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

Brainwash in a Sense


I don’t say it’s ineffective. Even Totsuka Yacht School can cure some of the hikikomori. On the contrary, it is like brainwashing. It is like creating great sport players through violent coaching. It is called ‘Success Biases;’ they would say ‘I have made success because I was treated harshly.’ This is brainwashing in a sense.


This way of thinking is dangerous because it encourages those who have got out of hikikomori to loudly claim that they made it thanks to Ito School. ’

There can emerge some supporters who would say ‘I have made it that way. You should do the same thing.’ We can’t stop these supporters. I have no rights to say that they are wrong.  So I think they should live in their own way. But I do not think these people are suitable for the supports. I am afraid there will be trouble whenever they become supporters.

They are too pushy. They are inclined to scold the hikikomori. I would like them to be more empathetic, remembering their own hard time.


―Do you think accommodation facilities are good in the case of the hikikomori who have very bad family relations?


Saito: No way. When you return home, you only become hikikomori again.

Even if you are secluded and got into some work, you will hikikomori again soon after you get back home. I think that happens in most cases, but such cases are not reported by the mass media. They only report success stories.

Still, there are certain a small number of cases where parents become repentant after the hikikomori get better. Those cases lead to the better family relationship. But they are rare cases. They often turn into moving stories.



About the Hikikomori Newspapers

―What do you expect on the Hikikomori Newspapers?


Saito: Publishing messages is very important. For example when the government has made some bad decisions or the mass media report some incidents in biased ways, that’s when the hikikomori need to say something.

Plus, I read the KHJ newspapers, but they are mostly intended for the parents and that they occasionally go the wrong way. There should be someone watching their move, although family unions are also important.

One time, Gingko essence became trendy among the parents. It looked very weird to me when I saw the parents all over the country trying to buy it and let their children try drink it.


―In that case, how about one of our editors tries it and make a report?


Saito: That would be interesting. A report on experiences of treatment can also be good to try. For example, a report on going through the cognitive behavioral therapy with satisfactory results. That can be very useful information.

It is also very good to evaluate support groups with the eyes of the hikikomori themselves. It will help parents who are confused about support groups because there are no standards available to evaluate the support groups.

I think it will help the concerned as well who are also confused about where to ask for help. Wish there are more information and experience reports.


―What do you expect from the Japanese Union of the Hikikomori?


Saito: What I always have felt unfortunate is, as there are so many hikikomori, if they cooperate they can turn the tables. But there are so many who aren’t cooperative.



Saito: What I always have felt sorry is that the hikikomori do not join together even though there are so many of them. I believe that they can turn the tables if they join together. I think things are changing, though. The Hikikomori Future Session (A.K.A. IORI), for example, has been formed. Many places have been formed as well.  I think there have been more voluntary movements recently. But I do hope they join together more and more.

They have the same experience, they should share their experiences and join together.

I have only a vague idea yet, but I think It is not a matter of building hikikomori villages or hikikomori condos but it is the solidarity with gradations that matters.

There should be a union with people who can not fit well into the society, where the neets or the freeters can stay on a rim. I call it a gradation.

I fear that even there can be classifications, like the neets are greater than the hikikomori and the freeters than the neets.

If there is class consciousness, they can no longer unite. The success of the union depends on whether people can put class consciousness aside.