Today, Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica, held a meeting with Japanese Minister of Loneliness, Tetsushi Sakamoto, to exchange knowledge and best practices on tackling the global phenomenon of loneliness and social isolation, heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, a survey has shown that a quarter of EU citizens claim they felt lonely, more than half of the time. Vice-President Šuica said: ”While the pandemic has amplified the effect, loneliness is not a new phenomenon, nor is it limited to the EU. I look forward to the outcomes of our exchange with Japan; we have much to learn from each other to ensure the wellbeing of citizens and to find solutions to this phenomenon that knows no borders.” The Commission is fully committed to tackling the negative effects of loneliness. Research shows that it has significant impacts on social cohesion, physical and mental health, and ultimately on economic outcomes. To further asses its impacts, Vice-President Šuica has launched an evidence-building process with an upcoming report by the Joint Research Centre, which will lay the ground for further work on loneliness, including a pilot project on loneliness at EU level. Today’s exchange is happening against the backdrop of excellent bilateral relations between the EU and Japan and follows last month’s EU-Japan summit, underpinning increasing cooperation and the strength of the strategic partnership between EU and Japan. Read the joint statement here.