06 May 2005

My response to Delphiki's article on Hikikomori <p> It is so long winded that I decided it should probably also post it here as a blog entry: First, I want to say thank you for posting an article on the hikikomori.... Your analysis of the causes and behavior patterns of hikikomori, due in part to Japanese cultural influences, are pretty accurate based upon my own ten months of field research in Japan on this topic.... What I found in the field is that most hikikomori are socially crippled rather than mentally ill; contrary to what the BBC was reporting in 2000 with the ‘Japan’s Missing Million’ article.... On the one million hikikomori— I found that that estimate actually came originally from Doctor Saito Tamaki, the man who coined the word ‘hikikomori’ and subsequently published a dozen books on the subject since the mid 1990s. From there, that one million figure was quoted, re-quoted, and spread through the various media treatments on hikikomori reportage as it makes great headlines.... The Japanese Ministry of Health, in a survey done in 2000 on hikikomori, estimates the number is closer to 50,000 individuals; that is still quite a lot, but not 20% of the entire nation’s 13-18 year old Japanese male population that the one million figure would account for (see my paper on my blog for more depth on this). Your economic look at the effect of one million people missing from the workforce is prescient and I came to the same conclusion in my literary review I wrote on hikikomori back in 2002. For IF the one million Japanese people were NOT to join the workforce in the next ten years, and considering the graying of the Japanese population…well you’re right on that time bomb.... I’ve found that the hikikomori are actually the most extreme subset of a larger group called freeta (which also includes a group called ‘parasite singles’); young people who live at home well into their thirties and refuse to work in demanding career path jobs at corporations, but instead prefer low-pay positions as clerks in convenience stores and the like. </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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