OK, this is one more distraction from reading another Trump tweet, this time The Donald wanting to burn flag burners at the stake. Bear with me until the next four years are over.

Japan has an estimated 541,000 hikikomori, who are young people who avoid school, work, and interaction with anyone outside their families. This is 1.6% of 15-39 year olds in Japan, which makes it more than a fringe problem. Apparently the causes can vary, although social anxiety seems to be a common thread.

There is no single cause for the phenomenon. Hikikomori can stem from factors such as bullying at school or work, or pressure from parents or other family members to succeed in entrance examinations or job interviews.”


Japan has an aging society, so the country needs all of its young people to be out in the world doing productive things, not hiding out at home being cared for by elderly parents. The government is setting up counseling centers to try to lure the hikikomori out of their cocoons — right now without notable success. To access support services the hikikomori have to be willing to go out, which so far isn’t happening much. With some hikikomori reaching and surpassing age 40, the challenge of how to integrate someone into the work world who hasn’t left home in decades gets harder by the day.

If you were a government policy maker, would you rather worry about this or about Donald Trump? I’d rather the former. A little parent education might be in order, as someone has to maintain the cocoon for these afflicted young people. I can’t imagine my kids assuming they could stay in their childhood rooms past age 40 while I did all the necessary interacting with the world. “We love you” + “up and out” was our message, and I’m sure that will be the message for my grandchildren as well.

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