Govt to tackle pandemic-related isolation

oYomiuri Shimbun file phot
The Prime Minister’s Office

The ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic is causing many people to feel isolated or alienated from society, prompting the government to set up a public-private partnership project to help support individuals dealing with such issues as unemployment.

The scheme involves about 30 local governments, nonprofit organizations and social welfare councils creating working groups that will share information on isolated people and provide them with places to stay.

The government earmarked ¥1 billion for the project in April as part of its emergency economic measures.

The working groups will be launched this month at the earliest in about 10 prefectural governments and about 20 municipal governments.

Each local government will be responsible for enlisting support from local nonprofit organizations and social welfare councils that deal with isolation and alienation issues.

To better understand people’s needs, the groups will step up information-sharing among member organizations and other authorities and talk to people in need of support.

The groups plan to identify support-related problems and eventually expand their activities across the country.

As an emergency measure in some areas, affected people will have access to an around-the-clock consultation service via telephone or social media.

The government compiled a program in December to deal with loneliness-related matters, saying measures to tackle the issue should be improved, and that isolation and alienation can strike anyone, so society as a whole must confront the problem.

In April, the government published the results of its first-ever national fact-finding survey on isolation and alienation.

The survey showed that the younger the respondent, the higher the likelihood of them feeling lonely in some way. More than 40% of respondents in their 20s and 30s said they felt alone.

Related nonprofit organizations receive many consultation requests from university students who cannot make friends because lectures are being held remotely.