Japan appointed a new Minister of 'Loneliness' after suicide rates reportedly soared in the country after 11 years. Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga added Tetsushi Sakamoto as the Minister of Loneliness to his cabinet to reduce loneliness and social isolation among its residents.
The Japanese government's decision was taken in the wake of rising loneliness, depression, and suicide rates that have been recorded during the pandemic. The Japanese government also created an "isolation or loneliness countermeasures office" within the cabinet on February 19 to redress issues like suicide and child poverty.
In October, more people died from suicide than from Covid-19 in Japan in all of 2020. Women in Japan, in particular, have contributed to the increasing number of suicide cases. In October last year, 879 women committed suicide, 70 per cent higher than the same month in 2019.
Multitudes of studies have shown that loneliness is linked to a higher risk of health issues like heart disease, dementia, and eating disorders.
Japan is currently in the midst of the third wave of infections which has prompted the nation to shut more restaurants and bars, causing the workers to lose their jobs. Having no source of a steady income and many other reasons like the lonely life led during lockdown is suspected of having caused the sudden soar in suicide rates.
Japan reports suicides faster and more accurately than anywhere else globally, but the country was seeing a significant reduction in the rate during the past decade. Tetsushi Sakamoto was previously in charge of combating the nation's falling birth rate and revitalizing regional economies.
The United Kingdom was the first country to appoint a loneliness minister in 2018 after a 2017 report revealed that more than nine million people in the UK felt lonely.