03/23/2017, 15.36
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In Japan, where hope in the future is rare, 30,000 people took their life each year for 12 years

by mons. Isao Kikuchi

Between 1998 and 2010, more than 30,000 people were driven to take their own life. According to recent government research, only 20 per cent of suicides were committed for economic reasons. Sixty per cent were due to physical health and depression.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – Responding to yesterday’s article on suicides in Japan, we received and publish the thoughts of Mgr Isao Kikuchi, bishop of Niigata.

In recent years, more than thirty thousand people in Japan commit suicide every year. It all started in 1998 when several banks in Japan went bankrupt, national economy went into recession and the traditional "lifetime employment system" began to collapse. Since then and up until 2010, almost for 12 years, more than thirty thousand people per annum, which is five times more than the annual number of casualties from traffic accidents, have felt forced to commit suicide in this rich, modern and well-advanced country. Surrounded by an abundance of earthly riches and material goods, people in Japan have been encountering difficulty in finding hope for their future.

Small change was noticed after the massive disaster in 2011, total number of suicide subsided a bit. In the year 2010, it was 31,690. In 2011, it was 30,651. In 2012, it was 27,858. And in 2013, it was 27,283. The reason of this decline was not yet known but I personally presume that it is because many had started to contemplate about the meaning of the life after the massive disaster which took away so many people's lives without any explainable reasons.

According to the recent government research, only 20 % committed suicide on economical reasons. 60% committed suicide because of health problems and depression.

Reasons behind these suicide cases must be very much complex and it is not easy to point out single cause. However, I should say that one of reasons behind the phenomenon must be lack of religion from everyday

life of people in Japan.  It is obvious that an abundance of earthly riches and material goods or development of technology could not provide spiritual enrichment but emptiness in hearts of many. While the society pursued material development, religious spirituality lost their place in the society and local communities have been destroyed, and people are isolated. Isolation is one of the main cause of pushing people to the edge of life.

Catholic Church in Japan has been working on the issue for quite sometime. Both messages from Japanese Catholic Bishops in 2001, "Reverence for Life" and also its revised one just issued in January 2017 mentioned the issue of suicide and called the people in general to pay attention to the issue of "isolation" of people.

Caritas Japan has been also working on the issue for quite sometime organising seminars to draw attention of people to be attentive to voices of isolated calling for help. There are also number of Catholics involved in local NGOs to support people facing difficulties in life.

Also Bishops in the message called Catholics not to be judgmental on people committed suicide but to how pastoral mercy to them and to their family.

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