Flowers in Japan

Drawing out hikikomori: government youth outreach program a noble but narrow path

Mainichi, 19 April 2009

Recently, I have been receiving an increasing number of requests for lectures on the topic of “hikikomori,” or social withdrawal — a term used to refer to the phenomenon itself, as well as the people who demonstrate its symptoms. Not only have the number of lectures been growing, but the number of participants who gather for these talks have been significant; audiences around 100 to 200 are not uncommon.

On January 15, close to 500 people attended a lecture I gave, sponsored by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Office for Youth Affairs and Public Safety. Since my lectures only offer practical strategies for dealing with hikikomori, it’s highly unlikely that anyone would attend them for the purpose of mere educational enrichment or entertainment. I imagine that most of the participants are families of hikikomori.

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