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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Interview with Kobayashi

Kobayashi thinks that Hikikomori people are stupid. They themselves and their parents are the one to be blamed. First, they refuse to face the reality. Second, the parents allowed them to be Hikikomori. The parents had failed to install right values into their childhood which had subsequently caused the withdrawn action of their children as their grew up.

She doesn't think that Hikikomori is common in Japan, at least she doesn't know any. Although Hikikomori is going to continue to be a problem, but then it would not be a threat to the society, for the society has enough normal people to contribute to it, and thus maintain its functionality.

In the same time, Kobayashi would believe that this phenomenon had always been there. It was the attention of the media that brought them to light.

Hikikomori people and their parents probably had grown up in an easy time, particularly post war, that they had no sense of appreciation of things, because things came too easy to them.

The school system could be strengthen, meanwhile Kobayashi sees people blaming each other when there is a problem.

Perceptions had changed, social values changed, the "western" individualistic values had came in, and Japanese people had took it in a surface value, "selective adaptation", which they incorporate only the idea of being individual, but rejected responsibility of being independent that comes along with individualism. The parents had allowed the children to stay with them in the same house until they are 30's to 40's.

The freedom of individualistic choices had caused the social perception to change, and being a hikikomori is not so much of a taboo these days, just the same way as being gay. People stood up to talk about their choices, and speak about their their conditions. And there why it had came into light. Kobayashi believed that the problem of Hikikomori had always been there, it is just people who chose to hide themselves. But as the influence/affluence of media, it became an issue as it is today.

Interestingly, when the Hikikomori people and the psychiatrist or clinical psychologist had blamed the issue at the cause of "community", Kobayashi thinks that it is because of the lost sense of traditional value of community, that had been overtaken by then sense of individualistic ideas but discounting the responsibility is the main cause of the problem.

In respond to the articles in Lancet Vol359, Watts pg.1131: Kobayashi agreed that Hikikomori is a product of "the affluence technology, and convenience of modern Japanese life". However, as when the blame shifted to "the pressure to conform in Japan", she thinks that was just not true, and people who had said that must be out of fashion. She thinks that the pressure to conform in Japan is not as much as 20 years back. Today, because of the adaptation of individualistic ideology, Japan had became more tolerate, and people are free to choose. For example, the Japanese used to work in a company after their graduation from a life-time. Therefor the pressure to conform to the value of the corporation was higher, and as well as could be seen. But in the modern days, people do not work for the same company for a life time anymore, they change job to seek better opportunities. So, there is less pressure to conform. She argued that the idea of Kudo had, "Here you have to be like other people and if you aren't then you feel a sense of loss, of shame, so you withdraw." she doesn't see this in the young ones, and she doesn't believe that that is exactly what is in their mind. It could be, but it only plays a minor aspect of it.

In respond to the claim that the young people currently in their twenties has extra burdens on them because of the demographic shift in Japan, so probably Hikikomori is a reflection of the insecurities of a society. Kobayashi does not agree that is what in the mind of the teens playing Hikikomori. She does not see and think that the young people had think thus far ahead, she believes that these young ones are caught up in the social level, or personal level as they were growing up.

Speaking about the idea of "love" (relationship of parents and children) is the essence of allowing Hikikomori to continue, Kobayashi strongly against it, and thinks that is "delusion of love" instead.

Coming from a city which treasured the traditional values more than other big cities, the social bonds and neighborhood support reflects the meaning of a society.
That is unique of Japanese, and good or bad depends on the direction of who is leading it. War was a good example of the negative aspect of a strong social-bond and neighborhood support when the direction was misled by people, and post-war rehabilitation of Japan was a good example of positive aspect of it, when all Japanese work hard together to rebuild the country. This can be seen in the fast economic recovery in Japan after war while compare with China.


Kobayashi also sees the lost of respect to their fathers in this new generation. While compare to 20 years before, fathers were being respected, and looked up to.

Judge on her experience in living in Japan, States and Hong Kong, she believes that Hikikomori happens everywhere, it is universal. It is certainly not a typical Japanese borne disease, but of all modern societies. She predicted that as China comes into her complacency in next 20 years, they will be certainly a problem of Hikikomori in the country.


Questions in discussion:

1. Freedom to exercise choice: We might thought that people has free will. But in fact, people might not have an equal chance to exercise choice.
Kobayashi thinks that Hong Kong is not a place where people can exercise their choice freely. Things are being preplanned and arranged, set by the authorities. In contrast, the government Japan are genuinely for their people, and people could make their choice.

2. An implication of negligence of father at home where education of the children is traditional done by the mother. Kobayashi argued that it had always been the same, but at olden days, the children respected their father, and now no more.

3. In view of Social support system for Hikikomori.Kobayashi thinks that having a support system will help the parents in discussing their worries and problems with the other. It also helps the Hikikomori sufferers to speak up and share their problems.

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