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What is the largest slum in Japan?


Japan is known for its advanced technology and modern infrastructure, but like any other country, it has its share of urban problems. One of the pressing issues is poverty, which has led to the formation of slums in some areas. In this article, we will explore the largest slum in Japan and shed some light on the living conditions of its residents.

What is a slum?

Before delving into the topic, it’s essential to define what a slum is. A slum is an area with substandard housing, inadequate access to basic services such as water, sanitation, healthcare, and education. Slums are often characterized by high population density, poor infrastructure, and social exclusion.

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History of slums in Japan

Slums in Japan have a long history dating back to the Edo period (1603-1867), where samurai warriors and merchants lived in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. After World War II, rapid urbanization and industrialization led to the formation of shanty towns or favelas on the outskirts of major cities. The government implemented various policies to address this issue, including public housing projects and slum clearance programs.

Kotobuki-cho: The largest slum in Japan

Kotobuki-cho is a neighborhood located in Yokohama city, Kanagawa prefecture. It is considered the largest slum in Japan, with an estimated population of 5,000 people living in poverty. The area is known for its dilapidated buildings, narrow alleys, and high crime rates.

Living conditions in Kotobuki-cho

Residents of Kotobuki-cho live in makeshift homes constructed from scrap materials such as cardboard boxes, plywood, and plastic sheets. Most houses lack basic amenities such as running water and electricity. The area is prone to flooding during heavy rains, which causes further damage to homes.

Poverty and unemployment in Kotobuki-cho

Many residents of Kotobuki-cho are unemployed or work in low-paying jobs such as construction or waste disposal. The lack of employment opportunities has led to a cycle of poverty that affects generations of families. Some residents resort to crime as a means of survival.

Social exclusion and discrimination

The residents of Kotobuki-cho face social exclusion and discrimination due to their living conditions. They are often stigmatized as criminals or drug addicts by the wider society. This stigma makes it difficult for them to access basic services such as healthcare and education.

Government policies towards slums

The Japanese government has implemented various policies to address the issue of slums. One such policy is the Public Housing Act (1951), which provides affordable housing for low-income families. Another policy is the Urban Renaissance Law (2002), which aims to revitalize urban areas through community involvement and renovation.

Challenges in addressing slums

Despite government initiatives, addressing the issue of slums remains a challenge due to various factors such as high land prices, bureaucratic procedures, and insufficient funding. The stigma associated with living in slums also makes it difficult for residents to integrate into mainstream society.

Community efforts towards improvement

Community organizations such as NPOs (Non-Profit Organizations) have played a significant role in improving the living conditions of slum dwellers. These organizations provide services such as healthcare, education, and job training programs.


The issue of slums in Japan highlights the structural inequalities that exist in society. While the government has implemented various policies to address this issue, community involvement and support are also crucial. By working together, we can create a more inclusive society where everyone has access to basic services and opportunities.


– “Slums in Japan: Who Lives There?” The Diplomat
– “Inside Kotobuki: Japan’s largest slum” CNN
– “Urban Challenges: Slums” Japan International Cooperation Agency
– “Urban Renaissance Law” Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
– “Public Housing Act” Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare

What is the biggest slum in Japan?

Kamagasaki has been an official place name since 1922, but an exact tally of its residents has never been established, even in the national census. This is partly due to the significant number of day laborers who don’t have permanent homes.

Are there any slums in Japan?

Sanya is a location where many low-wage construction workers reside, and these individuals are now part of Japan’s aging population. Alongside average love hotels, there are also squatter settlements and obscure recreational areas.

What is the poorest area of Japan?

Okinawa. Okinawa is known for its beautiful nature and tourism, but it is also the most impoverished prefecture in Japan.Oct 25, 2021

Are there any slums in Tokyo?

San’ya is the most well-known slum and also the poorest area in Tokyo. The district is notorious for its high number of homeless individuals, with an estimated 9000 people residing there who are experiencing homelessness.

Which is the No 1 largest slum in the world?

Dharavi, located in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, has been regarded as one of the largest slums globally. The suburb spans an area of slightly over 2.39 square kilometers (0.92 sq mi; 590 acres) and has a population of approximately 1,000,000.

Where are the 3 largest slums in the world?

We will visit the largest slums in the world, which include Khayelitsha in Cape Town, South Africa with a population of 400,000, Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya with 700,000 residents, and Dharavi in Mumbai, India with a population of 1,000,000.

Future prospects for Kotobuki-cho

Despite the challenges, there are signs of hope for Kotobuki-cho. Community leaders and NPOs are working towards improving the living conditions of residents through various initiatives such as home renovation projects and job training programs. The government has also shown a willingness to support these efforts through funding and policy changes.

The role of technology in addressing slums

Technology can play a significant role in addressing the issue of slums in Japan. For example, digital platforms can provide access to information and services such as job opportunities and healthcare. Mobile apps can also help connect residents with community organizations and government agencies.

Lessons from Japan’s slum problem

Japan’s experience with slums provides valuable lessons for other countries dealing with similar issues. By implementing policies that prioritize affordable housing and community involvement, governments can create more inclusive and sustainable cities. At the same time, it’s important to address the root causes of poverty and exclusion, such as unemployment and discrimination.


The issue of slums in Japan is a complex problem that requires a multifaceted approach. While the government has a crucial role to play, community involvement and support are equally important. By working together, we can create a more equitable society where everyone has access to basic services and opportunities for a better life.

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