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Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010

EDITORIAL

Withdrawal from society

The Cabinet Office in February surveyed 3,287 people aged 15 to 39 and decided that 1.79 percent of them are living in seclusion at home and have withdrawn from society. On the basis of this survey, the government estimates that 696,000 people across the nation are socially withdrawn. Surprisingly, 3.99 percent of those surveyed said they sometimes feel like withdrawing from society. The government estimates that 1.55 million people are in this category.

The estimated 696,000 socially withdrawn people include slightly more than 230,000 who confine themselves to their rooms or homes or go out only as far as nearby convenience stores. The remaining include those who leave the home to pursue a hobby.

The survey shows that various factors cause social withdrawal and that long absence from school is one cause. When asked about the reason for their social withdrawal, 23.7 of those in a state of social withdrawal said they were unable to feel at home at the workplace; another 23.7 percent cited illness; 20.3 percent noted unsuccessful efforts at finding a job; 11.9 percent referred to long absence from school; and 6.8 percent pointed out the difficulty in feeling at home at university.

A survey by a nongovernmental organization dealing with social withdrawal shows that in 2007, the average age of socially withdrawn people topped 30 for the first time. The organization says the average age is rising every year. It also found that the average length of the period of social withdrawal was 9.6 years. The longest case was 34 years.

It may be relatively ease for people in their 20s to return to society, but people in their 30s and 40s will likely find it difficult to do so. In July, the government disclosed a rough plan to help NEETs (people not in employment, education or training) and socially withdrawn people. It should pay attention to older socially withdrawn people when pushing projects to build group homes and help people in their search for employment.



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