Without a doubt the grimmest statistic coming out of Japan today concerns the number of suicides, which have exceeded 30,000 annually for 11 years in a row — engendering indescribable tragedies for so many families.
But with this having spun into an issue in last month's Lower House elections — even Yukio Hatoyama, who is now prime minister, mentioned it in his speeches — it's clear the Japanese people have begun to take that awful statistic to heart and to treat suicide as a national problem. . . . In Japan, as in much of the developed world, suicide is by far the leading cause of death among young people, amounting here to one-third of deaths in the 20-to-49 age group. In all, the number of suicides in Japan is five times that of total deaths from road traffic accidents.