Breaking the Narrative Episode 92: The Other Half of the Japanese Population Decline, the Hikkikomori


Good day everyone. The subject we are approaching here may seem like it’s a more broad aspect of what has happened to Japan’s native population, but as with most things, you will soon find that that this phenomenon happens more often to men than women. That is the status of “Hikikomori” (引きこもり)Which could be translated to “severe recluse.” Why am I deciding to cover this particular status here? Well, not only is it relevant to the mental health of men but it is relevant to those of us who perform a large majority of our works and advocacy through the internet. As such, we need to recognize the signs of this condition, its detriments, and how it can be worked through because if we can’t help ourselves or our immediate families, then who can we genuinely help when it comes to men’s issues overall?

So what classifies one as a hikikomori? Contrary to popular belief, its not pure restriction to one’s personal habitat. Hikikomori leave their homes for important purposes such as personal physical health treatment and obtaining essential items such as food and perhaps personal desires such as entertainment. However, they keep human interaction to an absolute minimum, so in essence it is a case of social reclusivity. The idea of the outside world isn’t what frightens them. Its people and society as a whole.  Specifically, this is another reaction to the heightened pressures of Japanese work/life balance that have been prevalent for the bulk of recent history.  Now that we know the specifics of this condition, Let’s Hammer This In!

To begin, when did this condition start to form in the psyche of Japanese natives? A therapist by the name of Saito Tamaki first wrote an extensive book on the subject in 1998, so as such the term has to predate that point. My best educated guess in lieu of other reliable information estimates that the condition could be traced back into the early to mid 1980’s with the demonization of the term “otaku” (おたく)and growth of the geeky anime fan. This can be connected to the “othering” of those with mostly unpopular and niche interests whatsoever. As such, this isn’t necessarily a uniquely Japanese issue – its a human issue. This reinforces the importance of this to us because quite frankly, it’s not something that will start happening to our society – it already is. I think it would be safe to say most MGTOW are likely also hikikomori due to their mostly justified distrust and disdain of contemporary society.

In Japanese society, interestingly enough, this phenomenon starts at home with pressure from parents (primarily mothers) to always aim high, become the best students with the best grades to go to the best schools. It’s the argument for going to universities here in the west amped up to 11. This trait stems from the inherent pressure in Japan’s society to aim for excellence in all things, the perfectionism of zen buddhism.  This is one of the many reasons I detest the failed utopian concepts of perfectionism because not only do I see the ironic flaws within, but the damage those flaws wreak upon the human psyche.  Still, as I said, even we in the West do have some obsession over hierarchical status… have to get into that Ivy League School, have to have the job in STEM, have to become a CEO.  There is one very obvious flaw in this mode of thinking: not everyone can be the leader.

Does this mean get a degree in gender studies and all that? Gods no! This is another call to go into trades if you have the talent for it. Plumbers, electricians, contractors, a lot of these broader base infrastructural jobs are currently in need of workers because of the lie that university is the end-all-be-all of what to strive for.  There is merit to living a more humble life that has very little to do with things such as religion, primarily when it comes to stress levels in life and obtaining such a healthy work/life balance that the lifestyle of a hikikomori is less appealing to fall into. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen for such. I’m merely saying its less likely.

The area to really watch out for when it comes to developing into a hikikomori is the area of those who are NEETs. NEET is an acronym that is explained as Not in Education, Employment, or Training. I don’t believe I have to go into specifics on how this develops into the hermitage state of a hikikomori. It is my understanding that quite a few who become full professional YouTubers are also susceptible to this condition due to the amounts of time taken for editing videos, recording, and several other steps involved in marketing as a one-man small business.

Now that we’ve covered the methods and various reasons why this phenomenon happens, how wide spread is it?  Well a nickname for the demographic is the “Missing Million”. This is due to the fact that some of the more recent census-based studies have determined at least 700,000 people have openly identified themselves as hikikomori, but with that consideration there is likely near another half a million people in denial, considering Japan’s native population AND inherent need to not be considered complete outcasts.  This is where there is a very bizarre shift in knowledge here. Namely, in the very collectivist core of the Japanese mindset, as opposed to individualist core of the American mindset in particular. Granted, we’ve all in recent times been pushing back against the nature of pure collectivism.

So what leads me to believe this is a particularly masculine issue for Japan?  Because even a flawed feminist mouthpiece such as the BBC words it as such. Granted, their concern over it is likely the same gynocentric drivel as always whenever men check out of their role of ‘provider for women.’ Feminists don’t care so much that men are suffering, but what impact their response to it will have on women.

That, and in both Japanese society and ours there is a major concern over false accusations of sexual violence, especially in the form of ‘rape.’  Yeah, we are having this “metoo” nonsense here as well.  These feminist bigots keep wondering why men ‘check out’ and refuse to give them the D when at every turn there is a demonization of healthy sexual desires. Its a very contradictory and hypocritical state of being and is an obvious result of some of these obsessions over sexual puritanism. Add to that the extremes that the National Police Agency of Japan gets with their enforcement, especially considering that they have an insanely high conviction rate, and it’s no wonder that most men in Japan don’t even want to take a chance of getting falsely accused, as it’s doubly prevalent there than it is here.

And they don’t have an Innocence Project to help solve those problems.

The other reason why its primarily men that become more long lived hikikomori is the same story as it always is. Women are more valued. This can be seen with the countless courses tailored to bringing women back into society. Be a man who is like this, and you are more likely to just be seen as trash, and forgotten, just like happens with homelessness. Yes, I’ve stated in the past about Japan’s immunity to social justice arguments to a point. However, I have revealed that there is also a gynocentric core in its societal structure, just like any other. The main difference here is that Japanese don’t necessarily deny the existence of this human aspect. This is also reinforced by Japan’s obsession with ‘cuteness’ and ‘kawaii culture but that is for another time.

So how do we solve this issue and help make a society where men can live freely? That is is something that I wish I could answer. This is because the hikikomori mindset is in many ways linked to the “Black Pill” concept that Alison has previously mentioned in the Negative Sum video series.  If there is any solace, it’s that the lifestyle is ultimately unsustainable, due to our need as humans for interaction. This is so, even if so many men get called things like ‘incels’ and browbeaten for not being the ultimate “SuperMan” or something ridiculous like that, especially when dealing with ‘fujoshi’ or the “rotten women.”  (In before cries of Japanese misogyny.)

What’s even more important of a question is, does this even need to be solved? I can’t say. I’m not versed enough in human psychology to answer that. I would trust this to be approached better by other Badgers.  This is where I’m going to suggest discussion in the comments.

Finally, I leave you with this: If you know someone like this, the best thing you can try to do is be open to them.  Let them come to you and don’t force them, otherwise they’ll seclude themselves even more.

Now then, considering what happened with the site failure that happened earlier this month and ICMI just around the corner I’m going to be taking two weeks off to make sure all of my articles thus far are properly backed up and give Hannah the opening to concentrate on the trip as opposed to editing the articles.  See you all again at the beginning of August and Please Remember to Game Freely!

Alex Tinsley
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About the author

Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.

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    • ….where did you get that information? I was saying that the Badgers would be BUSY with ICMI and the meetups.

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