Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga appointed a ‘Minister of Loneliness’ after preliminary data shows an increase of nearly 4% in suicides in 2020.
Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga appointed Tetsushi Sakamoto as the country’s first Minister of Loneliness.
The United Kingdom created a similar position in 2018. Theresa May appointed lawmaker Tracey Crouch Minister of Loneliness to tackle “the sad reality of modern life”.
Japan’s move comes as preliminary data from the National Police Agency shows that 20,919 suicides occurred in 2020, nearly a 4% increase since 2019. With suicides increasing two years in a row, Japan is witnessing its first consecutive rise in suicides in 11 years.
According to the Japan Times, the increase is “largely attributed to a noticeable rise in suicides among women and young people”.
A 2005 survey from the OECD found that Japan had the highest proportion of males who “rarely or never spend time with friends, colleagues, or others in social groups”, which averages 6% in OECD countries. In Japan, that figure is nearly 17%.
Three ministers have taken the position of Minister of Loneliness in the UK since its creation in 2018. The results have been questionable.
In 2020, there were 6 times more suicide deaths than COVID-19 deaths in Japan. In 2020, 20,919 individuals died from suicide and 3,460 people died of COVID-19 in the country.
A recent poll from Ipsos shows that Canadians are also feeling the pandemic-exacerbated loneliness. The poll shows that 54% of Canadians say “physical distancing has left them feeling lonely or isolated”.
Among the respondents, young adults under 35 years-old reported feeling the most isolated.