The author has translated the work himself into English.
*This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
English Proofreader: Cristy
People living their life without becoming a Hikikomori are called ‘Tsūjō jin’.
According to a survey by a research institute, the population of ‘Tsūjō jin’ is about 100 million people in Japan. ‘Tsūjō jin’ refers to people between the ages of 15 to 64 years old who either have close relationships outside the family or are working or attending school. Experts have found that these ‘Tsūjō jin’ are more likely to commit crimes than Hikikomori, and, thus, are more dangerous. Many long-term ‘Tsūjō jin’ spend decades of their lives in school and work without any purpose. And they become grouped and homogenized in the social fabric, causing discrimination, bullying, strife, conflict, war, and other troubles throughout the world.
What exactly is the true nature of the ‘Tsūjō jin’? As a responsible Hikikomori, I began my own research in order to get to the truth about them.
First, I spoke with Mr. Murakami, an expert on this issue who has been researching the ‘Tsūjō jin’ issue for many years.
“Murakami-san, why do people become ‘Tsūjō jin’?”
“There are many reasons why people become ‘Tsūjō jin’ instead of Hikikomori. There are many causes, such as childhood trauma, family relationships, and one’s own personality.”
“I see. It’s scary that we don’t know one definite cause for this. Do you think I might become ‘Tsūjō jin’ myself someday?”
“Yes. Everyone has the possibility of becoming a ‘Tsūjō jin’. It’s not uncommon for people to suddenly become a ‘Tsūjō jin’ after many years of being a Hikikomori diligently. A common example is a Hikikomori who starts a part-time job for a short period of time and then starts to work full-time job, then becoming a ‘Long-term Tsūjō jin’.”
I felt a chill run through me. There is a possibility that all of us, including myself, will suddenly become a ‘Tsūjō jin’ one day. It’s no longer someone else’s problem. What should we do?
Next, I visited the support activities of Mr. Kosada, the principal of the ‘Tsūjō jin Support School’, who is dealing with the ‘Tsūjō jin’ issue. In his support activities, he meets the ‘Tsūjō jin’ directly, persuades them, and makes them become a Hikikomori.
This time, the subject of Principal Kosada’s support is Mr. Tadao, who has been a ‘Tsūjō jin’ for 32 years. Having always loved to play and make friends outside, Mr. Tadao has spent 32 years as a ‘Tsūjō jin’ without ever becoming a Hikikomori since his childhood. Mr. Tadao went to school as a ‘Tsūjō jin’, continued his education, graduated from university, and joined ‘Corporation A’ where he has remained employed to this day. He has spent most of his life as a ‘Tsūjō jin’ without any purpose.
I visited Mr. Tadao’s workplace with Principal Kosada and his staff.
Mr. Tadao was wearing a business suit and tie in the office. This is a typical look for a ‘Tsūjō jin’.
“My name is Tadao. I work in the sales department of Corporation A. How can I help you?”
After saying that, Mr. Tadao presented his business card to Principal Kosada. People like Mr. Tadao, who have been living in ‘Tsūjō jin’ conditions for a long period of time, tend to show their characteristics in their appearance. They regularly go to beauty salons or barbers to get their hair cut and use hairdressing products to style their hair every day. As the condition of ‘Tsūjō jin’ becomes chronic, they develop their own unique manners.
Principal Kosada began to speak.
“Tadao-kun, what the hell have you done with your life so far?”
“My career? I graduated from the Department of C at the University of B and joined this company—”
Principal Kosada cut off Mr. Tadao’s words mid-sentence.
“You’ve spent 32 years without becoming a Hikikomori. What the hell do you plan to do in the future?”
“My plan for the future? I’ll build my career, get promoted…”
“I’m here to help you. You won’t be able to become a Hikikomori right away in such a condition, so join our dormitory and start our training program to become Hikikomori.”
“I refuse,” Mr. Tadao refused clearly.
“Stop running away from reality anymore. Stop wasting your life as a ‘Tsūjō jin’.”
There was no response from Mr. Tadao. He ignored Principal Kosada and tried to get back to his business. Principal Kosada shouted as if he had lost his temper.
“That’s enough! Why don’t you become a Hikikomori? Just withdraw!”
“If you keep doing this, I’ll call the police. Please leave.”
Mr. Tadao again rejected Principal Kosada’s offer of help. Connecting ‘Long-term Tsūjō jin’ to the support activities is not an easy task.
Then, Principal Kosada pulled out his cell phone. A shrill voice came from the phone.
“Dad! Help me!”
The voice was Tadashi-kun, the son of Mr. Tadao. A masked man was holding a knife to Tadashi’s neck on the screen of Principal Kosada’s cell phone.
In order to solve the ‘Long-term Tsūjō jin’ issue, the cooperation of their families and the use of physical force are necessary. This is Principal Kosada’s philosophy of support for ‘Long-term Tsūjō jin’.
“See, you’re causing trouble for Tadashi-kun, too! Enough of this nonsense!”
Seeing Tadashi-kun, Mr. Tadao understood the situation and agreed, and signed a contract to join the Tsūjō jin Support School. The dormitory cost of the support school was five hundred thousand yen per month. This dormitory was a training place for those who needed to learn to stay indoors by their own ability. The residents must spend more than half a year locked up in their own dormitory rooms. They were not allowed to go out. There were iron bars on the windows of the rooms and surveillance cameras in the hallways. It must have been a very hard situation for Mr. Tadao.
Was that really the right thing to do?
I asked Principal Kosada, “Isn’t it too much that you threaten and intimidate ‘Tsūjō jin’ and make them violently to be Hikikomori?”
Principal Kosada responded, “What we are dealing with are severe, prolonged, and serious cases. People who have been in that state for a long time will not be able to recover from it on their own permanently. They are pre-criminals with a higher crime rate than Hikikomori. If they are left alone, they are more likely to commit heinous crimes. We have no choice but to prevent that from happening.”
But isn’t it too violent? Isn’t there a way to solve the ‘Tsūjō jin’ issue in a peaceful way?
Next, I spoke with Ms. Machida, who is a ‘Former Long-term Tsūjō jin’.
“Well, I appreciate you agreeing to be interviewed today.”
“Yes… well… I thought that people need to know about the time I was a ‘Tsūjō jin’.”
“How many years were you a ‘Tsūjō jin’, Machida-san?”
“How did you manage to recover from that?”
“Initially, I started out as a short-time Hikikomori, at two or three days a week, and then gradually became a full-time Hikikomori. I found it difficult to become a full-time Hikikomori from ‘Tsūjō jin’ immediately.”
I see. It seems that the violent approach of Principal Kosada is not necessary if ‘Tsūjō jin’ can make a step-by-step effort to become a Hikikomori.
“I’m really glad to hear that. What led to Machida-san becoming a ‘Tsūjō jin’?”
“I was a diligent Hikikomori until I was 24. I didn’t go out of my room, didn’t make any friends, and never went to school. But I was bored, so I was curious about the outside world.”
“Bored? Internet, books, TV, games… You can never be bored when you are a Hikikomori. And why do you care about the outside world? Don’t you see everything from the Internet and TV?”
“If I don’t like them, I can turn off my computer, my phone, my TV, my games, etc. I’m bored because nothing feels like an important reality from them. However, the outside world is uncontrollable and full of unexpected events. So, I became curious about the outside world and started to go out. It was scary at first, but I gradually got used to it. Then, I got a job and became independent and began to pay all my rent and living expenses by myself. Taxes, insurances, and even my pension cost were paid from my salary… I was paying them… and… um…”
Ms. Machida sounded like she was about to cry and her voice was breaking.
“I even… I even started sending money to my parents to help them… and it continued for many years…”
After a prolonged period of being a ‘Tsūjō jin’, Ms. Machida began to repeatedly pay taxes and even send money to her parents to help them. I saw the deep darkness of modern society in Ms. Machida. As responsible Hikikomori, we must use Ms. Machida’s courageous confession as an opportunity to rethink our lives.
What Ms. Machida did was an act that led to the reproduction and maintenance of a ‘Tsūjō jin Society’ by ‘Tsūjō jin’. Just as child abuse victims become child abuse perpetrators and reproduce the abuse, the ‘Tsūjō jin’ will reproduce the ‘Tsūjō jin’.
Also, as Mr. Murakami pointed out, we should not forget that transformation into a ‘Tsūjō jin’ can happen to anyone. There is a possibility that one day you too will suddenly become a ‘Tsūjō jin’. With this bizarre mechanism and self-reproducing function, the number of ‘Tsūjō jin’ will continue to increase in the future.
What we can do to stop this tragedy? In the face of the social calamity called ‘Tsūjō jin’, our way of living is now being questioned.