04 January 2005

Hikikomori are NOT Violent PART II: Blame the Press! <p> And yet, BOTH of these misrepresentations of violent hikikomori and being one million strong continue to float around the net and in the mass media. I really wish that someone in the media would actually do some research rather than rehashing inaccurate statements on hikikomori made over five years ago. Do you know why both of these fallacies continue to be propagates as discourse?... And lets be honest, youth who are secluded in their homes are hardly going to be able speak out against whatever the press decides to report about them.... were forwarding psychiatrist Tamaki Saito's theoretical estimates that between 500,000 to over 1,000,000 Japanese male youths aged fourteen to twenty years were suffering from the hikikomori condition as evidenced by their dropping out of active participation in society and sequestering themselves into the social safety of isolation in their rooms.... Media sources seem to be improperly analyzing the data and the scope of the problem, for if the variously quoted Saito statistics of 500,000 to 1.2 million male hikikomori shut-ins from the 14-20 age group is reasonably correct (Larimer 2001, Rees 2002, Secher 2002, Tolbert 2001), then the pervasiveness of hikikomori phenomenon in the Japanese population is disquieting.... Adding up all the males in the 14-20-age bracket elicits a total population of roughly 4.2 million males in that combined gender and age demographic in Japan. What this means, is if over 1 million Japanese aged 14-20 indeed suffer from hikikomori, then 20 percent of all adolescent males in Japan, and approximately 1 percent of the population, are abstaining from participation in Japanese social institutions! If Saito's number of 500,000 is even a remotely accurate appraisal, then Japanese society as a whole is in dire peril in the coming decades for as Saito points out: “I think it is dangerous for Japanese society because such people never work or pay tax,” he said.... (Watts 2000) If the outside observer were to accept Saito's assessment on the scope of the hikikomori problem in Japan today, it would mean that a notable proportion of the next generation of the Japanese workforce has already dropped out of the system and Japan can expect serious labor shortages as well as verging on a welfare state in order to support a half million non-productive members of society over the next fifty years. </p>

Michael Dziesinski

I'm a University of Hawaii PhD in Sociology discussing youth issues in Japanese society in this blog.

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