Japan Appoints a “Minister of Loneliness”


Photo courtesy of Insider.com

Sarah Cook

As Japan has seen an immense increase in suicide rates over the past few months, Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, has chosen to combat this problem by appointing a “Minister of Loneliness.” Tetsushi Sakamoto was appointed as the Minister of Loneliness earlier this month, and he will work to impede the suicide rates the country has recently been seeing. Suicide has become such a problem, Insider tells readers, that more people died from suicide in Japan than the total number of Covid-19 deaths up to that point in 2020, being the end of October. In addition to this, Japan Times tells how suicide rates in Japan are ranked second highest among industrealized countries, following Russia. Overall, Sakamotos goal will be to identify the problems for the increased suicide rates, and propose solutions for the nation. 


Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, people in Japan were more isolated than ever before. Because of this, peoples loneliness got the best of them, and suicide rates rose for the first time in 11 years. Women in particular have suffered most. Insider.com shows that in October of 2020 alone 879 women died by suicide, a 70% increase from the year before.  


Because the suicide issue is alarming everyone, Japan decided to aid this problem by appointing Sakamoto to another job. Sakamoto is already Minister regarding the declining birth rates in the country, and in charge of economic revitalization. He was elected as the Minister of Loneliness earlier this month, and the nation is hopeful he will bring positive changes. As Prime Minister Suga has shared with Japan Times,  “I hope you will identify problems and promote policy measures comprehensively.”


In a recent news conference, Insider shares that Sakamoto has stated, “I hope to carry out activities to prevent social loneliness and isolation and to protect ties between people.” To do this, he plans to hold conferences where citizens can express their concerns, and he can better take action regarding their answers. Some far-range solutions that have been in the works would be a robot, made to hold people’s hand when they’re lonely, and one man even charges people to do nothing but keep them company. It may be small acts like these that help save the country from suicides increasing more.