courtesy of Tokyo Organizing Committee

Japan (MNN) — Support for the Tokyo Olympics just hit a new low in Japan. The latest spike in Tokyo’s COVID-19 infections has 80-percent of Japanese residents saying the Summer Games should be rescheduled again, or canceled altogether.

“People have different feelings. Some [are] saying, ‘it’s impossible so let’s give up’; [the] government hasn’t,” Takeshi Takazawa explains. Takazawa is Vice President for Missional Engagement and is the former National Director for Asian Access in Japan.

Asian Access had high hopes for Olympic outreach, but those plans were put on hold last spring. For now, leaders focus on more pressing needs – stemming the rising depression and suicide rates in Japan.

Tokyo Olympics and mental health

With fewer than 200 days remaining before Tokyo Olympics begin, authorities say everything will go forward as planned. However, uncertainty remains high and sadness often follows canceled plans.

Depression rose 477-percent among professional athletes between mid-March and August last year, one study found. Athletes and sports enthusiasts aren’t the only ones who struggle. Depression and suicide rates skyrocketed in Japan, too.“

The depression, suicide rate has sharply shifted from older generation into a younger generation. [The] female [suicide rate] has increased since last summer, when two of the famous celebrities committed suicide,” Takazawa says.

As described here, more Japanese people died from suicide than COVID-19 last year. Self-induced deaths declined annually from 2009 to 2019, but soared to new heights during the pandemic.

Ask God to give believers the right words as they share Christ’s hope with hurting individuals online. Pray for wisdom for Japanese church leaders as they navigate changing regulations. Support Gospel work in Japan through Asian Access.

"We need to stand in the gap. Let’s stand together as a global faith community [and] encourage one another to pray for all [of these] things,” Takazawa suggests.

“Crises sometimes push us away from God. But God wants to want us to draw near to Him, so challenge each other – are we praying more because of this crisis?”  


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