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Japan aims to reduce suicides by 30% in 10 years

32 Comments
By TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA

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For me a big factor that leaves people feeling helpless here is the ideology of Japans "Senpai" "Kohai"! This leaves many kids and adults feeling powerless and no matter how hard they try the Senpai will always be condescending and demanding of unpractical things. The Senpai also has a bad rep for not actually listening or taking suggestions.

Unfortunately this ideology is deeply ingrained in Japans culture and society. I got in an argument last week when an elder who tried to pull this on me. Just because he is older he thought he could boss me around. I pushed him after he confronted me telling him Im human like you, I will treat you equally but I too respect the same, if you want things nasty between us that can be easily done as Im not going to kiss your ass!

He sulked and 2 hours later was my buddy again! I just don't get it! Its demeaning and builds grudges deeply inside people as most Japanese can't bluntly say what they think or feel in situations like this.

If this Superior/ Inferior ideology was broken here it would give employees and students the personal freedom to start saying and doing things they actually feel and think rather than only living on trying to build your reputation as a diligent person.

I have also tried doing open discussions about problems or events for both kids and adults here. You soon realize as a society Japan has very poor communication skills. Once again the stronger opinion instantly becomes everyones, but I hear the little voices who are against it but when confronted to just openly share their true feelings, they bow their heads and pretend all is good.

Im sorry, but culturally this problem isn't going to be solved that easily. I have tried for many years to just help people think freely but sadly they can't. People put themselves down and are always comparing their standards of others to theirs, once agin the Senpai Kohai ideology!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sorry but you can't just say it's up to us to show that their "methods" lowered the suicide rate.

Exactly what methods has the government employed? I am not seeing many changes.

What I do see is that the country experienced a brief respite from the terrible damage the Lehman Brothers crisis caused, and while Tohoku suffered from the 2011 earthquake, the rest of the country had a small economic rally around it.

But neither of those things are going to last forever and it looks like both of them are wearing off.

After the Olympics guts the city and fake, government subsidized construction and tourism projects dry up, what's going to happen? Look at Rio. I think we're going to see the suicide rate increase again around 2021 when all those useless workers get laid off from their bankrupt companies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Is the lower suicide rate compared to 10 years ago a result of government efforts?

I'd like to see proof that it is.

They've actively been working on reducing the suicide rate since 2007, when they first wrote a white paper on the matter, started investing a money into the proposals in the white paper, and put together groups to do it all.

The rate has since dropped 30%. Now if you think it's from something else, feel free to come up with your explanations. But it's up to you to show it wasn't their efforts, not for them to show it was. Because before they were doing anything, suicides were roughly 50% higher than they are now.

The suicides of human beings cannot be controlled through five year or six year plans.

They've already cut suicides by 30% since 2007.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

30% decrease in 10 years! Why set your goals so low? 100 hours of overtime a month, that's 5 hours of overtime per day! Based on a 5 day workweek that's ridiculous. If l had a job where I had to work so many hours l would be looking for a new job after the first week. Hope they get paid double time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The suicides of human beings cannot be controlled through five year or six year plans. We need to have a balance between home and office. Too much of materialism has paved way for hatred and jealousy. There is competition and everyone wants to be successful. No one knows what is success ? Too much of money is success? Too many cars and luxurious life style can be termed as success? Our march towards materialism without an iota of spiritual values and understanding the concept of contentment and happiness is like saying the operation is successful, but the patient is dead

No one knows, what we are searching for in life? We are caught between spiritual values, which have been thrown behind our backyards and too much of materialistic pursuits. Growing materially helps us nowhere to change our quality of life. We need to bring back the rich traditional spiritual values of Asia, instead of trying to import too much of materialistic values.

Life is more important than taking life of ours. Why we should lose our precious life in pursuit of something or not being to reach the target or goal . Our goals in life keep changing and we keep changing our goal posts very often. The goal posts are not our life. The goal posts are the destination we need to reach. The goal posts and life are different. Let us have a goal, which can uplift our quality of life without running our life and sapping our energy for the balance in our bank accounts.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Is the lower suicide rate compared to 10 years ago a result of government efforts?

I'd like to see proof that it is.

When I see articles like mental health institution's average of 90+ days in restraints and forced detention, I have a hard time believing that the government is even close to the right track when it comes to mental health issues.

What exactly are the mental health options in Japan for a 40-50 year old man who is the sole breadwinner for a family of 4-5 people? If he loses his job or has serious work problems, in the average Japanese man's eyes he and his family are doomed and he is a failure. Good luck finding many Japanese middle aged men who can remain optimistic when they've been let go from their 25+ year job and companies won't hire him because it's not March or April and he's too old.

In my opinion the practice of annual hiring new graduates once a year is likely one of the biggest factors responsible for the high suicide rate. If people (Especially men) believed they had more alternatives even after losing their lifetime employment, they probably would not be so quick to kill themselves. In reality those who do seek new employment with a positive attitude will always find it, Japan has a severe worker shortage and a decent job is not hard to find, but in my experience most middle aged Japanese people don't believe it.

Of course there are other reasons for the suicide rate (Cultural stuff) but when you mix the complete lack of respect and lack of government funded support given to people with any kind of mental illness, is it any wonder so many people decide to end it all?

As others have mentioned, what's going to happen when the current generation of young people gets into the next "burst bubble" when they have 3 or 4 generations to support but their companies can't afford to keep them on staff, and the government has no more money for pensions or health care?

Already something like 40% of Japanese corporations fail to make a profit every year, they're living on cash saved from the better years or on loans or on tricky or illegal accounting maneuvers. Look at Toshiba. The current young generation is probably going to kill itself in droves when their companies go bankrupt and they can't support their families anymore.

Good luck with that 30% reduction target.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All the "kizuna" the media promote, when you look close enough, the strong is allowed to bully the weak, ask any parents who reported bullying problem and witness the bully being protected by the school because s/he is a "minor" and that their sons/daughters need to toughen up!! The rest of the people, whipped and educated enough to keep quite and not create any slight meiwaku to those in power. It is no wonder, many can only find a way out by killing themselves.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

An employer who I considered my "Japanese father," the owner of a midsized company founded by his grandfather, fell on hard times in the '90s, let me go, and killed himself as things fell apart. I'd called him a few times after our parting, but I was still new to Japan and young, so I had no idea what was going on.

This haunts me to this day, even over 20 years later. IF. IF I had only known. IF I had reached out, talked with him, reminded him of his lovely daughter. If I had TALKED with him.

A lesson I took from this tragic experience was the importance of communication. As the world fragments under technology, the corporate system, and loosening family ties, this dies. But it doesn't have to. If the government wants to make progress in this area, I suggest they urge people to friggin' put down their smartphones and actually listen to those close to them.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I fail to see how they're going to achieve more than the usual back-patting

They've cut the suicide rate by roughly 30% over the past decade. So your 'usual back-patting' isn't born out by what has actually happened.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Yeah... no more pension in a couple of decades, retirement at 80, health insurance premiums sky-rocketed, no babies to take things over, inaction on immigration leading to a vacuum of above mentioned social services, increased gap between the rich and poor, with the latter becoming quite poor indeed to service the rich, food costs increasing, pay NOT increasing, having to take care of ageing relatives because of, again, a lack of services, pension, and money in general....

Sorry, but I fail to see how they're going to achieve more than the usual back-patting for lip-service before fobbing off HOW and the failure to do anything on someone else.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Count double suicide as murder suicide. Increase study in psycho of murderer suiciðer

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I aim to lose 20 pounds, but I wont...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

When the Japanese government starts aiming for something, you'd better duck coz they ain't gonna hit it.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Are they gonna start handing out free money? Oh no thats just for the politicians.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Another PR stunt by the the government. It knows that "work-related suicides" are a current hot topic in the news. Therefore, the gov't makes a statement to calm public concern, hoping they'll move on to other issues.

The real reason for Japan's high number of suicides is obviously complicated, and will require something more than this. Whatever the combination of factors may be, it certainly cannot help that more and more people are working temporary jobs at low wages, cannot adequately support their families because of the high cost of child care and education and health care etc, and worry whether they'll ever be able to retire. And under the LDP, the goal, overall, is to have people pay higher taxes and to work for less money and fewer benefits. For the sake of a lost bubble era dream, a fictional "beautiful Japan" with a really big GDP, a nostalgic carrot that Abe and his privileged cronies dangle cynically for their own political gain.

The goal of any progressive society is to empower as many citizens as possible with a greater investment in a promising future. The Japanese government is largely failing in this endeavor.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I have my doubts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuvA-8JGQx0

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 a plan asking employers to limit overtime to a maximum of 100 hours per month.

Asking? Is that like 'urging' or 'suggesting'? A hundred hours of overtime per month is still utterly ridiculous! People work to live, not live to work! This statistic will never drop by 30% as long as there is no work/life balance in Japan and until there is more importance put on the family unit over the company they are enslaved to.

I'm curious to know what percentage of suicides involve murder/suicides. There was three last week.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

which is better, an aim or a pledge?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I wonder if all that overtime makes them any more productive, on an individual or a company level. There are companies in the U.S. that pressure people here to work hard, and that's mainly because they want to get stuff out fast and do their IPO, and they don't care if they use up a bunch of expendable folks in that process. In Japan, it seems like a cultural reverence for overwork that's not directly tied to "productivity".

5 ( +6 / -1 )

As the population decreases they should start using percentages instead of numbers of suicides which will naturally decrease over time.

Or how about the number of suicides per 100,000 people?

The suicide rate -- the ratio per 100,000 people -- was 18.5 in 2015 and the government wants to reduce it below 13.0 in 2025.

I'm starting to suspect posters didn't even bother to read the article.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

it will take a significant cultural shift to make a dent in the suicide rate. Ten years? Nope. Try possibly an entire generation, but unlikely even then.

Yeah, it's not like they've already been able to reduce the rate by 30%.

...oh wait...

Suicides have fallen since peaking at 34,427 in 2003, with 21,897 taking their own lives last year.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Of course it can be done: change the definition of suicide.

Lateral thinking QED.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

A lot of you are rumbling about how this is not going to work out. but look at the numbers, it is definitely getting better. You guys think Japan is bad with overtime work and harassment and other bad working environments right now? It was a lot worse during the 90's. Of course it is no where near decent yet but its getting better by the year. So I think 30% cut on suicides within the next 10 years is a realistic number.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

Forget any meaningful change to Labour Laws. Overtime was the cause of the death of a young woman, came to the forefront. Government reaction, increase the legal hours from 45 to 100???. The head of the Union organisation is Nippon Kaigi. So expect the opposite.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Good Idea, but how ?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Typo above: last sentence should read: You can't just 'aim' to get results without taking any meaningful measures (and enforcing it)... Good luck!!!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Japan aims to cut suicides by 30 percent over 10 years

For starters they'll have to:

1 - Do a 'U' turn and stamp out institutionalized bullying - (which is not even recognized so this will probably not change)

2 - Employ 1000's of qualified mental health professionals / counselors.

3 - Set up 'free' mental health clinics staffed with compassionate trained professionals.

4 - Start teaching adults and school kids that mental health issues, depression and/or disability are normal in any society and should not be shunned, ignored, swept under the carpet and ostracized...

5 - Raise the minimum wage.

6 - Get tough and prosecute executives/line managers/supervisors who ignore overtime rules and regulations (fines and/or prison sentences)

7 - Pressure employers to encourage their staff to go home early, take all their paid holiday without feeling any shame, so they can enjoy time with friends and family.

Of course I could add more, but these would certainly help. You can just 'aim' to get results without taking any meaningful measures (and enforcing it)... Good luck!!!

14 ( +18 / -4 )

As the population decreases they should start using percentages instead of numbers of suicides which will naturally decrease over time.

What are causes of the majority of suicides? Horrible work life balance? Unenforceable family laws?

12 ( +13 / -1 )

What are they going to do? Cross their fingers?

9 ( +13 / -4 )

The Japanese are woefully slow in adjusting to change of any kind - that said, it will take a significant cultural shift to make a dent in the suicide rate. Ten years? Nope. Try possibly an entire generation, but unlikely even then.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Change labor laws to remove compulsary overtime. Educate people that they won't lose their job for leaving work on time with the new labor law change.

19 ( +20 / -1 )

aims? how? I can aim to live on Mars in 10 years but doesn't mean it will happen.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

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