>On Wednesday, Pablo loaned CanadaBoy a copy of Shutting Out The Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation. My bookish reflexes must have been out of whack that day or I would’ve pounced on it first. Ever since reading in Party Of One about the hikikomori, the young Japanese people who completely withdraw from all aspects of social life, I’ve been interested in learning more about them.
In writing Shutting Out The Sun, author Michael Zielenziger, a journalist who has lived in Japan for several years interviewed several hikikomori and their families and also discussed how the weak economic climate and the rigidity of the older generation’s tradition-bound way of doing things have caused millions of young people in Japan to just throw up their hands and say in effect, “What the hell; what’s the use?”
As far as being bound to the Confucian way of thinking, and the insane pressure put on young people from their earliest years to study and succeed, Korea and Japan are very much alike. I would almost be willing to wager that the hikikomori syndrome exists to some extent in Korea as well. These young people are considered mentally ill by the general public, but on some levels, hikikomori seems an inevitable and almost reasonable response to a society that is reluctant to change, even when it would benefit the younger generation.
I hope to wrest Shutting Out The Sun from CanadaBoy’s grip sometime soon and learn more about this phenomenon. I also hope that as a westerner, Zielenziger is able to provide a balanced and unbiased view of Japanese society and its problems.