Japan Starts Addressing Loneliness among Expatriates

Politics

Tokyo, July 19 (Jiji Press)--The Foreign Ministry has launched a project to address the issue of loneliness and isolation among Japanese nationals living abroad in cooperation with five nonprofit organizations.

The ministry connects expatiates who feel lonely and isolated to the NPOs to help them consult with staff of the groups using chat apps and social media. It also set up a hotline with the NPOs so that they can report urgent cases, such as domestic violence and child abuse, and personnel at Japanese diplomatic offices abroad can handle them quickly.

In February, the Japanese government established an office and a ministerial post for tackling social loneliness and isolation, which has been increasingly serious amid the continuing novel coronavirus pandemic. The ministry is finding it necessary to take measures for Japanese expatriates because lockdown and other strict COVID-19 countermeasures being taken abroad may increase their sense of isolation.

According to a survey by the ministry, suicide was the second leading cause of death among Japanese nationals living abroad in 2019, following injury and illness. People living abroad especially could face the issue of loneliness and isolation, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told a press conference on July 9, when the ministry's project was launched. "We would like to make efforts to carefully listen to the voices of such people."

The five NPOs joining the project include Anata no Ibasho, which offers a 24-hour online chat service, and Childline Support Center, which provides support for those aged 18 or under.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press