 5,000 yen a day

Men in their 20s to 40s, who are now living in Internet cafes and capsule hotels and are as good as homeless, often have digital day jobs, in which they look for day labor on their smartphones to earn an income. One such job is that of a delivery person, but they cannot do it without clothes on.

First of all, they rarely own bicycles, so they have to rent bicycles. The rental costs at least 1,000 yen per day. On top of this, they have to pay for a tool to attach their phone, a charger, rain gear, plus a warmer, a hat, and drinks.

Thus, even if you earn 7,000 yen a day, it will only be about 5,000 yen in real terms. This means that not only is it impossible to escape from a life of living in Internet cafes and capsule hotels, but also, since there is no way to save money, if one becomes ill, he or she will soon find himself or herself homeless.

Sasaki continues.

Nowadays, people can do all kinds of things, such as working as a digital day laborer or a delivery person. The person is aware that he or she is working, so he or she does not try to get support, but in reality, income-wise, they are in great difficulty. In reality, however, they are suffering from income difficulties. In other words, because they are halfway out of work, they cannot escape from poverty, which is like killing a snake.

If they were completely unemployed, they would have access to welfare, and if they could find a job with sufficient income, their lives would be stable. The problem is that in the meantime, the segment of the population that is, in Sasaki’s words, “halfway decent work” is suffering from an inability to escape poverty. In other words, a situation of “in-between poverty” has emerged.

Furthermore, these “halfway decent jobs” are quite complex and diverse.

Food delivery with a large income gap (Image: Reuters/Afro. (Photo is an image and has been partially processed)

Even in the past, there were many day laborers whose conditions were not commensurate with the work they did, but workers tended to do specific jobs. Construction workers would work construction, pachinko players would work pachinko, and touts would work touting. So there was a division between those who were doing honest work and those who were doing gray work.

Nowadays, this trend is changing. Not only are people doing a wide variety of jobs at the same time, but they tend to do both clean and gray jobs at the same time.

To put it simply, on Mondays they move, on Tuesdays they are pachinko players, on Wednesdays they are deliverymen, on Thursdays they are resale linespersons, and when they are in need of money, they sell their cell phones and bank books to earn extra income. In other words, white jobs and gray jobs tend to be equated as jobs that can be done half-heartedly.

In fact, among the food delivery workers I interviewed for this report, there were some who were working as illegal traveling hosts or reselling stolen goods on the Internet to make some extra money. To them, I guess they consider their work as a delivery person and their backstage work as the same job.

Sasaki felt similarly. He stated, “Many things are ‘techniques for living.

I feel that many things are being juxtaposed as ‘techniques for living. Day jobs, crime, and sometimes even public assistance have become nothing more than a means for them to get through the difficult times they are facing. With those techniques, they can manage to survive.

What is unsettling is the environment in Japan where such a lifestyle is possible. Nowadays, even Internet cafes are comfortable and come with showers, food, and drink, so if the person is willing, he or she can make a living. The lifestyle of living in poverty has become complete.

Background of the establishment of life in Internet cafes

A generation ago, if a person lost his or her job, he or she would be reduced to homelessness in one fell swoop. However, by holding down a number of odd jobs, a lifestyle of living in Internet cafes and capsule hotels has been established.

If food delivery work has become one of the “half-dozen jobs” for the needy, that would be a problem. The Tsukuroi Tokyo Fund, where Sasaki works, provides support for such people by personally contacting delivery people for assistance and lending bicycles to reduce the burden of rental fees.

Says Sasaki.

If the person does not want us to help them, there is only so much we can do. Even so, it is possible for something to happen and for the person to suddenly become unable to eat or live in an Internet café. At such times, we want to provide proper support, and for that reason, we believe that specialized support for delivery workers is necessary.”

Again, not all food delivery workers face hardships. But when we shine a light on the field of poverty assistance, if there are problems like the ones we have seen this time, we need to assess the situation and extend a helping hand.

In the years to come, there will be further upheaval in the food delivery industry. It is important to keep an eye on these realities so that those who are vulnerable do not fall into an even greater predicament than they are now.


The series “Young Homeless” is looking for people in their 10s to 40s who have no permanent place to live. We are looking for the real-life experiences of people who have lost their housing, either now or in the past, such as people living in cars, Internet cafe refugees, migrant sex workers, day laborers living in dormitories, hotel dwellers, store dwellers, and people living in support facilities, as well as the voices of those who are providing support for these people. Anonymous or other conditions are acceptable, so please contact the author.

Kota Ishii (Author)

Twitter @kotaism

Email postmaster@kotaism.com

  • Interview and text Kota Ishii

    Born in Tokyo in 1977. Nonfiction writer. He has reported and written about culture, history, and medicine in Japan and abroad. His books include "Absolute Poverty," "The Body," "The House of 'Demons'," "43 Killing Intent," "Let's Talk about Real Poverty," "Social Map of Disparity and Division," and "Reporto: Who Kills Japanese Language Ability?

  • Reuters/Afro REX/Afro

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