Exploring the Hikikomori Phenomenon in Japan

Exploring the Hikikomori Phenomenon in Japan

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Editor's Note: Not so long ago, hot-shot MBAs in America were being advised to learn Japanese. Japan's worth ethic and collective march forward truly made it the "land of the rising yen." Its trains ran on time, it had no urban ghettos, it was the phoenix risen from the ashes of World War II. But then, the bubble burst. As Japan languishes in its economic doldrums, nothing seems to epitomize its national character more starkly than the "Hikikomori." These are the thousands of young men who lock themselves in their rooms, away from the world, for weeks, months, and even years at a time. Their only connection to the outside world? The plate of food their parents leave outside their door. Michael Zielenziger was the Tokyo-based bureau chief for Knight Ridder Newspapers for seven years. He has written a book about the Hikikomori, Shutting out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation.

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