People are “disappearing,” leaving their family behind because they are tired of life, and businesses are assisting with the start of a new life.
Thousands of Japanese individuals have apparently started abandoning their legal identities and looking for shelter in the anonymous, off-the-grid world because they are tormented by the embarrassment of a lost job, broken marriage, or increasing debt.
The term “jouhatsu” is used to describe these people. That is the Japanese word for “evaporation,” but it also describes those who intentionally disappear into thin air and maintain secrecy about their location for a long period of time, maybe decades.
No one in this group actually disappears; rather, there is an administrative disappearance rather than a physical absence. The johatsu choose to alter their identities, residences, and professional affiliations, much like those in the Witness Protection Program in the US. They are able to virtually start over.
This escape may be surprisingly simple in Japan. The flexibility to conceal one’s location is greatly increased by Japan’s privacy regulations. Family members cannot search financial records, and the police can only access personal information in criminal instances.