Tired of life, people are ‘disappearing’ leaving their families, companies helping to start a new life.
Tormented by the shame of a lost job, failed marriage, or mounting debt, thousands of Japanese citizens have reportedly started leaving behind their formal identities and seeking refuge in the anonymous, off-the-grid world.
These people are referred to as “jouhatsu”. That’s the Japanese word for “evaporation”, but it also refers to people who vanish on purpose into thin air, and continue to conceal their whereabouts — potentially for years, even decades.
None of these people physically vanish, per se; the “evaporation” is more of an administrative disappearance. Similar to those in the Witness Protection Program in the US, johatsu opt to change their names, addresses, and business ties. They can essentially wipe the slate clean.
In Japan this escape can be surprisingly easy. Japanese privacy laws give citizens a great deal of freedom in keeping their whereabouts under wraps. Only in criminal cases can the police mine people’s personal data, and relatives can’t look up financial records.