Japan appoints ‘loneliness minister’ to tackle suicides

Japan has appointed its first minister for loneliness this month after the country’s suicide rate increased for the first time in 11 years during the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Japan Times, PM Yoshihide Suga added a minister of loneliness to his cabinet earlier this month, following the example of the UK, which in 2018 became the first country to do so. Suga tapped minister Tetsushi Sakamoto, who is also in charge of combating the nation’s falling birth rate and revitalising regional economies, for the new portfolio.
In his inaugural press conference, Sakamoto said PM Suga appointed him to address national matters “including the issue of the increasing women’s suicide rate under the pandemic,” according to CNN.
“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,” he added. CNN reported that the government also created an “isolation/loneliness countermeasures office” within the cabinet.

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