'Not a very good place,' Japanese academic Toshio Mizuuchi said, shaking his head at the end of a visit to a Yau Ma Tei shelter. The shelter is above a refuse collection point and next to the fruit wholesale market, where workers' shouts can be heard at night as they unload products. Professor Mizuuchi and two other scholars from Osaka were in the city last week as part of a research project on homelessness. On Thursday, they joined a group of graduate students, social workers and local volunteers to visit street sleepers in two shelters in Yau Ma Tei and Shamshuipo. The group also visited the homeless on the streets in Tsim Sha Tsui. Professor Mizuuchi said: 'I can't believe seeing so many young street sleepers in Hong Kong. Those in Osaka are all over 55.' Among the street sleepers Professor Mizuuchi referred to was Ah Wan, 32, who has been staying in the Yau Ma Tei shelter. With the help of two translators, he told his visitors from Japan: 'We can't stay in the shelter during the day so I go to parks and libraries. 'I have tried to find jobs but got no replies.' Professor Mizuuchi was not impressed with the facilities at Hong Kong shelters. He said the 6,000 street sleepers in Osaka enjoyed better living conditions than their counterparts in Hong Kong. 'They gather together to fight for their rights, which I don't see here,' he said. Ng Wai-tung, a social worker who helps street sleepers, agreed with the professor. He sent three street sleepers to Osaka three years ago as part of an exchange programme and they returned to tell Mr Ng that their Japanese counterparts were more united. Professor Mizuuchi did find something to praise Hong Kong for - the many non-governmental organisations helping the needy. 'In Osaka, the burden is on the government,' he said.