Hikikomori – Japan’s “Hikikomori” Population Could Top 10 Million | amzm.me

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Père assassin, mère dépressive, fille suicidée et fils « hikikomori » : l’enfer familial d’un haut fonctionnaire japonais Société Famille 15.01.2020

The Japanese term also refers to the people who exhibit the phenomenon. Saitō, a professor at Tsukuba University, has been studying hikikomori for decades, and it was he who introduced the term and who brought the subject to wide public attention in a book. And unlike homeless people, for example, these social recluses generally live with their parents and do not have to worry about providing themselves with food or shelter.

Under these circumstances, many of them can be expected to continue their secluded lives as they get older. With this in mind, Saitō believes the hikikomori population could eventually top 10 million.

Over the years many have seen social withdrawal as a cause of criminal behavior, connecting the two in cases like the Niigata kidnapping and confinement of a young girl from to and the Kawasaki mass-stabbing incident in May But Saitō rejected this view, declaring there is extremely little correlation between withdrawal and crime.

In many of the cases where the media have referred to perpetrators as hikikomori, they were found to have a mental disorder and thus did not fit the definition. Saitō emphasized that the word hikikomori describes a state rather than an illness, and that the people in this state perform very little criminal activity. Saitō sees hikikomori as decent people who happen to find themselves in a difficult situation.

Japanese society has many problems, such as the lack of regular jobs , the steady rise in the average age of the population, and the trouble people have getting back into the labor force after having been forced to quit work to look after aged parents. One has to say it is not an easy society to live in. This drives them into a mental corner. As the situation drags on, it becomes difficult for people to return to participation in the wider world just through their own efforts.

They may imagine that they were abused even though they were not, and their grievances against their family can easily lead to violence. Saitō said that it was necessary for parents to be adamant in rejecting violence by hikikomori. And if violence occurs, they must carry out their warning that very day. An International Issue The hikikomori issue is no longer faced by Japan alone. There are estimated to be some , of these social recluses in South Korea, and a support for the families of such people has now been established in Italy.

It is emerging as a problem in family-centered societies where young adults are continuing to live with their parents through their twenties and sometimes beyond. In countries with a strong sense of individualism like the United States and Britain, where it is uncommon for grown-up children to live with their parents, the hikikomori problem is relatively small-scale, but there are many homeless young people.

In Japan, by contrast, there are fewer than 10, Social Exclusion There is a deep-rooted belief in Japan that people with disabilities and other such difficulties should be isolated from the rest of society. Elsewhere around the world, the trend since the s has been to minimize institutionalization of people with impairments.

You could say our country is peculiarly backward in this respect. Seeking Solutions So what should the family of a hikikomori do? Saitō introduced the case of a year-old man who had been withdrawn from society for five years. After attending counseling, his parents stopped giving him pep talks or otherwise intervening at all. This led to a gradual improvement in family relations. Four months later, he finally went to see a doctor and began going to a hikikomori day-care facility, where he became friendly with other gaming fans.

Two years after his first visit to the doctor, he started taking courses at a correspondence high school, and he also attended all the physical classroom sessions. His marks were good, and his condition is now stable.

Saitō offered highlights of the approach to hikikomori that he has derived from his experience: Family members are the first line of support for the affected individual, so they should consult with a psychiatrist and receive counseling. Then, he says, they should establish an external link, such as by joining a support group for families with hikikomori.

While they continue to attend counseling, family members can improve their ability to engage with the recluse by consulting with regional hikikomori centers, mental health and welfare centers, or private support groups. If parents take these steps, Saitō has found that the hikikomori will start to change gradually.

Saitō also addressed the issue of aging. It is important, he noted, for parents with shut-in middle-aged offspring to draw up a lifetime financial plan for them so they can get by after the parents are gone. Parents should not fear embarrassment or be concerned about appearances as they look at the options, including disability pensions or other forms of public assistance for their children. Unfortunately, the Japanese government shows no sign of developing substantive policies or systems related to the aging of hikikomori, failing to see the urgency of the problem.

So it is imperative, Saitō said, for families to make their own preparations. Social withdrawal may start with a reluctance to go outside in reaction to a small matter.

But if the condition persists for an extended period, it can lead to depression, fear of people, sleep-wake inversion, and other psychiatric conditions. Saitō stressed that solutions depend on hikikomori affirmatively recognizing their own condition. He concluded by noting that going back to school or getting a job should not necessarily be seen as the ultimate goal.

Originally published in Japanese on August 30,

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