Two homeless men seeking shelter from Typhoon No. 19 were denied entry to an evacuation facility in Tokyo’s Taito Ward because they could not produce addresses showing they lived in the ward.

Ward officials said the facility was meant for ward residents, and the two men were not allowed to enter on Oct. 12 because they did not have known addresses.

But one ward official acknowledged that they never considered what to do about homeless individuals, adding that the experience would lead to discussions on how to handle people with no known addresses in future emergencies.

According to ward officials, a 64-year-old homeless man appeared at Shinobugaoka Elementary School around 9 a.m. on Oct. 12 as Typhoon No. 19 was approaching the capital. The ward-run school had been set up as an emergency shelter for local residents evacuating on their own volition.

At the reception desk, the evacuees were asked to write their names and addresses on forms. When the homeless man was asked to fill out the form, he said, “I have no address.”

A staff member turned him away.

When questioned by The Asahi Shimbun, the homeless man said, “I told them that I have an address in Hokkaido, but they still denied me entry and said, ‘This is an evacuation center for Tokyo residents.’”

The man said he spent the night under a plastic umbrella beneath the eaves of a building.

“I wanted them to allow me into the facility because the wind was strong and it was raining,” he said.

Another homeless man visited the school on the afternoon of Oct. 12 and was denied entry for the same reason.

After hearing about that case, Atsuko Imagawa, who heads Asile, an organization that provides support to homeless people, visited the evacuation facility and other locations and asked the ward government to prepare evacuation centers for the many homeless people in Taito Ward.

Ueno Park, where many homeless people often spend the night, is located in the ward.

But a ward official in charge of crisis management said such preparations could not be made.

“There is no telling when someone might become homeless, so I became very despondent when I realized they would take discriminatory measures even when people’s lives were at stake,” Imagawa said.

Other ward governments in Tokyo allowed homeless people into their evacuation centers that were intended mainly for ward residents.

“We accepted those without known addresses because this was an especially large typhoon and people’s lives were in danger,” a Shibuya Ward government official in charge of disaster management said.

Susumu Tsukui, a lawyer who is knowledgeable about support measures during natural disasters, said the Taito Ward approach was an “absolutely absurd” violation of human rights.

He said the ward’s response violated the principle established by the Cabinet Office under the natural disaster support law to have local governments provide support to disaster victims who may be in their jurisdictions during emergencies.