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The Japanese government now has a "minister of loneliness". It is the first time Japan has had such a minister. Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga created the role early February. He asked Tetsushi Sakamoto to fill the new position. Mr Suga wanted to do something the rise suicide cases. The number people taking their own lives has risen the pandemic. Japan's National Police Agency showed that 20,919 people died suicide in 2020. This is 750 more than the previous year. It is also the first consecutive rise suicides in 11 years. Mr Sakamoto told reporters: "I hope to promote activities that prevent loneliness and social isolation and to improve the ties people."

The police agency reported that there has been a much bigger rise suicides among women and young people. Prime Minister Suga said women have been struggling loneliness since the coronavirus pandemic started early 2020. He told reporters: "Women are suffering isolation more than men are, and the number suicides is a rising trend." There has been a 70 per cent year--year increase the number of women taking their own lives. Yoko Suzuki, a 23-year-old designer who lives Tokyo, said she has suffered loneliness since coronavirus started. She said: "Not seeing people smile behind their mask makes me sad and lonely." She added: "I want to see happy faces."

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