Japan has a "minister of loneliness". Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga created the role in February. Mr Suga wanted to stop the rise in suicide cases. More people are taking their own lives in the pandemic. Japan's police said 20,919 people died by suicide in 2020. This is 750 more than the year before. The minister told reporters: "I hope to promote activities that prevent loneliness and social isolation and to improve the ties between people."
The police said there was a bigger rise in suicide among women. More women are lonely because of the coronavirus pandemic. He told reporters: "Women are suffering from isolation more than men are." There has been a 70 per cent increase in the number of women taking their own lives. A 23-year-old designer said she misses not seeing people smile behind their mask. It makes her feel sad and lonely. She said: "I want to see happy faces."