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Hikikomori - Trends & Truthful Reporting 2022/2/17 11:12
Hi All,

Most of my posts are about tourism - but one thing that I've found interesting as a teacher is mental health and how it manifests and is seen in Japan from a Western Perspective. It's probably fair to say that on mental health - many westerners may have a more negative view on how it is treated in Japan than what happens in their home country.

Probably the most commonly reported part of this is "Hikikomori" - or shut in's. I will say that this post is probably more geared towards people who are Japanese or who have lived in Japan and know more than me - specifically recently.

This post was inspired by an article that I read today (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-17/hikikomori-seiko-goto-japan/100...)

I guess some of the general questions I'm hoping to understand is the following:

(1) Is this topic commonly reported and/or potentially fetishized (aka - sensational journalism) in Japanese media as it often is in the west?

(2) Are the numbers of hikikomori increasing, reducing or staying the same over the past few decades?

(3) Many western media outlets blame hikikomori on Japan's strict expectation on conformity. Is this actually the case - or just an easy answer to a multi-faceted problem?

(4) Is there any awareness of the large amount of western articles that are written about hikikomori?

(5) Covid has really brought into the open the importance of mental health in my home country. When I was in Singapore in the earlier days of covid - it was totally swept under the rug and is only started to be noted. How has covid changes the regular Japanese persons view on mental health?

Sorry for the scatter gun approach to these questions. I'll try and be sensitive with my questions and answers AND KNOW THAT I DO NOT KNOW AS MUCH AS MANY ON THE FORUM ON THE TOPIC!
by mfedley  

Re: Hikikomori - Trends & Truthful Reporting 2022/2/18 03:04
For me, who is from an Asian country and have been living in Japan since 8, yes it is a general topic. That is why I knew a slang of hikidashiya. But articles I have seen are mostly about Hyogaki generation one rather than youngers like a guy in the linked article. To be honest, the guy looked so different from people I imagine as a Hikikomori people..

3) So I think employment system is also related for Hyogaki generation one. They wouldn't have got depressed and become hikikomori if they had had a chance to find a proper job.
by 8050 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Hikikomori - Trends & Truthful Reporting 2022/2/18 05:27
I hope I'm qualified to answer the question. I am a Japanese person belonging to an all-Japanese family living in Japan.

(1) Is this topic commonly reported and/or potentially fetishized (aka - sensational journalism) in Japanese media as it often is in the west?

I don't follow how the topic is treated in Western media (and I can only read Japanese and English), but in Japan, yes. It's a very serious problem with very few solutions.

(2) Are the numbers of hikikomori increasing, reducing or staying the same over the past few decades?

I don't know. I'm sure the statistics are out there, but I don't think that every single hikikomori is reported. At least, they never officially come to ask you if you or your family is hikikomori or not. You only report on your free will (mainly to ask for help).

(3) Many western media outlets blame hikikomori on Japan's strict expectation on conformity. Is this actually the case - or just an easy answer to a multi-faceted problem?

I don't know how it is reported in the West, but I don't necessarily think so. It may be one of the reasons for some people, but we occasionally see TV dramas, movies and discussion programs implying that every hikikomori is different.

(4) Is there any awareness of the large amount of western articles that are written about hikikomori?

Well, not exactly, but there are enough Japanese articles, so people don't really go and try to find foreign ones. But we do notice a significant amount of foreign movies on the theme, and there are actual foreign celebrities (such as musicians and perhaps writers) who hardly came out of their rooms, so I'm sure the Japanese people are aware that hikikomori is not unique to Japan/Japanese.

(5) Covid has really brought into the open the importance of mental health in my home country. When I was in Singapore in the earlier days of covid - it was totally swept under the rug and is only started to be noted. How has covid changes the regular Japanese persons view on mental health?

This is totally my personal opinion, but I wouldn't think that the pandemic has "changed the regular Japanese persons view on mental health". Of course, there is great awareness that the pandemic is affecting people's mental health in so many ways. But I wouldn't say "mental health" in general is seen in a different way than it was pre-Covid.

But, of course, for example, if someone I know or someone I see on-line is suffering from mental issues, now I would tell that person, "Maybe it's because of the pandemic. Since the pandemic, I've tried this and that. Maybe it would work for you too." And some people would be enlightened by that, while others may have different reasons.

Lastly, if I may add my opinion, I think that today you can stay being a hikikomori because you have the Internet. You can lock yourself and still communicate, shop, have food delivered, and even be paid for your work. (Remember that hikikomori is not the same thing as NEET.) Maybe in the old days, a person would have been living in the streets homeless instead of being locked in a room. I'm not saying that any of this is good or bad. I'm just laying out facts and opinions.

I hope it helps.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Hikikomori - Trends & Truthful Reporting 2022/2/18 05:48
(4) Is there any awareness of the large amount of western articles that are written about hikikomori?

I just realized that perhaps you meant, "Is there any awareness of the large amount of western articles that suggest hikikomori is unique to Japan?" If so, my answer is "not at all". I thought that many countries in the Americas and Europe are aware that lock-ins exist in their own countries.

By the way, whether it is a Japanese article or an English one, I feel that a great amount of them are mis-leading.

And if I may add, among the biggest issues concerning hikikomori today is the so-called "8050" (aging parents in their 80s having to look after their locked-in 50s, or locked-in 50s not being able to report the death of their 80s parents), and those people are much older than the "employment ice age" generation who are currently in their 40s.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Hikikomori - Trends & Truthful Reporting 2022/2/18 12:09
As for 2, if I understand correctly, it wasn't counted officially till some years ago. The government had counted just those under 40. As @Uco said, even officially counted number is not same as actual number. So increased or not is difficult to say, it is said potentially more and more hikikomori people exist though.

By the way, in today's Japan, sometimes the term hikikomori is used also for online workers, middle aged who take care of their aging parents, stay-at-home mums, and even people at a covid quarantine hotel.
by 8050 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Hikikomori - Trends & Truthful Reporting 2022/2/18 16:25
By the way, in today's Japan, sometimes the term hikikomori is used also for online workers, middle aged who take care of their aging parents, stay-at-home mums, and even people at a covid quarantine hotel.

I hope not to offend anyone, but I have to say that this is a bit misleading. Of course, the word "hikikomori" can be used metaphorically or jokingly, but it actually is supposed to mean people who have lock themselves indoors even if others encourage them to come out. When people call those at a covid quarantine hotel "hikikomori", they mean it jokingly. A real hikikomori wouldn't/can't travel out their homes all the way to a hotel. Also, hikikomori online-workers and middle-aged hikikomori caregivers wouldn't/can't try to go outdoors to socialize with random people. That's what the term means.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Hikikomori - Trends & Truthful Reporting 2022/2/18 18:43
Well, I am not such a troll who is trying to mislead :D I know what @Uco explained (I was not born yesterday), it is actually what I wanted to say (thanks for explanation in better English). I also understand hikikomori that OP means in this thread is original meaning.

But! Here is BBS, and not all readers are familiar with Japanese language. I just wanted to remind there are people who recognize the term as those workers and mums rather than original(? authentic?) hikikomori. I also wanted to say to people who think mental health means lock down in an institution that those workers and mums are not deserve to be so. 別に悪意はないでです ご理解下さいm(__)m
by 8050 (guest) rate this post as useful

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