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Today’s post is from u/koukiboi who answers the question: “Every year, nearly 100,000 Japanese vanish without a trace. They are known as johatsu, or evaporated people. What drives them to engineer their own disappearance?”
Im half Japanese and have Japanese relatives/family and currently live in Japan so what im about to say is just my take/my opinion/my experience.
No human in this world does anything without a reason. There is always a reason no matter what and in Japan (specifically Tokyo) there is a lot of reasons to just disappear. There is a ton of videos/articles about hikkomori, NEETs, and Jouhatsu which I believe is all related to other in the sense that people become/do these things because of a reason. Im gonna list a few reasons why people become Hikkikomori, NEET, or Jouhatsu:
- 1 Being a salaryman is pure hell in Tokyo. You wake up early in the morning and ride a train thats packed like a sardine can and work from 8am till sometimes 11pm without any paid overtime. While at work because of Japans Senpai & Kouhai work place dynamic if your a kouhai (underling) you get miseshime’d (made an example) and get yelled at in front of all your coworkers at work for a tiny mistake you made. Now think of a time where you were in a situation where it was so uptight/had to act super professional that once you got out that situation you were so exhausted and tired even though you barely did anything. Now times that by x10 and do that for 12-14 hours everyday. There is a “culture” in the Japanese work place that you must follow or you will be ridiculed by your other co workers. Example: When talking to anybody that is your senpai (age or experience) you must always use keigo (very proper way of speaking Japanese). Or when you enter the elevator with a senpai (superior) you must always ask him what floor he wants to go too and press the button for him and once he gets to his floor hold the door open until he leaves. There is books in book stores in Japan JUST for learning how to “properly” work in the Japanese work place. Then once the day is done you take another packed train home and repeat it for 5-6 days every week and the only thing to look forward too is golden week, silver week, and maybe a 1 day weekend every week. So next time you see a picture of a drunken passed out/sleeping salary man on the sidewalk in Tokyo just know that he is literally drinking his stress and shitty life away.
- 2 Being born a women in Japan is like being put on automatic extra hard difficulty in life (like life isnt hard already). Japan is ranked pretty low in the ranking for sexism and theres a reason for that. Unlike America where its iilegal to discriminate based on race, religion, sex, etc etc in Japan you can discriminate down to the blood type! (AB blood type is considered the worst blood type in Japan. look it up its real) So when you put in your resume you need to attach a picture. When companies look through the resumes the organize it by male and female and look through the males first and if there is any open spots left they will look through the women’s resumes. There is even colleges that purposely lower female scores compared to the males (recent news. look it up). Also if you get pregnant in Japan you can say “bye bye” to your career cause you’re straight up fucked. There is an article that interviewed a women who had a high position and took a maternity leave and once she came back she was working for the people that were working under her before her maternity leave. The company even put her in an easier/less work=less paying position because it was assumed that “now that she has a child and was pregnant she wont be able to work/focus on her job” Now this sounds pretty dam bad for Japan so the Japanese government went “hey you big companies out there! we will give literally give you FREE MONEY if you hire a women and put her in a high ranking management role!” Try and guess how many companies took this offer. 1? 3? 10? WRONG it was big circular ZERO. When investigated to why the companies did not put any women in a high ranking position role to literally get free from the government they basically said “If I hired a women in a high ranking of a position other companies that I do business with will look down on me and my company and think that i am not serious about doing business” yikes
- 3 There is a lot of pressure from parents and pressure to do good in school. In Japan towards the end of “middle school” you take a test and that test determines if you can get into your name brand high school that everybody wants to go in. Same thing with “high school” where towards the end of HS you take a super important test which determines if you made it into that brand named college. If you fail your fucked basically. Companies in Japan look mostly at what college you went too. Waseda, Tokyo uni, keio, and sophia are some of the biggest names that if you went to a Japanese person and tell them you graduated from one of those colleges they would say “oooo sugoi!!!” So if you’re academically incapable and fail the test to get into one of those colleges do not be expecting that good of a job.
- 4 You finished college and now you need to look for a job. That means you’re currently doing shushoku katsudou which is again pure hell. You spend months and months and months going to job events getting turned down left and right. Of course if you went to a brand college its pretty smooth sailing but the majority doesn’t just casually get into brand colleges. So that means the majority of people struggle everyday trying to find a career/job suffering rejection left and right. I bet you’re thinking “its like that in America!” but thats where you’re wrong. In America you got a ton of laws in your favor especially the no discrimination law. In Japan since you can discriminate based on anything to everything you better make sure you look your 1000% best in every interview, make sure you suit has no wrinkles, and you better say the correct stuff at the right time at every interview because if they do not like your hair? you’re CUT. Your attitude? CUT. You face? CUT. Nothing is protecting you so you better pray to every/any god that exists that your interviewer likes you and likes what you look like.
- 5 The saying “the nail that sticks out gets hammered in” is especially true in Japan. If you do not act and play the part and follow the “cultural rules” of Japan you will get ridiculed. Imagine living in a place where you cannot be your self you just gotta follow the crowd and say what everybody else does. Sounds depressing right? Well it is.
These are only a FEW reasons and I left out a lot of other stuff but decided not to put it in because I can go on and on and this comment is gonna end up turning into a book. So if you have any questions feel free to ask as a reply or a direct message if you want it to be private.
EDIT** I should also mention that I personally LOVE Japan. I have tons of positive things to say about Japan and in NO WAY hate Japan. The things I points I stated above was referring to the documentary and was some of the reasons why someone would Jouhatsu. Its to escape from all of that ^ escape from a society where all of that is normalized.