Loneliness has become an increasing problem in Japan in the past couple of decades with the country witnessing a sharp growth in the elderly population. To tackle the problem, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday appointed Tetsushi Sakamoto as the country's first Minister of Loneliness. Sakamoto will work with other ministries and agencies to effectively implement policies meant to reduce social isolation.
Suga and his cabinet members on Friday agreed to establish a cabinet-level position to tackle the loneliness issue in the country. Suga appointed Sakamoto as the country's first Loneliness Minister, handing him the responsibility to reduce social isolation at a time when lockdowns across the world have forced people into the confinement of their homes. The new minister will also be responsible for bringing down the suicides in Japan, a country with one of the world's highest suicide rates.
According to reports, Suga told Sakamoto to look into why women especially are facing more isolation and are dying by suicide. Suga asked his minister to develop a strategy to bring down the suicide rate among women in the country. Sakamoto is reportedly planning to form an interagency team to communicate and coordinate better and also expected to hold meetings with advocacy groups and other stakeholders.
According to Japanese media reports, Sakamoto is planning to reduce social isolation by promoting activities that prevent loneliness. Suga's other responsibilities as Minister of Loneliness include increasing the birthrate in the country. According to the Japanese Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry, Japan has over 13 million people living alone. The ministry estimated that by 2040, about 39% of Japan's 120 million people will live alone.