“Toyoko Kids” (Suffering and inequality among Japanese teenagers)

shibuya Society and Culture

What is Toyoko Kids?

Toyoko Kids is a group of young people who gather in a corner called “Toyoko” in Kabukicho, Shinjuku. To-yoko means the area next to Shinjuku Toho Building, a commercial facility that houses movie theaters and other facilities.
Toyoko Kids is made up of mostly teenagers, including middle school and high school students, and some of them are elementary school students. They gather and sit next to the toe, where they talk with other young people in similar situations, take videos and selfies, and drink and have fun. Since this is a group of minors, some young people are brought to the emergency room due to acute alcohol poisoning or overdose from over-the-counter drugs. In recent years, young people gathered in Toyoko have been approached by unscrupulous adults from anti-social organizations, selling them illegal drugs, forcing them to engage in prostitution, and even using them as illegal drug dealers.

Why do young people flock to Toyoko? It is believed that Toyoko Kids gather in Kabukicho because they have no place at home or at school. 
According to research, the people who gather at Toyoko are children who are having trouble at home or at school. It is said that factors such as family discord, child abuse, poverty, discord with friends at school, bullying, academic problems, and refusal to attend school are said to be the causes. 

Widening disparities are a problem in developed countries, and it can be said that not only economic disparities but also disparities in the education that young people receive and disparities in the environments in which young people find themselves are widening.

While the number of young people like Toyoko Kids is increasing and becoming a social problem, some children from wealthy families and elite classes are busy competing for entrance exams, and some are even aiming to attend prestigious schools in Europe and America. It’s becoming more noticeable. There are only a few families in Japan who can afford to do so.

Japan’s society, which traditionally had a thick middle class, has widened due to economic turmoil such as the Lehman Shock and the Corona Shock, as well as sluggish economic growth due to the declining birthrate and aging of the population. It may be starting to cast a shadow. I am concerned that this growing disparity among the younger generation may lead to future divisions in Japanese society and may be a sign that the peaceful, safe, and kind Japanese society that Japan has prided itself on will collapse.

Toyoko Square