Written by Vosot Ikeida and Tellurienne
Vosot Ikeida : A Japanese hikikomori, 55 years old.
Tellurienne : A French hikikomori, 38 years old.
...Continued from Round 3
The Army Experience
Tellurienne: At the age of 27, I tried to enter the army.
Vosot: The army?!
Tellurienne: Yes, that's right. I took three days of tests.
*1. Enlistment to the French Army
In France, since the French Revolution in the 18th century, the army had adopted a conscription system. However, in the 1990s, the army was reduced, and in 2001 it was turned into a voluntary system. When she took the entry test in 2007, it was the voluntary system totally, and the number of soldiers was around 186,000. For reference, the ground army of Japan has about 152,000 volunteers. Due to the increased threat of terrorism, President Macron has shown his idea of reviving the conscription system.
We can find the situation of the entry test for the French army in the Reuter's article published on August 5, 2015, as follows.
... about 30 young people aged 17 to 29. 21 years old on average. They spent two days at the base located in the east of Paris, which houses one of the five recruitment and selection groups (GRS) of France.
In the program, sports events, psychotechnical tests, medical examination and motivational interview were done. At the end of these 48 hours, all their profile is scrutinized. According to their results, the young candidates will be directed to the positions which are filled with the training that will correspond to them best.
Vosot: The army! I have got an opposite image against the place a person like you are supposed to reach.
Tellurienne: Exactly. In fact it was not the place made up for me. Everything went just terrible. I had got a deep trauma by it.
To make the matter worse, my grandmother had passed away just one day before I tried my luck by getting me into the army. It was an extremely hard experience to me.
Vosot: I imagine that was so... why on earth did you choose to enter the place like the army, among a lot of choices? Was it a kind of extention of your taste as an otakue?
Hikikomori and Reperformance
Tellurienne: There were certain situations. I was desperate because my parents said they would move out of the suburb of Paris soon to the countryside in Bourgogne, and leave me homeless. If I entered the army, I could get a job, become a part of the social group, get a place to live in, and so on.
I never had an attraction for the job of army, but they offered me that, since I had a diploma of university, I would get a good position in the army and get integrated into society with a good condition.
Vosot: And, it didn't go like that?
Tellurienne: No. It was too much difficult for me. I did my best at the tests, but the results were found to be so negative.
Vosot: Also in Japan, sometimes there are hikikokomoris who try to get the severest type of work in order to get out of being a hikikomori - the severe job which he or she exactly hated most while being a hikikomori.
A psychiatrist probably explains that type of pattern as a reperformance of traumatism. I often think that "hikikomori" and "working too much" are the both sides of a coin.
Tellurienne: And then, I tried to find a job by following the demand of ANPE (*2) . I found one, but I cancelled it in the last minute, because I bacame so anxious that I could not sleep at night anymore, I could not eat, and I kept drinking alcohol to calm myself down, then I became an alcoholic.
Since that time, I stopped looking for a job or making myself reintegrated to the society. After all, I left Île-de-France where I had grown up, for Bourgogne to keep living with my parents, and I countinued to be a hikikomori. In this way, I have never work in all my life.
*2. ANPE: Agence Nationale Pour l’Emploi. National Agency for Employment. Nowadays it is called "Pôle Emploi"
...Continued to Round 5
To the Japanese version of this article
To the French version of this article