Japan appointed its first Minister of Solitude this month after the country’s suicide rate rose for the first time in eleven years during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Japan Times, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga added a minister for loneliness to his cabinet earlier this month, modeled on the UK, which became the first country to assume a similar role in 2018.
Yoshihide Suga has won Minister Tetsushi Sakamoto, who is also responsible for combating the falling birth rate in the country and revitalizing the regional economy, for the new portfolio.
In his opening news conference, Mr. Sakamoto said Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had appointed him to address national issues, “including the issue of the rising suicide rate among women under the pandemic,” according to CNN.
“(Prime Minister of Japan) Suga has directed me to investigate the issue and come up with a comprehensive strategy by coordinating with the relevant ministry. I hope to be able to undertake activities to prevent social loneliness and isolation and human relationships to protect, “Sakamoto said added.
CNN reported that on February 19, the Japanese government set up an “Isolation / Loneliness Countermeasures Office” in the cabinet on issues such as suicide and child poverty, which have increased during the pandemic.
The country has recorded more than 426,000 COVID-19 cases and 7,577 deaths, according to John Hopkins University.