Startling survey finds 613,000 people aged 40-64 live in isolation
Nikkei -- Apr 07
A recent survey in Japan has uncovered an alarming number of middle-aged people without work and who rarely leave home.

Approximately 613,000 people aged 40 to 64 are believed to live as shut-ins, the government announced in March. Over 70% of recluses surveyed were men and nearly half said they have been isolated from society for at least seven years.

The results of the survey were somewhat startling as the government had thought the issue of hikikomori, as recluses are known, was confined to people between the ages of 15 and 39, and had conducted past surveys based on this assumption.

"Adult hikikomori is a new social issue," said welfare minister Takumi Nemoto. "It needs to be addressed properly by conducting studies and analyses."

The government defines hikikomori as people who have remained secluded at home for at least six months, and who do not go to school or work. People who do not interact with others outside their own family are also included in the category.

The number of middle-aged hikikomori is higher than that for the 15-39 age group, which is believed to be about 541,000. In total, there could be more than one million hikikomori in the country.

The December 2018 survey sampled 5,000 households comprised of at least one member aged between 40 and 64. Of the 3,248 households that responded, 1.45% had shut-ins, a large number who cited retirement as a trigger for their withdrawal, followed by those who had trouble with relationships or were ill.

Approximately 50% of hikikomori say they have been living that way for at least seven years, while 6% answered 30 years or more.

News source: Nikkei
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