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Friday, May 18, 2007

Confusion of Hikikomori and NEETs

Hikikomori or NEET are often being confused altogether in terms of their nature or interpretation.

Ishikawa Ryoko tried to help us to gain a clearer picture in this confusion. She interviewed people who regard themselves as "hikikomori," and point out the negative effects, especially for such individuals, caused by the confusion of the concepts of "hikikomori" with "NEETs."

"Hikikomori," which refers to youth in a state of social withdrawal, has been noted since the latter half of the 1990s in Japan. In recent years, the concept of "NEETs" has also come to attract attention. "NEETs" refers to young people who are "not in education, employment, or training."

The concept of "hikikomori" has been partly incorporated into discussions about "NEETs," and it is commonly said that the two can be discussed in the same context.

It seems to be some organizations dealing with "hikikomori" have started to support "NEETs."

According to the author, this confusion has a direct effect on individuals who consider themselves to be "hikikomori." Therefore, it is necessary to distinguish the two concepts.

In her interviews, what was revealed was that,

people who consider themselves to be "hikikomori" see themselves as inferior and withdraw from relationships with others because though they have difficulty working, they worry excessively that "working is the natural state for an adult." Their self-esteem cannot be restored immediately even if they participate in a self-help group. Informants re-construct stories about themselves and their lives and come to see the norm of life-courses in relative terms, and regain self-esteem from this. However, this can lead to a decline in their motivation to start working. Moreover, informants cannot overcome their distrust and fear of society. Therefore, sufferers of "hikikomori" seek a new way of life as they again ask themselves various questions, such as, "why must we work?" "What do I want to do?" "Who am I?" and so on. As they think through these questions, they resolve to make a fresh start. This process of struggle is in essence the process of recovery from "hikikomori."


Ryoko felt that the current measures for "NEETs," and "hikikomori" are very different. Confusing two concepts will :
1)deprive people suffering from "hikikomori" of the opportunity for recovery
2)lead them to abandon their own efforts voluntarily.


Re: Confusion of the Concepts of "Hikikomori" and "NEETs : Seen from the Perspective of People Who Regard Themselves as "Hikikomori". Ishikawa Ryoko. Tokyo Metropolis University.

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