Japan has appointed a “minister of loneliness” as the country deals with rising suicide rates.
According to Insider, the minister, Tetsushi Sakamoto, will be tasked with reducing loneliness and social isolation among residents through government policies.
Sakamoto is already in charge with dealing with Japan’s decreasing birthrate. Japan has one of the oldest populations in the world and its citizens aren’t having as many babies as it wants, which means a majority of its people are elderly.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had told Sakamoto earlier that women are suffering from isolation more than men and the number of suicides is on the rise.
In fact, during the Covid-19 pandemic Japan saw a rise in suicides for the first time in 11 years. There were 2,153 suicides in Japan in October 2020, compared to 1,765 Covid-19 deaths that year.
The Japan Times quoted police statistics that said, 20,919 people took their own lives in 2020, up 750 from the previous year.