13 votes

Japan’s Extreme Recluses Already Faced Stigma. Now, After Knifings, They’re Feared.

7 comments

  1. [5]
    dubteedub Link
    This piece interested me as it seems these Hikikomori have a lot of similarities to incels in the United States and other Western countries. Namely, that the group are mostly men that live with...

    This piece interested me as it seems these Hikikomori have a lot of similarities to incels in the United States and other Western countries. Namely, that the group are mostly men that live with few connections to the real world, and instead revolve around entertainment and the internet. It also seems like there is some predilections towards violence inherent in both groups, as well as a significant broader mental health issue that needs to be addressed.

    Hikikomori are generally defined as adults who hole up in their parents’ or other relatives’ homes for six months or more, often confined to a single room. They do not work and rarely engage with the outside world, in many cases filling their days with television, the internet and video games. They cannot sustain meaningful relationships, often not even with the parents who physically and financially care for them. Some have lived in this state for years, or even decades.

    I was also blown away by the sheer scope of the Hikikomori issue in Japan.

    According to a government survey released in March, there are nearly 1.2 million people who identify as hikikomori — about one in every 60 Japanese age 15 to 64. But experts say that figure most likely undercounts the full scope of the problem.

    With a total population of 126 million people, that means that roughly 1% of the Japanese population is considered a Hikikomori.

    6 votes
    1. imperialismus Link Parent
      I think it's both unfair and inaccurate to compare shut-ins to incels. Incel-ism is a hateful ideology which inspires hatred and violence against specific groups. Hikikomori is not a life...

      I think it's both unfair and inaccurate to compare shut-ins to incels. Incel-ism is a hateful ideology which inspires hatred and violence against specific groups. Hikikomori is not a life philosophy or ideology, it's just a name for people who withdraw from society for any number of reasons.

      I'm not convinced there really is a "predilection towards violence" inherent to Hikikomori. The article says some studies find they may commit domestic violence more often, but it doesn't cite any of these studies, or say anything about overall prevalence of all kinds of violence among the group. (For one thing, any violence committed by a person who never leaves the home will be classified as domestic; the same is not true of more outgoing people, even if the overall numbers are similar.) On the other hand, everyone they interviewed said that violence committed by Hikikomori was relatively rare and was not really the big issue that needed to be addressed. And the overall point of the article is that stigma and demonization isn't really helping address anything.

      Overall, I don't think it's very helpful to draw a parallel between Western incels and Japanese shut-ins. Incels by definition believe in a hateful ideology. It's not unexpected that when you reduce women to subhumans, and blame them for all your problems, you are more likely to commit violence. But not all incels are shut-ins, in fact many of them desperately try to engage with the world in order to obtain the respect, sex or romance they desire. Hell, sometimes it even works, sometimes they gain acceptance and this causes them to abandon their previous bigotry. Whereas Hikikomori do not, as a group, hold any particular ideology or belief system that would drive them towards violence, but they do, as a group, actively shun (offline) society.

      If a big part of what's causing so many to not seek help for mental issues is shame, it seems not very productive to further demonize a group and liken them to an entirely different group that is defined by their hateful and violent ideology.

      16 votes
    2. [3]
      Bullmaestro Link Parent
      The hikikomori issue is a bit more complicated than that. Japanese society has a serious overworking problem. The typical salaryman there works stupidly long 80 hour weeks, mostly of unpaid...

      The hikikomori issue is a bit more complicated than that.

      Japanese society has a serious overworking problem. The typical salaryman there works stupidly long 80 hour weeks, mostly of unpaid overtime. A lot of this is down to managerial and social pressure to work hard and devote all your time. Despite government attempts to curb the practice, it's far more complicated than this. When the Japanese have their own word for death by overworking (karoshi), you know they have a massive problem.

      It's commonly believed that hikikomori become hermits as a rejection of the salaryman lifestyle.

      14 votes
      1. [2]
        alyaza Link Parent
        to say nothing of the massive, societal problem japan also has of there being intense pressure to succeed in schooling before you can even be competitive for a job in the first place, and the fact...

        Japanese society has a serious overworking problem. The typical salaryman there works stupidly long 80 hour weeks, mostly of unpaid overtime.

        to say nothing of the massive, societal problem japan also has of there being intense pressure to succeed in schooling before you can even be competitive for a job in the first place, and the fact that many current hikikomori were brought up during the lost decade and the (honestly, still ongoing) aftermath of that, wherein all that effort just to be competitive for work might be a pointless endeavor because it didn't guarantee you anything.

        8 votes
        1. Bullmaestro Link Parent
          Kinda similar to Western society if you ask me. Everyone is being pushed through university on the notion that a degree will guarantee you a job, when actually everybody having a degree will...

          Kinda similar to Western society if you ask me. Everyone is being pushed through university on the notion that a degree will guarantee you a job, when actually everybody having a degree will devalue the prestige of it.

          3 votes
  2. [2]
    DanBC Link
    I'm a bit curious about the [mental illness] tag. There's nothing to suggest these people are mentally ill. This is probably an example of the Linda Problem. Someone who doesn't conform to social...

    I'm a bit curious about the [mental illness] tag. There's nothing to suggest these people are mentally ill.

    This is probably an example of the Linda Problem. Someone who doesn't conform to social norms stabs someone. Is it more likely that they are violent, or violent and mentally ill? Basic math says it's more likely that they're violent.

    We see from research that mental illness alone isn't a predictor of violence. Substance misuse is, previous violence is, and either of these combined with untreated mental illness is, but mental illness alone is only a weak predictor.

    6 votes
    1. krg Link Parent
      Propensity for violence, substance abuse, and reclusion are considered maladjustments and fall under the "mental health" umbrella. I think it's useful to think of those issues as such since it...

      Propensity for violence, substance abuse, and reclusion are considered maladjustments and fall under the "mental health" umbrella. I think it's useful to think of those issues as such since it gives more of an incentive to work with the effected in a holistic way so that they can be integrated into society. Otherwise, you could just stamp "damaged goods" on an individual and ... ?

      2 votes