Helping people with their debt allows for a rewarding law practice. Especially when the service provided is made affordable and the process streamlined to make things as easy as possible for clients. We hear many accounts from our clients about how difficult it is to exist when their financial burden is so high and their income so low. It’s also very rewarding when to see our clients assisted by their religious leaders and fellow church members. Fortunately, there are many charitable people here in California. Without exception the people our bankruptcy law firm encounters who are struggling have managed to maintain their dignity despite the adversities. And we have helped those whose adversities have been substantial. The people we have seen have maintained their self-worth.
This is not the case universally. Thus, it’s interesting to read the article by Maureen Callahan in the New York Post that describes the way financial set-backs are perceived in Japan. For many of the so called ‘evaporating people’ in Japan coping with their financial set-backs results in their addressing their perceived shame by vanishing. Below is an excerpt from Callahan’s interesting account of these ‘evaporating people.
The chilling stories behind Japan’s ‘evaporating people’
By Maureen Callahan December 10, 2016
As a newlywed in the 1980s, a Japanese martial arts master named Ichiro expected only good things. He and his wife, Tomoko, lived among the cherry blossoms in Saitima, a prosperous city just outside of Tokyo. The couple had their first child, a boy named Tim. They owned their house, and took out a loan to open a dumpling restaurant. Then the market crashed.
Suddenly, Ichiro and Tomoko were deeply in debt. So they did what hundreds of thousands of Japanese have done in similar circumstances: They sold their house, packed up their family, and disappeared. For good.“People are cowards,” Ichiro says today. “They all want to throw in the towel one day, to disappear and reappear somewhere nobody knows them. I never envisioned running away to be an end in itself . . . You know, a disappearance is something you can never shake. Fleeing is a fast track toward death.” Of the many oddities that are culturally specific to Japan — from cat cafés to graveyard eviction notices to the infamous Suicide Forest, where an estimated 100 people per year take their own lives — perhaps none is as little known, and curious, as “the evaporated people.”Since the mid-1990s, it’s estimated that at least 100,000 Japanese men and women vanish annually. They are the architects of their own disappearances, banishing themselves over indignities large and small: divorce, debt, job loss, failing an exam.
Modal Trigger “The Vanished: The Evaporated People of Japan in Stories and Photographs” (Skyhorse) is the first known, in-depth reportage of this phenomenon. French journalist Léna Mauger learned of it in 2008, and spent the next five years reporting a story she and collaborator Stéphane Remael couldn’t believe.“It’s so taboo,” Mauger tells The Post. “It’s something you can’t really talk about. But people can disappear because there’s another society underneath Japan’s society. When people disappear, they know they can find a way to survive.”These lost souls, it turns out, live in lost cities of their own making.The city of Sanya, as Mauger writes, isn’t located on any map. Technically, it doesn’t even exist. It’s a slum within Tokyo, one whose name has been erased by authorities. What work can be found here is run by the yakuza — the Japanese mafia — or employers looking for cheap, off-the-books labor. The evaporated live in tiny, squalid hotel rooms, often without Internet or private toilets. Talking in most hotels is forbidden after 6 p.m. Here, Mauger met a man named Norihiro. Now 50, he disappeared himself 10 years ago. He’d been cheating on his wife, but his true disgrace was losing his job as an engineer. Too ashamed to tell his family, Norihiro initially kept up appearances: he’d get up early each weekday, put on his suit and tie, grab his briefcase and kiss his wife goodbye. Then he’d drive to his former office building and spend the entire workday sitting in his car — not eating, not calling anyone. Norihiro did this for one week. The fear that his true situation would be discovered was unbearable. “I couldn’t do it anymore,” he tells Mauger. “After 19 hours I was still waiting, because I used to go out for drinks with my bosses and colleagues. I would roam around, and when I finally returned home, I got the impression my wife and son had doubts. I felt guilty. I didn’t have a salary to give them anymore.” ‘I could certainly take back my old identity… But I don’t want my family to see me in this state. Look at me. I look like nothing. I am nothing.’ On what would have been his payday, Norihiro groomed himself immaculately, and got on his usual train line — in the other direction, right toward Sanya. He left no word, no note, and for all his family knows, he wandered into Suicide Forest and killed himself. Today, he lives under an assumed name, in a windowless room he secures with a padlock. He drinks and smokes too much, and has resolved to live out the rest of his days practicing this most masochistic form of penance. “After all this time,” Norihiro says, “I could certainly take back my old identity . . . But I don’t want my family to see me in this state. Look at me. I look like nothing. I am nothing. If I die tomorrow, I don’t want anyone to be able to recognize me.”
Yuichi is a former construction worker who vanished in the mid-1990s. He’d been taking care of his sick mother, and the expenses involved — home health care, food, rent — bankrupted him. “I couldn’t handle failing my mother,” he says. “She had given me everything, but I was incapable of taking care of her.”What Yuichi did next may seem paradoxical, perverse even — but in Japanese culture, in which suicide is considered the most dignified way to erase the shame one has visited upon their family, it makes sense. He brought his mother to a ch
Yuichi is a former construction worker who vanished in the mid-1990s. He’d been taking care of his sick mother, and the expenses involved — home health care, food, rent — bankrupted him.
“I couldn’t handle failing my mother,” he says. “She had given me everything, but I was incapable of taking care of her.”
What Yuichi did next may seem paradoxical, perverse even — but in Japanese culture, in which suicide is considered the most dignified way to erase the shame one has visited upon their family, it makes sense. He brought his mother to a cheap hotel, rented her a room, and left her there, never to return.
He disappeared to Sanya.
Here, Yuichi says, “You see people in the street, but they have already ceased to exist. When we fled from society, we disappeared the first time. Here, we are killing ourselves slowly.”
“Evaporations” have surged in Japan at key points: the aftermath of World War II, when national shame was at its apex, and in the aftermath of the financial crises of 1989 and 2008.
Read the entire story of this fascinating article by Maureen Callahan with the link below.