When a death occurs most people can quickly and responsibly deal with the situation. However, a man in Osaka knowingly left his father’s corpse in the house and lived with it for almost two weeks without alerting authorities. The man told police that he was unable to contact anyone about the death because he is a hikikomori! So what is a hikikomori and why would they live with a dead body?
The Japanese word hikikomori (引きこもり) refers to an individual who has withdrawn from society and social interaction for long periods of time. In many cases these people don’t leave their homes, hold jobs, or have any friends. They are often middle class men in their thirties who rely on their parents for support. In English we would probably call this kind of person a hermit or shut-in.
In Japan there is a growing population of people with this condition. A Japanese government report from 2010 stated there were possibly 700,000 hikikomori in Japan and 1.55 million more on the verge of becoming hikikomori. Rigid societal and cultural pressures are said to be some of the main contributing factors. For example, failing an entrance can be one of the triggers.
Anyway, let’s jump back to the story. On December 12 the police received a call from the Asahi district of Osaka. The 34-year-old unemployed man living in the single room residence stated, “My father is dead.” The man and his father had been living together because of the father’s poor health.
Upon investigation, the local police found the body of the 68-year-old father (Mr. Nakao) lying on a Japanese style bed in the residence. The father’s body had no signs of any external injuries so the man explained what had happened to his father.
After waking up on December 1, he noticed that his father wasn’t breathing. He explained, “I didn’t notify the police because I’m a hikikomori.” As mentioned, a hikikomori is someone withdrawn from society and shuns human contact. Rather than contact the outside world, the man lived with the body of his father in his one room house for almost two weeks. Authorities are looking into the cause of death and have started preliminary measures on whether to charge the man for abandonment of a body.
Can you imagine how the corpse would have smelled after 12 days? What’s worse, the man lived in the room with the body of his father for that long! That’s a little bit disturbing. Yet, it’s very sad that the son’s mental state was so severe that he was unable to properly deal with the situation. This unfortunate event highlights the importance of acknowledging and treating hikikomori and we hope strange incidents like this never occur in the future.