Measures to tackle loneliness, isolation

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Japanese government Tuesday adopted priority measures to help lonely and isolated people, such as the establishment of around-the-clock consultation services for them and their families.

A plan including the measures was endorsed at the first meeting of the government’s new task force on loneliness and social isolation, chaired by Seiko Noda, minister in charge of the issue.

“It is very significant that a priority plan that will be a platform for the government to tackle the issue of loneliness and isolation as one team has been adopted for the first time,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told the meeting.

Under the plan, the government will offer the around-the-clock consultation services through telephone and social media and promote efforts to help lonely and isolated people to be connected with local community members.

The issue of loneliness and social isolation has become even more serious amid the novel coronavirus crisis. More and more people worry about their lives, and the number of suicide cases has jumped.

Against the backdrop, the government set up a panel of experts to discuss the government’s basic philosophy in addressing the issue.

The adopted plan said that loneliness and social isolation is a problem that can happen to anyone and should be addressed by the entire society. It urges the government to work more closely with the private sector and nonprofit organizations.