• The Financial District


Japanese children had the second-worst rated mental well-being among 38 developed and emerging countries due to poor life satisfaction and the high frequency of suicide, a UNICEF report said Thursday, September 3, 2020.

While Japanese children ranked first in physical health and live in relatively well-off economic circumstances, instances of bullying in schools as well as difficult relationships with family members leads to a lack of psychological well-being, the UN Children's Fund found. Only children in New Zealand ranked worse than Japan in terms of their mental well-being. The report, titled "Worlds of Influence: Understanding What Shapes Child Well-being in Rich Countries," looked into three key categories -- mental well-being, physical health, and academic and social skills -- using data collected before the novel coronavirus pandemic, Kyodo news agency reported.

In 2018, the Netherlands reported the highest rate of 15-year-old children who had a high life satisfaction at 90 percent, while Turkey ranked bottom at just 53 percent. Japan came in second last at 62 percent. In Japan, an average of 7.5 in 100,000 adolescents aged 15 to 19 committed suicide between 2013 and 2015, while the suicide rate for New Zealand was the second-highest at 14.9. Greece saw the lowest suicide rate at 1.4, while Lithuania saw the highest at 18.2.

Japanese education expert Naoki Ogi labeled Japan's schools a "bullying hell" and said excessive competition to get into prestigious schools proves a negative factor to children's mental health. "It's inevitable for children (in Japan) to have low self-esteem and lack a sense of happiness," he said.

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