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The contact list on Suganuma’s mobile phone has some 400 numbers of young people struggling to reintegrate into society or who are not in education, employment or training — known as NEETs— as well as of their family members.The US will need something similar once Obama leaves office.
But he retreated from society after he failed the entrance examination for a high school he wanted to attend at age 15.Failing to get entrance to university in Japan is often met with suicide since it brings dishonor to one's family.This is less extreme than this young man's case.The true concept of honor---saving face---is foreign to westerners.
Can Japan really afford to treat young people poorly? They don't have that many of them, relatively speaking.
Is Japan slowly dying?
Re: m stone:The hikikomori phenomenon is very different from face-saving. My own view is that group membership/identity is particularly strong in Japan, whether it's your company, your school, your town, etc. It structures a lot of everyday interactions, right down to the words you choose in what you say, and the forms you use to express yourself. A failure to gain admission to the next group (e.g. HS or college) -- or difficulties operating as a member of your current group -- just creates, for some people, intolerable stress, and a kind of alienation. I think hikikomori is primarily an urban phenomenon, albeit in a heavily urbanised country.I experienced a bit of that in law school in NYC myself, actually. I had always found interactions with others stressful (I still do, in fact), but it became almost unbearable at the time, like a kind of brief madness. Ironically, I find that kind of thing a lot easier in Japanese because so much of it is just taken up by rote formulae. And because, as a foreigner, no one expects me to get it 100% right.
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