Japan: Government strategy to fight loneliness

TOKYO — With the first uptick in suicides nationwide in 11 years amid pandemic-linked restrictions, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has created a cabinet post to alleviate social isolation.

Older Japanese unaccustomed to communicating online have become more isolated from the outside world as they are encouraged to stay home and avoid crowds. Even tech-savvy younger generations have struggled with protracted social-distancing efforts, exacerbated by economic stress from losing jobs in many cases.

“I hope to promote activities that prevent loneliness and social isolation and protect the ties between people,” Tetsushi Sakamoto, who was tapped for the post, told reporters following his meeting with Suga.

Japan has the highest suicide rate among the Group of Seven leading industrial nations. (Nikkei)