By now, we are all familiar with the hikikomori, the young able-bodied individuals who have withdrawn from social life. These recluses keep to themselves with varying degrees of confinement and self-imposed isolation, but many wonder how they sustain themselves?
Financially Dependent on Parents
It’s no secret that most hikikomori are dependent on their parents. Being unable, or downright unwilling, to join Japan’s highly competitive and toxic workforce, many of these modern-day hermits live off their parents’ earnings and pension. But this cannot last forever.
Journalist Ishikawa Kiyoshi, who has helped provide support for long-term hikikomori for nearly 18 years, notes that as time goes on, the parents of hikikomori grow old and die. This tragic loss cuts off the remaining financial support a hikikomori may have.
Surviving Off of Inheritance
Foreseeing this problem, some parents leave behind a considerable inheritance saved up over the years or property, like apartments to rent out. They hope that their hikikomori child will somehow manage by withdrawing small amounts from their inheritance or from the rental income.
Though according to Mr. Ishikawa, the odds are stacked against a hikikomori. It’s likely that they have never learned wealth management or how to properly take care of themselves. This sudden responsibility can be jarring, and it’s advised to parents to gradually teach their hikikomori child about personal finance.
Victims of Con Artists
Tragically, many hikikomori are left without money sense and a basic knowledge of how the world works. When a hikikomori turns to the internet for support and advice on what to do with their recent loss and their newly-found fortune, they also become the target of con artists.
Once word gets out that a hikikomori has money, they become the target of dangerous schemes. Often, they will be approached by a beautiful member of the opposite sex pretending to be a social worker or a volunteer. Once a hikikomori’s heart is captured, they may shower the con artist with gifts and cash. They could also be approached by criminals who introduce them pricey alcohol and illicit drugs.
Fraudulent groups may also convince a hikikomori to invest in fake ventures and businesses, promising them an income stream without having to change their reclusive lifestyle. Once the inheritance has been transferred, the swindlers just disappear, leaving the hikikomori impoverished.
There are also documented cases where swindled hikikomori are approached by identity thieves and are offered money for selling their identities – mobile phones, IDs, bank accounts – which will later be used to scam more people. This effectively turns the victims into accomplices and cause them massive legal trouble.
A Social Health Issue
Hikikomori who have been scammed are ashamed to tell other people that they have been duped. Without parents or supportive friends and family, they just bottle up their suffering and keep quiet. Mr. Ishikawa says, “We need a detailed set of responses and arrangements to keep such people from becoming socially abandoned.”