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Online chat services to offer support to Japanese abroad in foreign ministry scheme

This file photo shows the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Mainichi/Kenji Yoneda)

TOKYO -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan announced July 9 that it will set about tackling issues of solitude and isolation among Japanese nationals living abroad by partnering with nonprofit organizations to offer online consultations.

    It is thought that there are many Japanese people who are living alone while facing issues such as being subject to a restricted life in a land foreign to them amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the foreign ministry is set to arrange a support network for such individuals.

    Five nonprofit groups will cooperate in the initiative, including "Anata no Ibasho," a 24-hour anonymous consultation service, and the Childline Support Center, which offers counseling for children aged 18 or younger. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will list the organizations' contact information on its "overseas safety" homepage and in email messages from consuls to residents of respective countries. Users of the service will be able to share their concerns in Japanese through social media and online chat services.

    For cases which the nonprofit organizations deem as urgent and serious, with a risk of suicide or other dangers, they are to contact the foreign ministry's Consular Affairs Bureau, and officials will provide support through embassies and consulates.

    Minister for Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi said in a July 9 press conference, "There are likely those who face isolation and loneliness especially when living overseas. We'd like to listen closely to the voices of such individuals."

    (Japanese original by Hiroshi Miyajima, Political News Department)

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