Milano-Tokyo Dialogue Over Hikikomori  
Round 5 “Violent Supporters”

(Photo: Navagli in Milano / Nakameguro in Tokyo / Retouched by Vosot Ikeida)

Profile of Speakers

Marco Crepaldi
A young socio-psychologist in Milan, Italy. Founded the web site “Hikikomori Italia” to respond to the increase of hikikomori in Italy, presiding liaison meetings of about 170 families. Refer to his article “What hikikomori is and what Isn’t” which was translated also in Japanese and raised big reactions.

Vosot Ikeida
A middle-aged hikikomori in Tokyo, Japan. Has been a hikikomori intermittently for over 30 years. Refer to his career “Hikikomori Horoki (Odyssey of Hikikomori)“ (Japanese). What he speaks out here is his personal opinion and nothing to represent the Hikikomori News.

Continued from Round 4

We have agreed on that if a hikikomori wants to leave one’s hikikomori condition, it is agreeable that someone tries to help him or her out. However, the problem is that, there are some people who try “to help him or her out” NOT by the hikikomori’s choice. That is the terrible type of hikikomori support, which is usually called “hikidashi-ya” in Japanese.

What does that mean?

In English newspapers published in Japan, it is translated as “drawers”. But “drawers” call themselves “hikikomori supporter”.
In fact, they are tough professionals about hikikomori problems who receive expensive money, as much as ten thousand euro or so, from parents whose child is a hikikomori, persuade the hikikomori to come out of the room, break the door of the room if they don’t come out, push him or her into their car, transport to their prison-like rehabilitation center, and train hikikomoris up for cheap labour forces who work for their own organization.

They have some psychological knacks to squeeze hikikomoris out, but when the knack doesn’t work, they destroy doors of the room the hikikomori is shut in, and draw him or her out violently, so they are called “drawers”, and also “violent supporters” by us.

How terrible it is.

It is, indeed.
Their rehabilitation centers are usually located in the middle of mountains or isolated overseas, for example, in the Australian desert, where hikikomoris cannot easily escape from. Even when it is located in cities, the hikikomoris caught will be monitored all day, so they can’t escape from there anyway.
Even if a hikikomori succeeds to run away from there and rushes into a nearby police station, he or she will be only brought back to the violent supporters’ house, because the top of the drawer business is connected with the police. That case actually happened. (Refer to the article in Japanese )

It is more awful that the drawers are regarded to be doing such good jobs for the society that their tops are sometimes invited to the gorgeous parties by high-rank politicians of our government, meanwhile what they do are nothing other than violations of hikikomori’s human rights.

That is really awful. I will not permit something similar to happen in Italy.
I have continued to say that patience and comprehension are the only way to help the hikikomoris by the long-term view.

In Italy, what kind of activities are starting or being thought against the increase of hikikomoris now?

Nothing.(At the moment of June 2017)
Because almost nobody knows about the hikikomori phenomenon here. This is why I started my project. The majority of people confuse hikikomori with “internet addiction”. So, obviously the result is not good.
I think things in Italy will change in the next a few years because the phenomenon is too large even for them to ignore.

To be continued to Round 6

To the Japanese version of Round 5


  1. Takeshi

    “How did “Draw” come to mean pull, as in draw drapes?”

    We can look up the word ‘drawer’ in etymology dictionary, or ask Google Image what their algorithm would think of this word. This is the fault of the original writer who coined this term ‘Hikidashi-ya’. Hikidashi, the direct translation would be a drawer, a piece of furniture. ‘Ya’, in this context sounds to imply a small business, or someone who leads this said business.

    In the Japanese publication worlds, coining a new term this way may be appropriate. I see a problem though, it’s not intuitive enough, the meaning intended will be misappropriated in the head, because this word alone doesn’t have clear enough correlations to the context that needs to be provided to explain the word as it stands. Even then, this seems illogical, and I’ll explain this later on…

    Kidnapping, human trafficking and abduction, off the top of my head, these are the action terms that includes the criminality of this heinous criminal business, maybe similar analogy can be ‘drawn’ when we use the word ‘hikikomori’. ‘To draw’ in the sense that to move someone physically is nowhere to be found. I can be drawn to something or someone, but I won’t be literally pulled toward the subject. To drag is probably the original meaning of the word, if we were to mean it to pull, so, then the object that we are pulling needs to be light enough, you could probably just take a look at the largest dictionary you can find and check these for me?

    ‘hiki-‘ as in to pull is fine by me. I could say that a person can be drawn to this ‘komori’ state which I’d translate it as a hermit-like state, I can’t tell apart the synonyms this google dictionary is showing me right now… It says a hermit does this solitary lifestyle as a religious discipline, and for me personally, this is a wonderful way to define the word, it captures the duality of this world if I’m not mistaken, the connotation that comes along with it is just fine by me.

    So my point is this. Hikidashi definitely sounds like a drawer in either language, we store everyday stuff in there. And if we were ‘to draw/Hiku something’, my mind sees this fork in the road, and I don’t want anyone to get lost in there. Hiku as in to pull, adding -er to it and we have ‘puller’, this sounds like a mechanical device, a tool to pull something. Is something like a ‘convincer’ be more appropriate translation?

    To quote, “…they are called “drawers”, and also “violent supporters” by us.”

    There has to be many other candidates for English names. This is like coming up with someone’s nickname, it’s actually interesting what you just did in what I quoted. Someone came up with that rather neutral sounding word,,,all I’m trying to say is it appears to be rational that everyone thinks the way they do. To quote the early Wittgenstein, “The world is everything that is the case.”, something like that. I’m not too bright, sorry if I sound too difficult to understand. I want you to know though, I’m not trying to refute the choice of your words,,, although I could be right in what I’m trying to appeal to you from a cognitive scientific point of view. I usually think in words rather than visualization. Just out of curiosity, which type are you Mr.Vosot?

    The mere mention of this business upsets me too much, there’s no way that I’ll be supporting the existence of this kinda business but at the same time, there’s this question of why would anyone with intelligible mind think to use the services that’s offered this way? How well did the contract been written? Let us hope we can do better by looking at our own social contract with this world.

    “What makes a Hikikomori? (AVPD/Escapism)” @ YouTube by by Mental Circus Podcast

    Has anyone suspected this AVPD angle about hikikomori by the way? By ‘drawing’ on my past life experience, this speaks to me a lot. I’d be interested to know Marco’s opinion on this. I’d appreciate it if you could pass this on to Italian interweb.

    Keep up the good work, bye.

  2. Takeshi

    Freud stated that his trip to the United States in 1919 was because: “I am going to the USA to catch sight of a wild porcupine and to give some lectures.”

    Schopenhauer’s ‘The World as Will and Representation’ seems to touch on something. I’m not saying the world is all devil’s work or anything, Tat Tvam Asi, (Thou art that, or You’re it), sometimes we fall prey to the abyss, thought that was (clinical) depression for me.

    Nothing’s happening in Italy, maybe it is, there are no way for us to know. It is the Will without shred of freedom, he leaves us room for ascension,,, and I think anybody’s supposed to be happy there. More on that thought, I may look up Italian constitution later on, this passage ‘life, liberty and “the pursuit of happiness”‘, we simply Kant know Things-in-themselves.

    It’s significant in that it makes me wanna define ‘life’ like we ought to know, as we’ve known it… Hikikomori as “internet addiction” and they confuse the two, we focus on one and the other loses attention, we could just say that maybe we’re attempting to theorize or conceptualizing it all wrong, I mean it don’t sound rational enough. Schop don’t see the world in multiplicity, and the representation of the world comes out of nowhere, anything could be buried there, ‘ there is and there isn’t ‘ don’t make much of a difference, that’s ,,, suffering enough. Bad psychiatrists may call this view, depressive reality, it’s just something to think about.

    Teleological ethics, deontological ethics, however we look at life, it seems true that our sense is biased. It is kinda nonsensical things that everybody does, they call it empirical science and that’s not all there is to it.

    Here’s some questions that I currently have. What kind of identity could be associated with us/I as a human-being? I’m still chasing after this ontological question, so I don’t belong to gender politics like hikikomori-Joshi-kai (girl’s club), they seem to be backed by religious teachings, I look at it with slight suspicion. I’ve found out that it was the closest gathering geographically to where I live, well, good luck to them. For one to put himself in close proximity to ideologies ‘willingly’ would take strength, there’s no plausible reason that women could do better though…

    I think this is my bias showing a little bit, this aversion to any religious thought, I could call it MY empirical observation. Well, I’ve wrote long enough, sorry this has no structure to speak of. Altruism, or free will, even human rights don’t have sound basis as far as I can tell. Prescriptive ideas as opposed to descriptive ideas, some kinda esthetic point of view may be the key to the support of any hikikomori.

    Lastly, I’d like to bring up another topic here, it’s just my opinion. Socio-psychological view, I don’t trust it. As I’ve found out, Cartesian conception of the mind interfere with this general notion of the word ‘empathy’, there’s no accuracy in our mindreading capabilities. Neuroscience talks about mirror neurons and that was no help. There’s one more thing to add, women’s intuition is a myth!

    So, yeah, let us take a moment and think this through, the ontological, biological, psychological and societal understanding of hikikomori perceptions could be pretty pessimistic ones, will-to-life, look into it if you’re interested.


  3. Mr. (or possibly Ms.) Takeshi, thank you for your comments.

    Actually we do not know how the original writer or translator started to assign the word “drawer” for the Japanese business “hikidashi-ya”. We agree on that “drawer” is not the best translation, but it is also true that we haven’t found any other appropriate alternative idea, so we continue to use the English word under reluctance.
    “Convincer” sounds to be nice, but we have to think the fact that many hikikomoris who were “drawn out” by them were not convinced at all.

    If you’d like to make contacts to Marco, you can find the web site “Hikikomori Italia” on the web.

    Vosot Ikeida