45% of Japanese living abroad feel lonely: gov’t study

by Jun 10, 2024Featured Article, News

Nearly 45 percent of Japanese nationals living abroad feel lonely at times, a recent government survey showed, with areas lacking strong Japanese community ties believed to contribute to higher feelings of isolation.

The survey was the first of its kind conducted by the Japanese Foreign Ministry, targeting approximately 1.3 million Japanese nationals living abroad. It garnered 55,420 online responses between October and December last year.

According to the survey, a total of 44.9 percent either felt lonely “often or always,” “sometimes” or “once in a while.” The figure was 5.6 percentage points higher than seen in a similar survey conducted by the Cabinet Secretariat domestically.

By region, Western Europe, including Britain and France, had the highest percentage of respondents experiencing bouts of loneliness at 48.0 percent, followed by South America at 46.4 percent and North America at 45.3 percent.

Africa was the region with the lowest percentage of lonely Japanese expats at 39.0 percent, followed by the Middle East at 41.4 percent.

The language barrier was cited as the most common reason for feelings of loneliness at 31.6 percent, followed by cultural differences at 27.9 percent.

Among those who responded they often or always felt lonely, 44.5 percent said they had felt that way for five years or longer.

The ministry is working with overseas missions and domestic suicide prevention organizations to provide support to Japanese struggling with loneliness abroad.