In a first, Japan has appointed Minister of Loneliness this month to deal with the growing suicide rate in the country amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, as per media reports.

The suicide rate in Japan has increased first time in 11 years owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to The Japan Times, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga appointed a minister of loneliness to his Cabinet earlier this month, following the example of the United Kingdom, which in 2018 became the first country to appoint a minister with a similar designation.

Suga appointed minister Tetsushi Sakamoto, who is also in charge of alleviating the nation’s falling birth rate and revitalising regional economies, for the new portfolio, Japan Times reported.

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In his inaugural press conference, Sakamoto revealed that the PM appointed him to deal with national issues “including the issue of the increasing women’s suicide rate under the pandemic,” according to CNN.

“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.

CNN report further added that the Japanese government also made an “isolation/loneliness countermeasures office” within the cabinet on February 19 for issues such as suicide and child poverty.