The Bizarre Japanese Companies That Help People Disappear

Brilliant News -- Feb 23
"Johatsu" means "Evaporated People" and it is the term the Japanese use for when people disappear without a trace.

The number of missing persons cases in Japan has been rising steadily from under 80,000 in 2015 to close to 90,000 in 2019, while the Missing Persons Search Support Association in Japan estimates this number to be a lot higher. Although these disappearances are on the increase in recent times, the problem isn't a new one. "Kamikakushi" means "Spirited away" and is an old word used for people who disappeared without trace, for they used to believe that they had literally been hidden by the Gods.

Why Do They Disappear?

Business troubles, Family problems, diseases, and domestic violence are the official causes, but the need to disappear seems to stem from a more profound source, deep in the roots of Japanese culture.

Japanese culture is "Sekentei" which basically means it's a culture obsessed with keeping up appearances, "pride and honor" rule above all, and "shame" is a very heavy burden.

If your business fails or you cannot provide for your family, or you're ill and know you will become a burden to your loved ones, all these things can lead to you feeling so much shame that you cannot look your loved ones in the eye, your embarrassment for your shortcomings becomes much that you just want to disappear, and so, you do.

How Do They Disappear?

In general, people keep their shame hidden, no family member knows about it.

One day it justs gets too much and instead of going to work, they just up a leave.

There are however agencies that are dedicated to helping the "Johatsu".

These agencies are known as "Yonige-Ya" which means "Fly-by-Night shops", originally dedicated to helping people escape loan-sharks, nowaways their cause is far more noble, the Majority of their clients are victims of domestic violence, who with nowhere left to turn, chose to flee.

Unlike your traditional moving agency, the Yonige-ya prepare your next residence for you, they apply to the government to keep your new address and contact info private, they prepare school and nursery paperwork for your children, and meticulously prepare your escape, all in complete secrecy.

On the day of escape, they arrive at the house shortly after the abusive spouse has left and rapidly box up all your belongings, they then transport you along with your children and belongings to your new home. The service doesn't end here though, they continue to give their clients advice on how to remain hidden and help clients with any separation or divorce paperwork that may be needed.

But Is It Really Possible To Stay Invisible In The 21st Century?

Well, the short answer is, that in Japan, it is!

The police won't even look for the "Johatsu" because there is no legal requirement to look for missing people if those people left of their own free will.

So the only option to find them is through a private investigator.

But the Japanese have very strict privacy laws coupled with "The Personal Data Protection Act" this means that your personal data can't be accessed even by the police unless you've committed a crime, access is still restricted even after you are dead.

Immigration authorities and banks will release no client data to anyone, even family members, under no circumstances, so the Private investigator is extremely limited in where and what he can look for.

Personal Freedom is very much respected in japan and personal freedom dictates that a person is free to leave and to come back as they please or to not come back if they so please.

Catch 22.

Quite a large percentage of the "Johatsu" miss their families and would like to return, but feel that they could face the shame of having been selfish enough to have left them.

So we end where we started, In shame, we flee and In shame, we remain.

- Brilliant News