Japan has appointed a “Minister of Loneliness” in a bid to reduce loneliness and social isolation among its residents as the country deals with rising suicide rates.
According to The Japan Times, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga created the role in early February, taking after the U.K., which created its own such role in 2018.
Tetsushi Sakamoto will take on the role, the Times reported, while also handling the country’s falling birth rates and regional economies.
Figures from the National Police Agency showed that 20,919 people committed suicide in 2020, a 750-person increase from the previous year and the first consecutive rise in suicides in 11 years, the Times reported. According to the outlet, the surge is most noticeable among women and young people.
Suga said to the country’s budget committee earlier this month that people from all walks of life are vulnerable, the Times reported.