Tuesday Feb 23, 2021
Japan has appointed Tetsushi Sakamoto as "loneliness minister" in order to combat a surging suicide rate amid the unprecedented pandemic leaving people prone to psychological disorders.
Sakamoto already had a portfolio for regional revitalisation minister in Japan.
According to a news report published in The Japan Times, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga introduced the new portfolio of minister of loneliness to his Cabinet earlier this month, following the example of the UK, which in 2018 became the first country to create a similar role.
During a news conference, Sakamoto said: “I hope to carry out activities to prevent social loneliness and isolation and to protect ties between people.”
Meanwhile, the Japanese prime minister pinned his hopes on the newly appointed minister saying: “Women are suffering from isolation more (than men are), and the number of suicides is on a rising trend. I hope you will identify problems and promote policy measures comprehensively."
Touching upon his plans to counter the surging numbers of suicides amid pandemic, the minister said that he plans to hold an emergency forum in late February to listen to opinions from those helping people who face loneliness and isolation and discuss support measures. Suga plans to attend the forum.
Amid the spread of infections, combating loneliness and isolation, which are linked to such issues as poverty, social withdrawal, and suicide, is an urgent task, he stressed.
On the other hand, some lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have been voluntarily studying the issue, the publication reported.