To many it may sound strange, but with a great move towards the well-being of its citizens, Japan has appointed Minister for Loneliness this month after the country's suicide rate increased for the first time in 11 years during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to reports, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga added a minister of loneliness to his Cabinet earlier this month, following the example of the UK, which in 2018 became the first country to create a similar role. Suga tapped minister Tetsushi Sakamoto, who is also in charge of combating the nation's falling birth rate and revitalising regional economies, for the new portfolio.
In his inaugural press conference, Sakamoto said that Suga appointed him to address national matters "including the issue of the increasing women's suicide rate under the pandemic," according to CNN.
"(Japan PM) Suga instructed me to examine the issue 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," Sakamoto added. Japanese government also formed an "isolation/loneliness countermeasures office" within the cabinet on February 19 for issues such as suicide and child poverty -- which have risen during the pandemic.