Tokyo: Japan has appointed its first Minister for Loneliness after the country witnessed a sharp rise in its suicide rate for the first time in 11 years during the Coronavirus pandemic. ALSO READ | Facebook To Restore News Pages In Australia After Cutting A Deal With The Government
In 2018, UK had become the first country to create such a role and according to The Japan Times, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has added a minister of loneliness to his Cabinet earlier this month following that example.
Recently, a report revealed an increase in suicides during 2020 with the number of suicide cases pertaining to women and young people surging. According to the new data, the female suicide rate increased by 14.5 percent, with the total number reaching 6,976, the highest in five years, while male suicides dropped 1 percent to 13,943 for the 11th straight year.
Japanese women are believed to have been particularly struggling with depression since the beginning of coronavirus pandemic. The stress could be pertaining to having unstable jobs or undergoing strain in balancing responsibilities of work and catering to the needs of the family.
Minister Tetsushi Sakamoto, who is also in charge of combating the nation’s falling birth rate and revitalising regional economies, has been given the charge for the new portfolio.
In his inaugural press conference, Sakamoto said Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga appointed him to address national matters “including the issue of the increasing women’s suicide rate under the pandemic,” as quoted by CNN.
“(Japan PM) Suga instructed me to examine the issue and put forward a comprehensive strategy, by coordinating with the related ministry… I hope to carry out activities to prevent social loneliness and isolation and to protect ties between people,” Sakamoto added.
The Japanese government is also reported to have created an “isolation/loneliness countermeasures office” within the cabinet on February 19 for issues such as suicide and child poverty that have risen during the pandemic.
(With Agency Inputs)