The Japanese government has appointed a minister of loneliness to implement policies designed to fight isolation.

Iran press/ Asia: Tetsushi Sakamoto, already in the government as the minister in charge of raising Japan's low birthrate and revitalizing regional economies, was appointed the additional role. He has already announced plans for an emergency national forum to discuss the issue and share the testimony of lonely individuals.

Given the complexity of the problem, the minister will primarily oversee the coordination of efforts between different ministries that hope to address the issue alongside a task force. He steps into his role not a moment too soon. The loneliness epidemic in Japan is uniquely well known around the world.

Hikikomori, often translated as "acute social withdrawal," is the phenomenon of people completely withdrawing from society for months or years at a time and living as modern-day hermits. While cases exist in many countries, the problem is better known and more prevalent in Japan.

Estimates vary, but some suggest that a million Japanese live like this and that one and a half million more are at risk of developing the condition. Individuals practicing this hermitage, also known as Hikikomori, often express contentment with their isolation at first before encountering severe symptoms of loneliness and distress.

Kodokushi, the phenomenon of the elderly dying alone and remaining undiscovered for some time due to their isolation, is also a widespread issue in Japan that has attracted national attention for decades.

These are just the most shocking elements of the loneliness crisis. Loneliness can cause health issues akin to smoking. A lack of interaction within a community can cause social problems. It is even associated with changes in the brain. While there is nothing wrong with wanting a little time to yourself, the inability to get the socialization that many people need is a real problem with real consequences.