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Japan's modern-day hermits: The world of hikikomori

In Japan, half a million people live isolated in their bedrooms, unable to face the outside world. These modern-day hermits are known as the hikikomori. Since April 2018, the Japanese government has been conducting a nationwide study in a bid to fully understand this strange phenomenon. Once limited to young people, it now affects the whole of Japanese society. Our correspondent reports.

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Most hikikomori are under 40, but this extreme form of isolation increasingly affects older people, which worries the Japanese government. Older hikikomori sometimes have no relatives or friends to support them and remain cut off from society for longer periods. Getting them out of isolation then becomes very difficult. Their ultimate fear is to die alone. Every year in Japan, some 30,000 people pass away without a loved one by their side – arguably an even more worrying phenomenon.

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