Hikikomori: The movement of living as a hermit of Japan and the story of few people know about people on the margins of society - Photo 1.
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The trend of living as a "hermit" of Japanese people and a story that few people know about people on the sidelines of society


What is Hikikomori?

According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, hikikomori is a concept that refers to people staying in the house for at least 6 consecutive months, not going to school or work, rarely interacting with others, even family members. This term was given by psychiatrist Tamaki Saito in the 1990s to describe young people who are depressed with social life and want to retreat to a "hidden" life. The word hikikomori in Japanese means "to withdraw and rest". This is called a "lost generation", who only live around 4 walls, do not socialize with anyone, nor go to work to earn money or even get married or give birth.

Many people believe that hikikomori are lazy people, have personality problems, just like to stay in the room. But the reality is that the age of the hikikomori can be up to 35, and are smart, capable and have stable jobs.

In December 2018, the Japanese Cabinet Office conducted a first survey of people aged 40-64 and the results published in March showed that about 613,000 people of this age group were hikokimori. This exceeds the number of young people aged 15-39 in a 2015 survey of 541,000 people.

According to the survey, 46.7% of the hikikomori surveyed said they refused to communicate for at least 7 years and 34.1% said they were financially supported by their parents. The Ministry of Welfare Ministry Takumi Nemoto thinks that this is a new phenomenon, however, some experts believe that the survey results merely bring the problems that existed into light.

Journalist Masaki Ikegami, who wrote about hikikomori during the past 20 years

Journalist Masaki Ikegami, who wrote about hikikomori during the past 20 years, said that Japanese social structure made it difficult for people to return to normal life. He said that the majority of hikikomori are people who have difficulties in life and suffer severe mental injuries in personal relationships.

Other cases may include experiencing bad experiences at school, or experiencing disasters, accidents and illnesses. According to him, there are many different reasons, and it can happen to anyone of any age.

Implications of hikikomori

Hikikomori seems to be a taboo subject in Japanese life. Not to mention, this is considered to be the starting point of criminal acts in the 1990s. There are a number of crimes recorded from hikikomori.

In 2000, a hikikomori fled from a mental hospital, took a bus and killed a passenger. Another hikikomori because of watching porn is planning to rape four teenagers. Next is a scandal of a 24-year-old boy who kidnapped a 17-year-old girl and during the four months of the victim's muzzle.

The horrific crimes that occurred with constant frequency caused many Japanese to feel afraid of the hikikomori. However, experts believe that most hikikomori are not capable of harming others, except themselves.

The stories of hikikomori are reintegrating into society

Yamase lives in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo with his mother, Kazuko, who raised him after his parents divorced at 10 years old. Yamase suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), making it difficult for him to take care of himself.

Hikikomori: The movement of living as a hermit of Japan and the story of few people know about people on the sidelines - Photo 2.

Kenji Yamase, 50 years old, single and living with his parents.

Yamase is one of thousands of hikikomori in his 50s, single and living with his parents. This is bringing to Japan a time bomb that can explode at any time, affecting the country's social economy.

Yamase said: "My mother said that she had no choice but to take care of me, but now she is old and she can hardly move quickly like before. I feel sorry for her, I cause many problems for her. I am at an age where I have to take care of myself but until now she still has to take care of me. "

Yamase struggled during his schooling. He constantly missed opportunities and when he found a job, he could not complete the assigned tasks and eventually had to quit his job. Then he spent 2-3 years in his room without contacting anyone.

He shared that: "I will read or sleep, but I am not happy at all. I always feel worried but I am afraid to go back to society and get back to work. I want to stay away from the pressure. I don't like it. But staying at home is better than going to work, if you ask why I am not looking for a new job, it is because I think I will fail again, I think, no matter how hard I try , everything will happen the same way. "

Feelings of failure and shame are common feelings of hikikomori of all ages

Naohiro Kimura is an excellent, intelligent student from Ibaraki Prefecture. After graduating from high school, Naohiro wanted to attend law school, but his father refused the aid. Therefore, he locked himself in his room and taught himself 10 hours a day.

Hikikomori: The movement of living as a hermit of Japanese people and the story of few people know about people on the sidelines of society - Photo 3.

Naohiro Kimura | ANDREW MCKIRDY

Gradually, without social interaction, Naohiro found himself cut off from the outside world. His spirit began to become negative and in the end he could not concentrate on studying anymore. Instead, he stared at the TV screen for about 10 hours a day and just left the house at night when he was sure he wouldn't face anyone.

Naohiro Kimura has been a hikikomori for 10 years and is now 35 years old. He said: "I think I failed. If you graduated from university in Japan but then didn't get a job, everyone looked at you as if you were playing. So, I was very embarrassed and I I don't want anyone to see me anymore. Whenever I see a person wearing a suit, I feel like a mess, I hate to see other people work, because I will start comparing myself. I'm with them.It makes me feel miserable and embarrassed. "

Kimura said that he did not consider himself a hikikomori because he often went out to walk the dog. The typical image of a hikikomori is a person who never leaves their room, but in fact, it is only a small percentage of many hikikomori.

Naohiro Kimura said: "Hikikomori are people who do not work, so they themselves think that people will criticize them and consider them useless. They also think that the people around will start" going to class ", so they avoid places that might be in contact with those people, Hikikomori might go to the library, go to a convenience store or go to a train station, where they don't know anyone or no one will talk. With them, some people will even like to go to convenience stores with foreign employees. "

Hikikomori: The movement of living as a hermit of Japan and the story of few people know about people on the sidelines of society - Photo 4.

Tsukiba University professor Saito, a leading expert in social alienation, said that shame can affect a hikikomori's family. He said: "In Japan, people tend to hesitate before doing anything that catches the attention of others. When people realize that they have become hikikomori, they know that society will not care. they and they make them afraid, the family thinks so too, when parents realize that their children are not leaving the house and not working, they will try to hide them as well as possible. "

Mr. Saito also added that bad relationships in the family are often the root cause of alienation from society and a hikikomori that is difficult to get rid of without problems from outside support.

In Kimura's case, he became unable to control his emotions and often quarreled with his parents. Finally, his parents had to call home two police officers and two medical workers. Kimura felt angry because his parents treated him like a criminal, but then he reluctantly agreed to see a psychiatrist. He finally realized that he was really a hikikomori.

Kimura and his parents participated in psychological treatment for the next 6 months. After that, he began taking steps to reintegrate into the community. Three years later, Kimura describes himself as a still recovering person. He still wants to continue studying law but now he is working part time as a photographer and also creates a channel called Hikikomori Shimbun, which is on behalf of hikikomori to speak out they. In his own experience, Kimura began a protest against the use of force to bring hikikomori out of their rooms.

Hikikomori: The movement of living as a hermit of Japan and the story of few people know about people on the margins of society - Photo 5.

Currently, there is a group of people using force to bring the hikikomori out of their current state. This group believes that instead of open dialogue, coercion is the best way to solve the problem of social alienation.

However, Mr. Saito also said that society now has a more compassionate view of hikikomori. Last April, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government transferred hikikomori support services to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Before that, problems with hikikomori were considered a minor crime problem.

Over the past few years, Kimura and Yamase have established important links to support the hikikomori back to the community. Both feel that public understanding of hikikomori is important to improving the overall situation. However, with many prejudices and misconceptions that have existed for many years, it is difficult to make people listen and understand.

Kimura said: "Many people think that hikikomori is a danger. Hikikomori has been linked to criminals through cases. Hikikomori is equivalent to criminals. I don't think that people who recognize a hikikomori are people who don't contact the commune. They can go out, but it is the lack of interaction between relationships that makes them hikikomori, people think that hikikomori has a simple life, that they just relax and rest. Rest, but the reality is quite the opposite, it is an extremely terrible thing. "

(According to JapanTimes)


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