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Japan's Evaporated People

posted by Jason Kottke May 16, 2023

In Japan, people who disappear from their lives are called "evaporated people". People choose to drop out of their lives for different reasons, ranging from debt or abuse to mental health struggles or a lack of second chances in Japanese society. Some Japanese who want to go into hiding or relocate from domestic abuse or stalkers hire "night movers" to help them disappear.

For more info, here's a long piece from Time magazine from 2017.

Sometimes a whole team works on a client's disappearance, swiftly sweeping through an apartment in the dead of night. At TS, it costs between ¥50,000 ($450) and ¥300,000 ($2,600) depending on the amount of possessions somebody wants to flee with, how far they're going, and whether the move needs to happen under the cover of darkness. Taking along children, or evading debt collectors, can push prices higher. Every day, TS receives between five and 10 inquiries like the one Saita described. Most people simply require counseling or legal advice but the company claims to help between 100 and 150 people to vanish annually.