Japan’s unemployed turn to suicide

The number of Japanese who
committed suicide declined last year, but remained above 30,000 for the 13th
straight year with a sharp jump in deaths by those citing grim job prospects, according
to the National Police Agency.

 Japan has for years had one of the world’s
highest suicide rates.

In all, 31,690 people killed
themselves last year, a 3.5 per cent decrease from the year before.

Many cited depression, economic hardships
and job-related concerns.

The number of people who committed
suicide indicating “failure to get jobs” rose to 424, up 20 per cent
from the year before and more than doubling from 180 in 2007, the report said.

About one-third were in their 20s,
including new graduates seeking jobs.

The results underscore the tough
reality for student job seekers as companies cut back on hiring amid a lengthy
economic slump.

A record one-third of university
students graduating this month have not found jobs, a separate government
survey said in January.

Japan has long battled a high
suicide rate.

At 24.4 suicides per 100,000
people, the country ranked second in 2009 among the Group of Eight leading
industrialized nations after Russia’s 30.1, according to the World Health

The Japanese report didn’t calculate
the 2010 suicide rate, but its statistics combined with last year’s population
report indicate it would be 25 per 100,000.

Japan’s suicides have declined in
recent years after reaching a record 34,427 in 2003.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has
identified jobs and reviving growth as priorities for his administration.

Kan vowed further efforts, saying
economic recovery is not enough to curb suicides.

“What we need is a society in
which nobody feels abandoned,” he said.