This year, the ward will host several hybrid (in-person and virtual) meetups to reunite individuals with social isolation issues and assist them in reintegration.
Utilizing The Metaverse For Hikikomori Reintegration Procedures
The Edogawa Ward is located in Tokyo and made it public recently that it will organize a series of meetings using the metaverse. These offerings made by the ward are part of the procedures to help reintegrate people experiencing social isolation back into society.
The meeting will be held virtually or in person, allowing people with social recluses in that area to attend in person or online. Thus, it allows for a better meeting atmosphere and effective communication about problems this group faces.
The event is organized by Kazoku Hikikomori, a non-profit organization in Japan, and it will be held six times this year with a total capacity of approximately 80 participants. The participants will be divided into two sections. Fifty participants will utilize the metaverse platform, while 30 will be allocated a venue.
Meetings will be hosted in a metaverse space created by Kazoku Hikikomori. A peculiar feature of this space is the ability for remote users to hide their identities by using avatars of their choice.
A ward officer spoke about this project and said they want to provide a space where people can think about being with others.
The Hikikomori Problem
Hikikomori, also known as the social exclusion problem in Japan, is a mental state that affects only a small number of people in the country. Individuals suffering from these issues isolate themselves from society, refusing to communicate or interact with others on purpose.
This condition has been estimated to have affected more than a million Japanese. Although experts say, the number is higher than mentioned, possibly closing in on the 2 million mark.
These persons’ families may have several issues due to this predicament. Due to their condition, they may be unable to care for themselves and must rely entirely on their family, placing a financial and physical burden on them and their family.
Some of these people may presumably benefit from the addition of metaverse-based strategies in handling this situation by being able to at least connect digitally with their peers. Takeshi Saito, the mayor of Edogawa Ward, commented on the scope of this activity and its importance, saying that they are not expecting everything to be fixed because of these metaverse offerings.
This initiative will most likely benefit those who haven’t interacted with others and cannot leave their rooms. In Toda City, another effort of this nature was unveiled in October 2022.
It similarly employs metaverse technology to let students explore virtual campuses while getting ready to attend actual classrooms eventually.
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