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As COVID-19 becomes protracted, around 40% of people living in Japan feel loneliness: Higher percentages among young people and those with deteriorating living situations

2022.06.10

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely limited social interactions, which may have led to higher levels of loneliness among many. The deteriorating mental health, including depression, and an increase in suicide deaths during the pandemic was already recognized as a serious social problem in Japan; However, the effect of the pandemic on loneliness remained unclear.

Associate Professor Michiko Ueda of the Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University (at the time of research), and her colleagues conducted a survey of around 3,000 Japanese residents in February 2022. The results indicated that 37.3% of the respondents are categorized as "lonely", and also that the prevalence of loneliness remained almost unchanged compared to the results obtained by a series of similar surveys carried out by Associate Professor Ueda and her colleagues in the initial period of the COVID-19 pandemic, from April 2020 to the start of 2021.

The researchers also found higher levels of loneliness among relatively young individuals, (20 and 59 years of age), men rather than women, people whose living situation has deteriorated since the onset of the pandemic, and people who don't have any friends with whom they can talk about personal issues. The effects of socioeconomic factors on loneliness, such as respondents' annual household income, educational attainment, and form of employment were taken into consideration in the analysis. The study also found that around 60% of the respondents support the Japanese government's new policy initiatives to tackle loneliness and social isolation. The results of the survey indicate the importance of taking measures against loneliness and social isolation among the comparatively younger population, as well as the necessity to provide support to those whose living situation has deteriorated due to the pandemic.

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