‘’The Hikikomori Can Turn the Tables’’ – an interview with Dr. SAITO Tamaki


Thoughts on the Violent Support Groups

Naohiro Kimura: I decided to create the Japanese Union of the Hikikomori because I got the reports on One Step Ito School.

And the reason why we decided to publish the Hikikomori Newspapers; I felt it problematic that the biased reports by the mass media that treat the hikikomori as if they were criminals.

Dr. Saito, there had already been reports on violent supports like Osada Yuriko and Totsuka Yacht School. Why did you hold a press conference only after the incident of the Ito school?


Saito: I regret that. I should have stopped those incidents; I even talked with her on a television show.

I should have insisted that she was wrong more strongly. Of course we argued and I said I did not agree with her. But I failed to oppose her strongly enough.


There were lawsuits against Osada cram school and there was homicide in the Eye Mental School. I strongly regret that I could not stop it.

Just after those incidents, there was some repentance. So there haven’t been such reports for some time. But now that 10 years have passed since then, there is exactly the same type of report again:


 ‘There are the hikikomori, the bastards, but there are righteous support groups that can reform them. Those support groups do not hesitate to deal with them with violence in order to correct them in the right way.


Such a biased vision has been made again. I strongly feel anger against the mass media because they haven’t been repentant at all. Therefore, I am filled with regret is and anger.



TV Should Make Reports More Concerned with Human Rights


The purpose for my press conference was not to put down One Step Ito School, but I wanted to claim the mass media should be more aware of the fact they do business in Japan, one of the OECD countries, and concern more about human rights.

Japanese TV media does not respect the viewers. In other words, they make whatever images that would make them happy.

They like to make up moral stories by introducing stereotypical villains. It is obvious that the mass media expect that the viewers would feel satisfied if they watch how these villains end up being treated.

This way of thinking is very low. It should be eliminated. I thought the mass media would not like our complaints just after they made such programs. It seems we have made it for the time being.


At this moment, I don’t hear reports like that anymore. However, the media like that survives hiddenly. It’s really like Yakuza gang and remains underground.

But that is secret unlawful business, so they should keep hiding. They should never appear as heroes. They need to understand who they are.



Do Violent Support Groups Have Social Importance?

Most of the hikikomori showed signs of rejection against the reports on the violent support groups’ incident. But some said that they were saved by those groups. Do they actually have no social importance at all?


Saito:  There is no need for violent support groups. There is a right way to deal with the hikikomori even if they are going wild in thier house. I have written down about that on the Net. We can deal with it very well. We don’t need violent supports groups. Most of the parents can’t make a right judgment because they are in depression, too.

However, for the parents who are desperate for some quick solution, violent support groups actually can seem saviors who have a quick remedy. But remember, these parents are mostly depressed.

I took a survey to take the depression scores on some of the parents. I did the scores using K6 procedure. The score over 13 points is at high risk of depression. And the average score of the parents was 12.9. That is very close to danger. This tells us that the parents are also stuck and depressed. They can’t make sensible decisions. They are so much desperate to get out of the situation that they knock the door on any support groups.

That depressed state was the reason why they didn’t listen to any of my advice.

They can easily depend on the visible support groups. That is how they find and go to the dangerous groups. They have no energy left on them, and they can’t research on the Internet.



Failure Cases are too Miserable to Look at


Saito: And even the hikikomori themselves can agree to go to them. The violent supports CAN be effective on some people. That’s true. The reason I reject them is that even though they can succeed sometimes, the failure cases are too miserable.

If they fail, that hikikomori would grudge his parents forever. He could be more suspicious of people. And there is a chance that he would not be cured anymore.

The Managers of the violent groups say ‘we can manage to cure them in 50% of the hikikomori cases.’ This is no good. They fail on 50 % of them. But on the other hand, they save the other 50%. Treatments are not intended to cure 100% of the patients, so they should prepare for the failure cases before they start their business. However, they ignore their failures. That is very bad.