Friday, September 9

Do you or someone you know experience hikikomori? If so you're not alone.

Wow. This subject is entirely new to me and clearly it has complex roots; it's also very controversial (see the Amazon page I link to below), so I don't have any comment at this time. 

One thing is already very clear to me, however, from the following report. In the time since the landmark book on hikikomori was published -- 2013 -- the phenomenon has doubled among young people in Japan.

Forever Alone? More Than Half a Million Young Japanese Live as Recluses
September 9, 2016

In Japan some 541,000 people between the ages of 15 and 39 are recluses, according to a government survey released Wednesday.

Hikikomori is a Japanese term used to describe people who withdraw from society. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry defines hikikomori as those who have stayed at home for a minimum of six months without going to school or work, or interacting with others, according to the Japan Times.

A 2010 survey conducted by the Cabinet Office noted some 696,000 recluses in Japan. A December 2015 survey does not include people age 40 and over [see article, below], but does reveal that 35 percent of the total have remained at home for at least seven years, documenting a trend of staying homebound for longer periods. The survey also demonstrated that the number of hikikomori aged between 35-39 has doubled. [since the 2010 survey, I assume]

Some 34.7 percent have been reclusive for at least seven years, 28.6 percent for three to five years and 12.2 percent have shut themselves in for four to seven years.

According to Tamaki Saito, a Japanese psychiatrist and the country's leading expert on the hikikomori phenomenon, the hikikomori state is similar to alcoholism, and a support network is crucial. In his book Hikikomori: Adolescence without End [English translation available at Amazon], he analyzes various aspects regarding the condition.

Saito suggests that the problem is caused primarily by the relationship between parents and children, and the pressure parents exert on children in Japan, especially male. Japanese parents have high expectations of sons, often contradicting a child's aspirations. As a result, if a child fails he loses confidence and self-esteem, followed by a period of withdrawal. 

Saito offers that Japan and many other countries in which rapid post-industrialization has changed social and family structures experience the phenomenon of hikikomori.


See also:

TV takes the lazy approach on ‘hikikomori’- Special to The Japan Times by PHILIP BRASOR; April 9, 2016

One slip can sink a salary-man's career; The Japan Times, February 13, 2016:
"Mid-life crisis: A growing number of men in their mid-40s have been fleeing their careers and displaying behavior consistent with hikikomori ..."


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