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Japanese gov't survey finds nearly 1.5 million living as recluses

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The most common reason respondents gave for their social withdrawal was "quitting jobs."

At least now they don't need to work overtime and forced to have drink with their co-worker after works.

https://japantoday.com/category/crime/illegal-amounts-of-overtime-going-on-at-37-percent-of-japanese-companies-in-government-inspections

"It seems that some people happened to meet our definition of hikikomori because they were discouraged from going outside by Covid and so ended up having less contact with society," Cabinet Office official Koji Naito told AFP on Wednesday.

They just obeyed two of three C for pandemic which are avoid crowded places, and avoid close-contact. That's how they survived Covid.

https://www.japan.go.jp/kizuna/2020/avoiding_the_three_cs.html

-16 ( +11 / -27 )

I will be honest, I had never really heard of shut-ins like this until I moved to Japan. It is very sad that such a large number of people have either been bullied, or suffer from mental illness that does not allow them to take part in everyday society. This is also a huge burden on their parents/families, and in the long run all of society.

22 ( +29 / -7 )

I wonder what the older ones do for money? Simply signing on to the dole isn't common or easy in Japan.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

What's wrong with people opting out of the rat race? "Hikikomori range from people who only go out to shop for groceries or to pursue hobbies" How dare people enjoy their life.

13 ( +30 / -17 )

Extremely difficult to know whether these numbers are accurate or not. Personally speaking, and from experience of seeing how statistics are played with here in Japan to create a "point" I would guess they are low, as it portrays a bad image for the government.

Working age, could mean anyone from the age of 18 to at least 65, and 1.5 million is a low estimate considering there is no data showing how the information was collected. My household usually gets the "koksei chosa" Government Survey and there have been a few times we never filled it out. Seemed like a waste of time at the time, and even now the same.

The government expects a "hikikomori" to fill these out? I dont think so, they have to leave the house to mail it!

12 ( +19 / -7 )

Can you blame them? The societal pressure to conform is disgusting.

-3 ( +30 / -33 )

The most common reason respondents gave for their social withdrawal was "quitting jobs."

Some abroad have found greater freedom abroad during "The Great Resignation".

Of course there is the question of having the independent means of the society having an adequate social safety net to support such decisions.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

And everyone of them has an enabler. This is the problem.

-19 ( +10 / -29 )

You don't even have to leave your house to feel hopeless these days. You have SM influencers telling you what normal should look like (and it's always their perfect side shown). You fire up youtube and the recommended links all says '10 things you're doing wrong with x...', or what you're missing out on...blah, blah.

The worst thing is we gave them our personal info via facebook etc. so they can build a profile of us, so as to make us all feel insecure, and that only buying trinkets will make us whole again.

It's sickening, Japan is the worst place because there's so much travelling involved, sitting on trains, planes...all you can do is social media while waiting and travelling.

-5 ( +15 / -20 )

Hikikomori range from people who only go out to shop for groceries or to pursue hobbies

Darn, I feel attacked since this is literally what I'm doing right now. I don't care about getting along with my boring "fake" co-workers and I tend to just ignore all the bad mouthing they say behind my back for not attending nomikais. I'd much rather enjoy my time with my not so many but reliable friends, families, and hobbies outside of work.

Reasons for retreating from the country's notoriously conformist and work-focused society range from unemployment to depression or bullying at school or in the workplace.

I don't blame them at all. I am mastering the art of ignoring so that I can focus on more important things in life.

15 ( +28 / -13 )

Hikikomori range from people who only go out to shop for groceries or to pursue hobbies

Darn, I feel attacked since this is literally what I'm doing right now. I don't care about getting along with my boring "fake" co-workers and I tend to just ignore all the bad mouthing they say behind my back for not attending nomikais. I'd much rather enjoy my time with my not so many but reliable friends, families, and hobbies outside of work.

Same! In our case, we started to be recluses when the pandemic hit. We still host BBQs in our backyard with friends and family, so does that count?

Reasons for retreating from the country's notoriously conformist and work-focused society range from unemployment to depression or bullying at school or in the workplace.

I don't blame them at all. I am mastering the art of ignoring so that I can focus on more important things in life.

Same. Life is too short.

6 ( +20 / -14 )

Are they and their families happy or content? By happy I mean not comparing their condition with what the rest of society deems happy. Are they meeting financial and medical needs? If they could work from home, would they be willing to start employment? Start asking these questions next.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Haha, you’ll become soon too, without jobs, that are replaced by technology, without money due to unhealthy hyper inflation driven by energy prices, and of course when you are taken away your cars, commuting and holiday flight trips by the greenies and eco fascists. Then you’ll envy them as they are already trained and get used to that new lifestyle.

-13 ( +3 / -16 )

""Nearly 1.5 million working-age people in Japan are social recluses, according to a new government survey, with a fifth citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the main reason for their withdrawal.""

Because NO ONE IS LISTENING, and please DO NOT blame COVID, this has been goin on for many years before COVID.

15 ( +21 / -6 )

It doesnt take a genius to work out that based on the nature of this investigation the real nunbers are probably much higher

0 ( +9 / -9 )

If when the government puts "SOCIETY FIRST " ahead of being first, second, or third economic power in the world only then these social problems will improve and get the proper care they badly need.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

If they are social recluses how did they find them?

It'd be appropriate to list them by age group. It's easy to understand how older people become reclusive due to having litle money and friends. However, if a large percentage of these recluses are in the 20-30 age bracket it related to a whole different set of society problems.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Who wouldn’t want to retreat from a society that is “notoriously conformist” and “work-focused”?

1 ( +13 / -12 )

Hmm I’m also a hikikomori I only go to work and groceries otherwise I’m at home binge watching YouTube and playing online pc games until need to go back to work.

Hard to find friends in Japan when you’re a gaijin.

-3 ( +16 / -19 )

I blame the work-centric society, where people life is ruled by their jobs. But there are other reasons than may also be important.

You may notice that to go out is expensive. Sure you can go walking, but going to the cinema or to eat out is an expensive activity for the half of the population that lives with part time contracts.

Friendship is not an important asset in Japan. Young kids and teenagers develop friendship somewhat as a commodity, something convenient in the school/uni. But that ends when having a family and to be working for the rest of your life become the main purpose of life.

Human contact is not important in this culture. It's considered a burden most of the time. Even family relationships are quite distant compared to other cultures. This feeling of "social distance" is imbedded into kids since their kindergarten years, it has been for generations.
-7 ( +18 / -25 )

2% is quite a lot. Whether it’s a school or workplace, I hope they can find another place they can comfortably fit in. Supporting to easily find there multiple alternative places is required.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Teaching social, communicative skills are inherently missing from the Japanese education system.

They just churn out robots where lateral thinking is frowned upon. Just sit there, listen, shut up and above all don't ask questions.

A friend's son, (6 yrs old) is being tutored in English, Chinese and will now be improving his Japanese at elementary school. Say goodnight to a childhood.

-5 ( +14 / -19 )

I don't care about getting along with my boring "fake" co-workers and I tend to just ignore all the bad mouthing they say behind my back for not attending nomikais. I'd much rather enjoy my time with my not so many but reliable friends, families, and hobbies outside of work.

Indeed. I'm the same. I certainly give them a chance but life is to short to get drunk with people who aren't your friends, after sitting with them 5 days a week in work.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Based on above definition, I just learned that I am hikikomori.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Some very insightful comments above. I agree these numbers seem far too low for a country that generally doesn't go outside - even in their own backyards. If they go out it's only for a task.

For the younger ones, sometimes they are coddled so much by their parents they have no idea how to stand up for themselves and accept that they are failures or whatever they were bulied about. I don't get the gaming culture at all. This is probably another big reason youth (and the adult-children) stay in some fake world rather than join the real one.

The middle-aged ones probably couldn't take their horrendous work schedules and pressure. I don't blame them, but you can't just sit at home and sulk. You've got to get out there and make changes for yourself. Easier said than done, I know. This is where real friendships and relationships could help with the mentral trauma because seeing a thereapist just isn't as widespread here.

It is just an awuful cycle of conformity, pressure, and shame. All ages suffer from it and only the strong (brainwashed or confident?) make it out. Life doesn't have to be a task. Move out of the city and find some solace in the countryside.

4 ( +11 / -7 )

Might not be the best choice of picture. Hikikomori are living the way they want to, and may typically be happier than the rest of Japan. Possibly much happier.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

Being hikikomori is probably a better choice than being at work all the time and doing all those things that you don't want to do, and pleasing people that you don't like. And trust me, there are probably at least 10 million of the latter group living in Japan right now.

-7 ( +12 / -19 )

I still have bad dreams about my employment at a university in Japan. Back then, all the "harmony" with my fellow department members put me into a deep depression.

Japanese have succeeded in creating a society that is increasingly unlivable - even for themselves.

1 ( +19 / -18 )

Amazing article! Masterpiece.

Start with the most dismal image we can find. No lights, no heat, dark and dank.

After that, let's label them. We'll put a stigma on them and control the narrative of their lives.

How about luring the mouse out of the wall with some cheese? By cheese, I mean money, and positive reasons to come out of the house. We could make things more affordable perhaps.

No, no, that's not the way to go. It's better to lump them all together and refer to them as social deplorables. Otaku-types, Hikikomori types. No woman in her right mind should talk with them. Japanese police shut down local haunts where they get together to socialize. Result: They went home. Where are all the bosozoku? They stayed home as police cracked down on them gathering.

Not going to bash Japan in this post. Just want to point out that this article is very lopsided and disingenuously incomplete.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Can you blame them? The societal pressure to conform is disgusting.

Spot on! Who wants to leave the house and even take part in small jobs to support themselves if the whole work environment is so suffocating?

I started working in 100% japanese companies from day 1 because I believed I didn't need to look for international companies to start my life here as I already spoke advanced japanese (JLPT N1) before even arriving in Japan.

Week 1. Everyone attends the boring morning "chourei" while standing up like a military formation, the bell rings, and as I proceed to buy a canned coffee from the vending machine in the corridor and head to my desk a stranger comes up to me like "what are you doing?? work has started!!".

Never again.

3 ( +14 / -11 )

the good news is that even Hikkikomori now can actually earn money and work from home or become youtubers (although I don't know if their channels would be interesting... BUT the technology exists for many people to work from home. After all, during the pandemic, we were all asked to become Hikkikomori so I would like to think the social stigma surrounding them might have leveled off a bit?

Anyway, one way for them to become productive members of society is for the gov to launch online courses on how to use computers and maybe introduce the recluses to companies that can hire them to do IT work freelance.

That way, they are still contributing to society while never leaving their rooms.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Reasons for retreating from the country's notoriously conformist and work-focused society range from unemployment to depression or bullying at school or in the workplace.

Actually, the reasons for retreating are already listed in this first part of this sentence: the country's notoriously conformist and work-focused society. It's oppressive and exhausting to constantly have to shove your personality and opinions in a silent box; who wants to participate in a society that doesn't let you be yourself?

-6 ( +10 / -16 )

The advent of the Internet, affordable housing and government subsidies have made a life of seclusion possible. Good for people who choose not to join the rat race. I don't see this as a "problem". Of course, bullying etc. is. That said, a life of comfortable seclusion isn't, providing one has a roof over their heads, Internet service and 3 meals a day. Japan has an estimated 3,500 homeless among a population of 125 million. Canada, my home and native land, has an estimated 225,000 among a population of 40 million. I'm sure most of those would love to be "hikkikomori"

6 ( +9 / -3 )

@nosuke

I got plenty of female friends but not many male Japanese ones as they too like staying in to play games.

Could be a link there ?

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Some of you still do not quite understand the meaning of hikikomori…; most of these people are incapable of interacting with other human beings and their lives are filled with sadness and constant fear…;

they know that they’re not actually living their lives, they’re just breathing and they have to carry that cross twenty four seven…;

they want to get out of that deep, dark hole, but they’ll just wait for tomorrow… and the day after tomorrow… and the next day… and the next day… and the next day… and the next…;

first, we need to understand them and we can’t be judgmental if we truly wanna help them.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

CarlosTakanakanaToday  07:19 am JST

What's wrong with people opting out of the rat race? "Hikikomori range from people who only go out to shop for groceries or to pursue hobbies" How dare people enjoy their life.

Who's paying for them to enjoy their lives?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@nosuke

I got plenty of female friends but not many male Japanese ones as they too like staying in to play games.

having plentiful of girlfriends is nice but mendokusai to have to juggle through all them. Juggling dates. For gamers it would be nice to have gaming girls as friends that like to have a LAN party

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And another reason to add to the list of why folks aren't making babies.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@nosuke

Practice makes perfect

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So over 200,000 of these say it’s because of Covid, no doubt from the fear mongering by the TV and the gutter press.

This has been a problem in Japanese for decades made worse by recent events.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

An article appearing in Bungei Shunju magazine around 1998 gave the national figure at 800,000 recluses, so if the same criteria is utilized to define such people, the number has effectively doubled in two and a half decades.

Other articles I've seen talked about how many adult recluses were a major drain on their elderly parents' pensions, and wondered how they will support themselves after their parents die.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hard to find friends in Japan when you’re a gaijin.

Actually this might only apply if you live in Tokyo/Osaka bubble.

If you have the opportunity, I would recommend living at any of the amazing japanese capitals, especially those located many hours away from any big hub (hence Ibaraki, Gifu, Nara, Wakayama etc. dont apply as everyone leaves for the big city on weekends).

Try living in Toyama, Tottori, Matsuyama, etc. where people actually study, work and live their lives there, from Week 1 you'll find surrounded by the small group of foreigners inviting you to everywhere (50 to a 100 known faces) and in case you're single, you can "score" or just get to know a different japanese (preferably girl) every single week simply by being around.

But yes, should have a breakdown in these hikikomori numbers by prefecture.

Tokyo area must be the loneliest place in the whole country.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Hard to find friends in Japan when you’re a gaijin.

Can't say that's ever been a problem.

Try living in Toyama, Tottori, Matsuyama, etc. where people actually study, work and live their lives there, from Week 1 you'll find surrounded by the small group of foreigners inviting you to everywhere

I lived in Toyama for 4 years (a long time ago now..); great place, lovely people, made lots of friends, still in touch with several of them, only a couple were foreigners.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Too many opportunities to make friends in Tokyo.

One of the biggest problems is turning down requests to meet up because of previous commitments with other groups of friends.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I don’t really need friends, I spend almost all my time with my partner, she’s great fun and sweetly pretty.

Easy enough to make chums where I reside, soooo many foreigners and friendly locals, it’s marvelous. When I was in the countryside for 20 years I only made a handful of friends and only a couple of which I remain in contact with. It was very isolated there, mostly elderly people.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Not making friends is not the cause of people living reclusive lives. There are bigger issues causing it and probably there are many from fear of open spaces to lacking social skills to have interactions with other people.

These people need help but how to discover them and how to reach out to them.

Never had a problem forming relationships that have lasted decades.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I don’t really need friends, I spend almost all my time with my partner, she’s great fun and sweetly pretty.

Yeah, me too. In the U.K. most people stay home as it is anyways.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

no doubt from the fear mongering by the TV and the gutter press.

UK breakfast tv is not the best indeed.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

I can count more than 100 people who I consider to be friends. Regular communications. Activites together. Visits to homes. Many new friends in our new location.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I don’t really need friends,

Considering the social shift in the U.K. and the decline of the pub, thats not surprising at all. A "healthy" life style as defined in cyberspace focuses on creating an online presences that replaces the social skills needed to maintain friendships and people's interest in you. Just having PMA (positive mental attitude) is friends enough.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Just having PMA (positive mental attitude) is friends enough.

Indeed. Who could forget PMA (positive mental attitude)? PMA is all you need. ;)

4 ( +6 / -2 )

There is a very good reason why "Hikkikori" doesn't translate culturally -- because they ALLOW it here. Period.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

Unfortunately it's a cultural sickness, sick parents with poor social skills are responsible for raising up unskilled children that become as weird as their parents...

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Dear Non-Japanese posters regardless of having Japanese partners and kids.

No, You ain't Hikikomori . You, as foreigner, are living your lives in Japan, which could not be any easier than ordinary Japanese. If you were Hikikomori and you don't like it , at least, you would have decided to return your home long time ago. Non-interacting with Japanese does not make you Hikikomori. You are simply trying to live your most comfortable life here.

Legal status, language issues, cultural difference,...etc, you all are carrying heavier burdens than those Japanese who are defined to be suffering from Hikikomori syndrome if the word does not include any inborn defects.

No offense. I don't mean anything in particular.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Wow, just wow...

I think the number could easily be 3 or 4 times more. The excuse of COVID inflating the numbers is risible.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I wonder what the older ones do for money? Simply signing on to the dole isn't common or easy in Japan.

National pensions are small but enough if you live in an old, 1-room アパート. “Live”?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We are people sooooo negative? We can help fix this by installing a PMA mindset into the children at school and eliminating bullying and discrimination.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Dear Non-Japanese posters regardless of having Japanese partners and kids.

No, You ain't Hikikomori . You, as foreigner, are living your lives in Japan, which could not be any easier than ordinary Japanese. If you were Hikikomori and you don't like it , at least, you would have decided to return your home long time ago. Non-interacting with Japanese does not make you Hikikomori. You are simply trying to live your most comfortable life here.

Legal status, language issues, cultural difference,...etc, you all are carrying heavier burdens than those Japanese who are defined to be suffering from Hikikomori syndrome if the word does not include any inborn defects.

No offense. I don't mean anything in particular.

No offense taken kenny. It was a really nice thing to say and to show appreciation for the difficulties and hardships that many foreigners face that locals do not understand ( through no fault of their own)

Thank you for that really kind comment.

REI.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The biggest enablers of these recluses are the parents pandering to them.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This is not a problem exclusive to Japan. Japan has been dealing with the "lost generation" of the 1990s, and now the US is dealing with "lost generation" of 2007-2016. Look at what's happening over there. Millions of single, jobless, hopeless men are trapped in their parent's basements, stuck in a vicious cycle of binging content like their favorite YouTubers, Twitch streamers, donating any money they get to girls on OnlyFans, consuming too much pornography, communicating only with their Discord friends, posting on Reddit, never going outside, ect.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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