by Ewa Nowogorski
Japan is a country that is ironically alone at the same time that it is united. In Japan’s social environment, one is expected to think about the comfort of others over themselves. In prioritizing the peace and harmony of the community as a whole, people have shut their own personal feelings and desires in a box and have distanced their true selves from the social world they interact in, becoming very lonely. People in Japan are simply unable to be true to themselves, sometimes even in casual situations, and this creates a recipe for social reclusion.
Recently, in order to combat the loneliness crisis in Japan, recently selected Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has appointed Tetsushi Sakamoto as its first-ever Minister for Loneliness. Loneliness often bears ugly consequences, and Japan is a very suicide-prone country. It has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and the suicide rate among women in particular has significantly increased since the coronavirus pandemic started.
In Japan, loneliness afflicts across different age groups, including children, young people, women and older people. The emotional toll of loneliness can lead to heart disease and numerous other conditions Mr. Suga hopes to research loneliness and enact countermeasures to help Japanese people feel lonely, although at this moment it is unclear what sort of concrete goals Suga has. For starters, a general awareness of the dangers of loneliness and helping to prevent one from falling into such a state should be the priority for solving the problems Japan is facing, as it simply cannot idly stand by and wait for the problems to solve themselves.