Hikikomori – Individual problem
The term “isolation” is a common term when discussing Japanese history and society. Japan has been secluded from the world until 1858. and Commodore Perry’s entrance. The isolation policy is nothing more than a selfish manner of power preservation by the shogunal powers at the time. This complex was refined into a complex in time, leaving all countries around them to look at Japan as a unique land whose culture is also one of the kind. The seclusion preserved tradition, but made a lot of problems for the society and national identity. One thing that also survived is collectivism, a Confucian heritage, yet it could prove to be a dangerous adversary. The below discussed problem and the topic of this entire text, will be the Hikikomori, in a way produced by this collectivism, with a heavy individual spicing.
Some would argue that this is not true, that the Japanese never lost their identity. To that I respond with a question: What was Japan like during the Meiji reform? During the wars with China and Russia? Second World war? Japan was narrow sighted and constantly imitating the Western powers, with a complex of superiority among the Asian cultures, but conforms in front of the West. Japan needs to find her place by herself, without causing damage to her society that is drenched already in a myriad of social problems. This is the impression I feel – the steamrolling of everything that is not acceptable to the collective conscience sometimes terrifies me.
One of the burning problems are the “Hikikomories”, almost one million of them exist in Japan. At first teenagers, then the age bar only moved up. Many experts look at this as a social disorder, since all of those people are mentally healthy and capable, so this “syndrome” is not a psychological disorder.
What is a Hikikomori?
It is a being that withdraws itself from social life into his bedroom to surf the net, read manga and watch anime or some such program. They constantly blame someone/something for their failures in life, loss of ambition and interest. Let’s say that this is true – Japanese society and the educational system do inflict heavy pressure, but most of the hikikomories come from well situated families. They are academy/university graduates so clearly they are not disturbed. I say “arrogance”.
Let’s look at this from another angle – there are countries in the world that have a low life standard, where wages are low and youth unemployment exceeds 50%. Many people with university degrees work as simple workers and dig trenches or canals, where there is a constant struggle for life and job improvement in an environment plagued by all sorts of problems – class gaps in both power and wealth, disease and the rising number of unemployed young people. What should they do? Become lazy hikikomories and display disrespect to their hardworking parents?
No, they fight. Japanese youth must break free and start reforms or look at the other countries, poor and in transition, where young people fight to survive though many fail in that struggle. The most disturbing fact is that the “hikikomori plague” is rapidly spreading across the world and that the statement how it is unique to Japan will get old. The biggest numbers are found in Western highly developed countries while everywhere else their number is small or nonexistent.
The hikikomori sickness is first and foremost an individual problem and after it a national one. Japanese society suffers from blind obedience and destructive collectivism. To that it must respond because times keep changing and old responses to new problems will eventually backfire, causing severe damage. This is not hate speech, to make it clear; this is a brief lookout to the rising number of social problems in Japan: identity loss hidden behind clever claims of “adjusting”, hikikomori, high suicide figures, a huge number of divorces in later ages, dwindling population and alienation of people, even in their own families. These are also the problems of many developed nations, but Japan has a few extra. Japan needs to remedy them before it becomes too late.
DISCLAIMER: Only an opinion, not intended to offend anyone or anything.