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Japan appoints 'minister of loneliness' to help people home alone

Rise in suicides pushes Suga to tackle issue as major COVID challenge

The pandemic has been particularly isolating for Japan's older population, who are not used to communicating online.

TOKYO -- Telework and the lack of social gatherings during Japan's fight against the coronavirus have left people feeling increasingly stressed and lonely. Pandemic-linked isolation has been blamed for the first uptick in Japanese suicides in 11 years.

Recognizing a serious problem, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday launched a designated cabinet post to alleviate social isolation. Tetsushi Sakamoto, who has been tapped for the job, will work as the coordinator for efforts across multiple ministries and agencies.

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