July 17, 2013


Japan's Annual Number of Suicides Dips below 30,000 in 2012

Keywords: Government Well-Being 

According to an announcement by the Japanese Cabinet Office on March 14, 2013, Japan's annual number of suicides dipped by 9.1 percent from the previous year to 27,858 people in 2012 (actual figure). This was the first time in 15 years that the figure fell below 30,000. The most likely groups to commit suicide by gender were males (69.2%), by age group were those in their 60s (17.9%), and by job category were those out of work (59.8%). Among causes or reasons given, health problems were the most common (about 50%), followed by financial problems. The actual number, however, has decreased for three consecutive years in both problems.

Japan has the second highest suicide rate among OECD countries, with twice the rate of the USA and three times the rates of Italy and Britain. To remedy this situation, the Japanese government enacted the Basic Act on Suicide Prevention in 2006. Base on this law, an outline of comprehensive measures against suicide was drawn up in 2007 and fully reviewed in August 2012 so to incorporate practical measures at the local level.

In the 2009 supplementary budget, Japan allocated 10 billion yen (about U.S.$ 106 million) over a 3-year period to establish a fund for urgent measures against suicide at the local level, with plans to fund public counseling and training of counselors. In addition, as most suicides are associated with mental diseases such as depression, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare conducts training for primary care doctors on the skills necessary to diagnose such conditions.

With the aim to solving the serious social problems of the increasing number of those with overwhelming debts that may cause suicide, the Revised Money Lending Business Act was enacted in 2010 to lower maximum interest rates, to prohibit new borrowing by those with outstanding loan amounts exceeding one third of their annual income and to require annual income certificates when borrowing money.

Related JFS article:
Japan Plans to Reduce Annual Suicides by 25% within 10 Years