What’s a Minister of Loneliness?

When everyone around the world was afraid of the virus, the people in Japan were afraid of something else too.

You might be thinking that such a position doesn’t even exist. But, surprise, it does exist. Not in India ofcourse. But in Japan, the government is so worried about their people and their loneliness, that they created a whole new position to overcome this ‘serious’ issue. Only if all the governments were so caring! But why would a developed country like Japan need to appoint such a minister? Is loneliness such a serious problem? The answer is yes. Because last year Japan saw a increase in their suicide rates for the first time in almost 11 years.

But why this sudden increase in the suicide rate? And what is more shocking is that 70% of this statistics includes women. That means women the rate of suicides in women is tremendously more than in men. But what’s the reason? The COVID pandemic! As if the virus wasn’t already taking enough lives. The Japanese government saw a huge rise in the suicide rate because of the isolation people were faced to live in due to the lockdown. Loneliness isn’t a new issue to Japan. It has been in the country for a long time. Many people tend to live in extreme social isolation. Either due to personal reasons or other unknown reasons. And it’s not that the government never took any measures to solve this issue.

For example, a robot was designed to hold hands of the people whenever they felt lonely. Even new jobs were created because of this. People would pay other people to do nothing other than keep them company.

However, these measures were not enough during the lockdown. Especially for women. Most of the women in Japan are either divorced or not married and most of them live alone because of their job. Some of them don’t even have job security. And in this pandemic all these problems took a turn for worse. And the result was more suicides than ever. Even more shocking was the fact that the number of deaths caused by suicides were higher than the number of people died due to COVID. 2,153 dies due to suicide whereas 1,765 people died due the virus. And out of 2,153, 879 were women. This was the data collected by the government till the month of October.

So, it wasn’t a surprise when Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga appointed Tetsushi Sakamoto as the new and the first Minister of Loneliness. He is also the Minister for controlling the declining birth rates in Japan. The Prime Minister hopes that Sakamoto will figure out the major causes of Loneliness and take effective measures to improve the quality of life of its people. Other governments like the UK have also appointed such Ministers and even the government of Australia is looking forward to this step. One can only wonder when the Indian government will realise the necessity of such measure

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Chagan Kumawat

Chagan Kumawat