In an effort to solve the surge in suicide rates for the first time in 11 years due to the coronavirus crisis, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had appointed Tetsushi Sakamoto as its first-ever Minister for Loneliness. Apart from this, Sakamoto is also in charge of managing the nation’s declining birth rate and building regional economies.
Following Britain’s lead, Japanese government created an isolation/ loneliness countermeasures office in its cabinet on February 19 to tackle issues like suicide and child poverty.
Sakamoto said in his inaugural press conference Prime Minister Suga has appointed him to solve matters of national importance “including the issue of increasing women’s suicide rate under the pandemic.”
He further added, “(Japan PM) Suga instructed me to assess the issues 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.”
As per Japanese suicide expert Michiko Ueda, “A lot of women are not married. They have to support their own lives, and they don’t have permanent jobs. So when something happens, of course, they are hit very very hard.”