Interviewed and Written by Vosot Ikeida
Photo by Pixabay
”Hikikomori is a product of economic surplus. It can be found only in the rich advanced and developed countries."
Many "experts" of hikikomori say so. The theory is continued, "They are just lazy because they have nothing to have to do to survive."
As a hikikomori, I had been wondering it and it was exactly one of the reasons I founded GHO. (*1)
So far I have introduced you some hikikomori fellows from the countries that you don't call "rich advanced and developed countries", like Marco Antonio in Argentine (*2) and CJ in the Philippines (*3).
This time I am going to publish my dialogue with another gentle hikikomori, Ippo from Bangladesh. Interviewed in August 2018.
*1.GHO（Global Hikikomori Organization)
*4. IMF in 2013
*5. Asian Development Bank in 2011
Vosot Ikeida Today, I am honored to interview you as the first hikikomori from Bangladesh.
Do you live in a city like Dhaka?
Ippo Makunouchi Yes. I live in Dhaka. But how did you guess it?
Vosot I know only Dhaka and Chittagong among the cities in your country. That is how I guessed.
Ippo Oh, I see.
Vosot How long have you been a hikikomori, and how old are you now?
Ippo I started to be a hikikomori at 18. And now I am almost 26 years old. And now I am trying to get out of this hikikomori life.
Vosot I see. Do you have any friend who is also a hikikomori around you? Is there something like networks for hikikomori in your country?
Ippo Yes, it do. A friend of mine, who is also a hikikomori, recommended me to become friends with you on Facebook. He is the guy who led me to GHO.
Vosot Ah, I see. I know him. I have to be thankful to him too. So he is also a hikikomori in Bangladesh?
Ippo Yes, he is.
Vosot I didn't realize it, because I couldn’t read or pronounce his name, since it was written in the characters I don’t know.
Ippo Ah, I see what you mean. Even in the profile for the internet, he writes his name in Bangla.
Vosot I like your name Ippo Makunouchi as well. You must have brought your name from Japanese. In Japanese characters called Kanji, it should be written 幕ノ内一歩.(*6)
*6."Ippo (一歩)" means "One Step". "Makunouchi (幕ノ内)" sounds like an unfamiliar surname but it is supposed to mean "Inside the Curtain"
The Relationship with Parents
Vosot So you say you are struggling to get out of your hikikomori life. Could I ask you how your parents were saying about your being hikikomori? Are they blaming you?
Ippo Oh yes. Actually my mother is very strict. At the very beginning, my mother used to scold me. She didn't allow me to go out with my friends. It led me to a confined life at home. Still she doesn't like me to go out to hang out with my friends. Especially she doesn't allow me to go far away from our house. In this way, I have become a hikikomori.
Vosot I see. What does your father say?
Ippo My father has been always friendly to me. He doesn't stop me from doing anything by my choice. He inspired me all the means.
Vosot It is good to hear that. My parents are similar to yours. My mother was so strict, or I should say she was even abusive to me, but my father was not so much.
Vosot What is the social status of your family like? I mean frankly, is your family rich, middle, or poor in your country?
Ippo We are in the middle class.
Vosot Do you think it is normal that a child in the middle class family becomes a hikikomori?
Ippo I can't say if it's "normal" or not, but anyway in our country, it is well possible.
Vosot Is there any financial problem to continue to live as a hikikomori? Does your mother complain for your not making money?
Ippo No. She wouldn't do so. But most of the time, I am afraid of going outside. I feel like someone is always following me, someone is talking badly of me. That is how I become nervous. I can't stand in a public place for a long period.
Vosot I see. That is too bad. But I understand that feeling, because I have got such a feeling a little by myself from time to time.
Vosot I am financially living on social welfare in Japan. That is how I can survive as a hikikomori with the minimum standard of life in my country. Is it possible to do the same in your country?
Ippo No. In our country, that is hard to imagine. We young graduates don't get job easily. Our country is small. But we have a lot of population. We have less corporate and job institution. Furthermore, we don't get financial support from our government when we stay in jobless situation.
Vosot So, how are you surviving economically? By your parents' money?
Ippo Yes. But that is quite little amount.
So when I get a job, I think I will be able to overcome my problems.
Vosot I see. Do you have brothers or sisters?
Ippo Yes. I have one younger brother.
Vosot Is your younger brother working outside?
Ippo No...he is unemployed.
But he is not like me. He goes outside with no problem. He is social-minded.
Vosot I see. So, your father is the only person who is working and getting income in your family?
Ippo Yes...you are right.
The Common Points in Hikikomori Worldwide
Vosot Every hikikomori has every different background and situation, because every country is different. But it is interesting to find some common points in the hikikomori in any country, all over the world.
Ippo Yes. You have a point.
Vosot For example, you told me about your anxiety when you have to go out. That kind of feeling is commonly possessed by hikikomori in any country, I think.
Ippo Yes...you are right. It is a common trait in every hikikomori.
Vosot By the way, you told me before, that you started to be a hikikomori at 18 years old. Until 18 years old, did you have no problem to go to school?
Ippo No. I didn't face any problem before 18.
Vosot Oh, that is also interesting to hear in a sense.
...To the Japanese Version of this article