More than 6 lakh Japanese people over 40 are living in complete isolation from society, staying at home for more than six months without social interaction, the government estimated recently. The phenomenon is so widespread in Japan it even has its own name — hikikomori — defined as someone who does not go to school or work for six months and does not interact with anyone outside their family during that time.
A government survey published recently estimated there were 613,000 hikikomori aged between 40 and 64, nearly three-quarters of whom were male. Until recently, it was thought to be an issue mainly affecting teenagers and people in their 20s but ageing Japan is seeing a growing number of middle-aged hikikomori cloistering themselves away for longer periods of time. Around half of those included in the survey had been reclusive for more than seven years, the government said.