Dive deeper into Japan
with Japan correspondent
Kjeld Duits
Home » Archives » October 2004 » Skipping School May be Depression

Skipping School May be Depression

Thursday, October 7, 2004 Posted: 12:20 PM JST

Depression may explain why a large number of Japanese school children play hookey from school, reports the Daily Yomiuri today. Research data supporting this radical new view was recently presented at a conference of the Japan Association for School Mental Health.

Skipping school has always been seen as a boycot or a form of phobia. Since the 1990's, as the problem grew increasingly more serious in Japan, many experts said that students just did not want to go to school. Antipathy towards school became accepted as a normal fact of youth. It clearly showed a lack of understanding of the mechanisms that kept record large numbers of students away from classes.

Ryuji Kodama, the 56-year-old director of Nagashida no Mori Shinryo Clinic who presented the new research data runs a a school for children who regularly skip school. He places priority on nurturing children's minds. Starting in October 2001 Kodama researched 131 primary and middle school children at his clinic for a period of two years. Eighty-four showed a "tendency" toward truancy, 28 of these showed symptoms of depression.

The most obvious symptom among children suffering from depression is becoming less active. They rarely enjoy video games they used to like, soon tire of reading comics, refuse to do anything and spend long periods lying down, says the Daily Yomiuri. Kodama believes it is because they lack the energy to be active, and not because of a lack of interest. He points out that such children often show physical symptoms, such as exhaustion, waking up too early and diminished appetite. "If a child shows these symptoms not only on weekdays, but also on holidays," says Kodama, "it is likely that he or she is suffering from depression."

Last year a team of Tsukuba University surveyed primary school students in grades four to six. They found that 10 percent of the boys and 13.5 percent of the girls showed symptoms of depression.

The new research is an important step towards understanding the problem of Japan's thousands of "Hikkikomori", young children who refuse to leave their rooms and avoid any social interaction. Often for years on end. The important question to ask now is, why are so many children, and adults, suffering from depression, and what can be done to prevent this from happening.

Keywords: national_news education medical psychology

*   *   *

4 comments so far post your own

1 | At 06:15pm on Oct 25 2004, Christine wrote:
I am interested in school phobias in Japan. I'm planning to write about this topic as my paper's main theme. Could you tell/send me more about this topic? Such as the more specific cause of this phobia, how the goverment is solving this? I really appreciate it if you could send me more about this. Thankyou very much.
2 | At 09:16am on Oct 26 2004, Kjeld Duits wrote:
Hi Christine, I am doing research on "Hikikomori', as it is called, for an article. That will take some more weeks. When do you have to finish your paper?

You can also search the net for Hikikomori or check the sites about this problem in our Japan Links directory: http://www.ikjeld.com/linker/index.php?cat=280

You will need to translate the Japanese pages into English. Use any of the programs on http://www.ikjeld.com/linker/index.php?cat=143 Especially Excite Honyaku is very good.
3 | At 04:21am on Nov 20 2004, Mike Dziesinski wrote:
Hi. Found this site through Google.

This research that depression may be the cause for hikikomori seems to mesh with my field observations at a hikikomori rehab facility in the last year. Very interesting.

I'm writing my Master's thesis on the topic and my blog, http://towakudai.blogs.com, is based on the issue.

Listen,I worked up a 47 page paper on the hikikomori issue in 2001 before I did my field work. I think I'll post it as a PDF and link it on my blog in the next day or so if anyone is interested.


Mike Dziesinski
4 | At 10:27pm on Apr 22 2005, Lukman wrote:
please send me a news or book references about hikikomori! now doing my final project about hikikomori
Subscribe to newsletter:
First name:
Daily:   Biweekly:

(Unsubscribe or Update)

We Recommend:


The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
Stone Bridge Press

Syndicate iKjeld news

Powered By Greymatter

© 2001~ iKjeld.com/Kjeld Duits. All rights reserved.
To publish, broadcast, rewrite or redistribute this material, please contact us.