New Delhi (NVI): Japan has appointed a ‘Minister of Loneliness’ to tackle issue of loneliness and isolation in the country after an alarming rise in the number of suicide cases for the first time in 11 years.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, earlier this month, appointed Tetsushi Sakamoto as the Minister of Loneliness to combat the rising suicide rates, according to the Japan Times.
Sakamoto is already a Minister in charge of dealing with Japan’s declining birthrate and promoting regional revitalisation. He will now also supervise government policies to deal with loneliness and isolation among its citizens.
Last year, the country reported rise in suicides during the pandemic with people more socially isolated than ever amid COVID-19 restrictions. Japan saw a rise in suicides for the first time in over a decade as the pandemic reversed years of progress in combatting high suicide rates, the reports said.
In October, more people died from suicide than had died from COVID-19 in Japan in all of 2020 with the numbers showing women as particularly vulnerable. More than 2,150 suicide deaths were reported that month and 1,765 total COVID-19 deaths up to the end of October last year, as per the Japanese National Police Agency.
During the same month, 879 women died by suicide, representing a 70 percent increase from the same month in 2019.
The Prime Minister at a news conference while announcing Sakamoto’s new role as Minister of Loneliness said, “Women are suffering from isolation more than men are and the number of suicides is on a rising trend.”
The country’s new Loneliness Minister earlier at a conference said, “He planned to hold an emergency forum in late February to hear concerns from people dealing with loneliness and isolation.”
“I hope to carry out activities to prevent social loneliness and isolation and to protect ties between people,” Sakamoto added.
Japan is not the only nation to come up with such measures to tackle loneliness. Earlier in 2018, the United Kingdom government also created a cabinet of ministers to fight loneliness, especially among its elderly.