Suicide in Japan

Suicide in Japan

If you commit suicide in Japan by jumping in front of a train, the deceased's family will be charged a disruption fee.

share Share

Suicide in Japan has become a major national social issue. Japan has a relatively high suicide rate compared to other countries, but the number of suicides is declining and, as of 2013, has been under 30,000 for three consecutive years. In 2014, ordinary 70 Japanese people died by suicide every day, and the majority were men. Seventy-one percent of suicides in Japan were male, and it is the leading cause of death in men aged 20–44. By 2016, suicide rates had reached a 22-year low of 21,764; men decreased by 1,664 to 15,017, and women decreased by 597 to 6,747.

As with many other countries, suicide factors include unemployment, periods of economic stagnation or recession (such as the "Lost 20 Years" between 1990 and 2010), and social pressures. In 2007, the National Police Agency (NPA) revised the categorization of motives for suicide into a division of 50 reasons, with up to three reasons listed for each suicide. Suicides traced to losing jobs surged 65.3 percent, while those attributed to hardships in life increased 34.3 percent. Depression remained at the top of the list for the third year in a row, rising 7.1 percent from the previous year.

There is a long history of considering certain types of suicides honorable in Japanese culture, especially during military service. For example, seppuku was the use of a short sword for self-disembowelment practiced mainly by samurai (warriors) to avoid dishonor, such as after defeating in battle or as an act of protest against the government. Kamikaze was the method of flying a plane into the enemy used during World War II. Banzai charges were human wave attacks used during the Pacific War. During the Battle of Saipan and Battle of Tinian, Japanese combatants and civilians committed mass suicide at Suicide Cliff and Banzai Cliff.

There has been a rapid increase in suicides since the 1990s. For example, 1998 saw a 34.7% increase over the previous year; this has prompted the Japanese government to react by increasing funding to treat the causes of suicide and those recovering from attempted suicides. "Isolation is the number one precursor of depression and suicide", says Wataru Nishida, a psychologist at Tokyo's Temple University.