Japan appointed its first Minister for Loneliness this month after the country’s suicide rate increased for the first time in 11 years during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tetsushi Sakamoto took over the newly created position on February 12.
In his inaugural press conference, Sakamoto said Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga appointed him to address national matters "including the issue of the increasing women's suicide rate under the pandemic."
"Suga instructed me to examine the issue and put forward a comprehensive strategy, by coordinating with the related ministry," Sakamoto added. “I hope to carry out activities to prevent social loneliness and isolation and to protect ties between people.”
The Japanese government also created an "isolation/loneliness countermeasures office" within the cabinet on February 19 for issues such as suicide and child poverty -- which have risen during the pandemic.
Japan has so far recorded more than 426,000 Covid-19 cases and 7,577 deaths, according to data from John Hopkins University.
It has so far administered more than 5,000 vaccine doses.