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Reactivating the Self by Listening to the HeartIzumiya Kanji

In this age of plenty, a growing number of people are troubled by a loss of purpose and cannot even say what they want or like. Psychiatrist Izumiya Kanji explores the background to this problem and stresses the importance of listening to one’s own heart.

Japan to Reinforce Efforts to Encourage Recluses to Work (News)

Tokyo, Jan. 12 (Jiji Press)—Japan will strengthen efforts in fiscal 2018 to encourage people who tend to isolate themselves from society to enter the workforce. The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare will provide financial assistance to municipalities that offer support to such social recluses, known as hikikomori, through visits to their homes. The government's budget plan for the fisca…

Japan Eyes First Survey on Middle-Aged Social Recluses (News)

Tokyo, Jan. 7 (Jiji Press)—The Japanese government plans to conduct in fiscal 2018 its first nationwide survey on middle-agers who are shutting themselves in their homes. The survey will cover randomly picked 5,000 households with members aged between 40 and 59 to estimate the total number of middle-aged recluses in Japan. The government also hopes to know how frequently those people go out,…

A Vision of the Savannah: Finding a Way Back into Japanese SocietyIshizaki Morito

In the second of two interviews with former hikikomori, Maruyama Yasuhiko talks about how he struggled unsuccessfully to be “normal” until a vision of wild animals on an African savannah gave him a new view of life.

The Underground World: Living in Withdrawal from SocietyIshizaki Morito

In the first of two interviews with former hikikomori who later rejoined society, Hayashi Kyōko describes the “underground world” of self-doubt and self-blame she found herself in and how changing her thinking about life has helped her.

Islands of Solitude: A Psychiatrist’s View of the “Hikikomori”Sekiguchi Hiroshi

Some estimate that up to 1 million people have withdrawn from society in Japan and are living holed up in their rooms. A psychiatrist who has worked with these recluses and their families for many years presents a first-hand view of what their lives are really like.

Young Japanese Adults Leave Home Less Frequently Than Seniors: Survey (News)

Tokyo, Oct. 16 (Jiji Press)—Japanese people in their twenties leave their homes less frequently than those in their seventies, a recent mobility survey has shown. The survey, conducted by East Japan Marketing & Communications Inc., also showed that over 60% of respondents in their twenties admit having a tendency to isolate themselves from society. "They can now do shopping and many othe…

“Hikikomori”: Social Recluses in the Shadows of an Aging JapanIshikawa Kiyoshi

The phenomenon of hikikomori—long-term social withdrawal—came to the fore as an issue involving young Japanese in the late 1990s. The situation is becoming even more serious as the recluses advance in age.

Alexithymia: The Emotional Disconnect Behind the Mask of NormalcySaitō Satoru

Psychiatrist Saitō Satoru discusses a mental disorder in which individuals become incapable of identifying or expressing their own emotions as they force themselves to appear normal before others. He draws on both his personal clinical experience and the narrative of the award-winning novel Konbini ningen by Murata Sayaka.

A Growing Demographic: The Isolated and Non-employedGenda Yūji

Despite indications that Japan may finally be heading for an economic recovery, one serious malady continues to afflict the country: a rapidly increasing population of unmarried and unemployed people aged 20 to 59. Professor Genda Yūji of the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Social Science, who introduced the concept of the “Solitary Non-Employed Person,” sounds the alarm.

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