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Sunday, April 28, 2013

An English translation of a Japanese bestseller on Hikikomori was published on March 1, 2013 by The University of Minnesota Press. The title is Hikikomori: Adolescence Without End. The author is Tamaki Saito, a clinical psychiatrist who has seen Hikikomori people for years.

Mr. Saito published the original work in 1998 and invented the concept of Shakaiteki Hikikomori. The book became a bestseller and made the public aware of withdrawn people.

According to the original book, the term Shakaiteki Hikikomori is a Japanese translation of a psychiatric term social withdrawal. As far as I read the index of the book*, the translator seems to use the term social withdrawal to describe Shakaiteki Hikikomori people.

Today we Japanese rarely use the term Shakaiteki Hikikomori. We simply say Hikikomori. The concept Shakaiteki Hikikomori excludes people who withdraw from society mainly because of mental disorders. But today, in many cases,  withdrawan people with mental disorders are not excluded from Hikikomori except for schizophrenia.

Mr. Jeffery Angles translated Saito's original work. He is an associate professor of Japanese literature, language and translation studies department of foreign language at Western Michigan University.

The University of Minnesota Press publishes another Saito's translation Beautiful Fighting Girl. The book is about otaku culture not Hikikomori.

* Sorry, I have not bought the translation yet.

Friday, July 20, 2012
One of the biggest hurdle for Hikikomori people to work is explaining Hikikomori period to recruiters.

In most cases job applicants are required to submit their resumes. They need to write their educational and career history. And If they receive an opportunity to attend a job interview, they need to explain their background.

But needless to say, most recruiters are unwilling to hire applicants who have the history of Hikikomori. That hinders Hikikomori people from getting a job. This may be a factor why Hikikomori population has been aging.

Some people, including specialists in helping Hikikomori people, give some advice on how to approach the problem.

As far as I know, many of them suggest Hikikomori people should explain they have blank period honestly but not explain they suffered from Hikikomori. Instead, it is better to explain, for example, they studied for some sort of qualification test, they helped their family business, etc.

Some suggest they change their background information slightly. For example, if a Hikikomori man has the experience of part time jobs, they suggest he explain his working period longer than in reality to fill his blank period. It may be unethical, but Hikikomori people may have few other choices to get a job.

In any case, Hikikomori people need to prepare to explain how they did in their Hikikomori period. From recruiters' point of view, it is natural to ask applicants about their blank period.
Monday, January 2, 2012
One Hikikomori man (then thirty-years-old) killed and wounded his family members and set fire to his house on April 17, 2010.

Takayuki Iwase lived in Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture, central Japan. He had withdrawn from society for 14 years.

His parents entrusted management of family finances to him. But he was gradually absorbed in Internet shopping and auctions. That led him to have about 3 million yen of debt. So, his father canceled a contract with internet service provider. He got angry and committed crimes. His father and a girl (then 1-years-old) were killed and other families who lived together with him, including his mother, were wounded.

He was arrested, and the case was taken to court. The disputed point was whether he was responsible for his actions, because he had mental health issues. Before the ruling, his lawyers requested experts to examine whether he had any mental health problems. The experts' view was that he had (1) autistic spectrum disorder (2) intellectual disability (3) shopaholic, and his lawyers asserted that the defendant had limited responsibility. On the other hand, prosecutors also requested another experts to examine his mental health problems, and experts concluded he was responsible. Based on the research result, prosecutors demanded life imprisonment.

In the end, he was sentenced to thirty years in prison at the first trial on December 7, 2011.The court ruled that the defendant had responsibility, because he had ability to behave in response to how his family members in front of him behaved, for example, he chased them who attempted to escape from him.

He filed an appeal against the decision on December 12, 2011.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Hikikomori Shien Soudanshi literary means Hikikomori support consultant.

HSS conduct various activities related to Hikikomori. For example, providing counselling for Hikikomori people and their parents, connecting Hikikomori people with appropriate faciliies, etc. HSS are also expected to work as resident experts at Hikikomori Regional Support Centers.

The qualification of HSS was established on April 2009. According to YOMIURI ONLINE, a Japanese news site, about 2,900 people had the qualification as at September 2011.

Hikikomori Shien Soudanshi Nintei Kyougikai, literary means HSS Association of Boards of Certification, provides correspondence courses and qualification examination. We need to complete them to possess the qualification of HSS. HSSNK consists of two organizations, Hikikomori KHJ Parents Association and The Development of the Next Generation Network Organization. HSSNK also trains Futoko Houmon Senmonnin, literary means specialist in visiting children and students.

HSSNK has been very active. Since September 2011 many branch offices of HSSNK have been established all across the country. Also in September 2011 it began to deliver classroom lectures in a professional school in addition to correspondence courses.


Hikikomori ya futoko shakaifukki no sasae ni. (2011 September 26). Retrieved September 26, 2011, from http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/hiroshima/news/20110925-OYT8T00756.htm
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
It may surprise you, but I began to work outside one or two years ago. Even now I sometimes work as a temporary worker (Arbeit in Japanese) . But I spend my most of time staying my house, so I don't overcome Hikikomori completely. I write this at this late because I want to avoid disclosing information that identifies me.

The main factor that caused me to work was supports by facilities for Hikikomori people. They had staff members who have information about workplaces that hire people like me. In some cases, I worked through the facilities and earned rewards.

All jobs were low-skilled ones, but I think they were suitable for my ability. As I had been unemployed for years, my basic job skills were deteriorated.

Before I worked, I was bother about what people think of me, because young males my age usually work as regular workers. But after I worked, I didn't worry about that. Instead, I tried to deliver good performances which correspond to wages.

But I had difficulties at work. I often failed to carry out my tasks. On the contrary, all colleagues of mine who were hired at the same time as me seemed to make a good job. Many of them were younger than me, but their job performance seemed to be better than me. Although I had basic job experience in preparation for this day, that hardly made sense. Unfortunately, I lost more and more confidence through the works. After I finished working, I share experience of failure with staff members of Hikikomori facilities and try to find the way how to avoid the same mistakes.