A helping hand is badly needed in Japan


Today I stumbled upon some further news that makes me again speechless. Personally I had been impressed about growth of kizuna (絆, Japanese word meaning “bond with others”) after the disaster of last year. So many people were volunteering or just simply trying to make life easier for everyone. Now as time has passed it seems that quite a bit of people are falling through the cracks, even though Japanese society still values and practices kizuna.
According to an article of Mainichi Shimbun in the aftermath of the last year’s disaster a government-subsidized free telephone consultation service was started. In the meantime due to increased social problems the line got so overloaded, that only after 20 attempts on average a person can get to talk to a consultant. About 20,000 calls are received per day, but only about 1,200 of them get connected. Based on the Mainichi Shimbun article this 24h service is called “Yorisoi (staying together) Hotline” and is operated by the Shakaiteki Hosetsu (social inclusion) Support Center. Calls about issues like poverty, unemployment and bullying are supported. In the meantime 38 call centers located throughout Japan were created.
Most shocking for me is that based on the information from Mainichi Shimbun about 70 percent of problems concern basic needs of a human being: Poverty and solitude, with many of the callers in their 30s to 50s. Examples are: “I lost my house after I became unemployed,” “There is no point in living” and “I just wanted to talk with someone.” While there is in the media the bashing of Namapo, reading these cited examples hurts my heart. A man in his 30s had lost his job, applied for welfare, but when calling for help at this hotline, he said: “I have no money and haven’t eaten anything for days.” Due to the worn out voice, the consultant judged right that the man was in a life-threatening condition. Contacts then from a local support center delivered some food to the caller. The man was truly grateful, especially as “no one had helped me before even though I consulted some offices.” The overview below shows the common reasons why someone is calling the support center (graph from Mainichi Shimbun)

Other support function are:
– 20% of consultations are about suicide (link to previous article on this blog)
– 6% of consultations are about violence against women and sexual issues.

It hurts me that the Japanese society, who is known globally for friendliness has ended up at a stage where so many people are starving, lonely, unheard… simply left on their own. I am left wondering how many people are falling through the cracks and no one in their environment might even know.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (伊藤シビル)

One thought on “A helping hand is badly needed in Japan

  1. All of these people falling through the cracks in Japan are in my prayers and will be brought to the attention of my civic service club and my church denomination.

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