TOKYO—A year ago when Japan was under a pandemic state of emergency, Seiji Saejima called his ex-wife for the first time since they divorced a few years earlier. He said she told him she was about to remarry and asked him not to call again.
It was an unwelcome reminder of the isolation he was feeling.
“I did not have many friends to contact even before,” said the 34-year-old, who works at a city government office near Tokyo. Then the pandemic forced reductions in activities that kept him connected, like going to singles’ mixers.
“The coronavirus has made me realize I’m lonely,” he said.
Recent data suggest many more people are having the same experience, and that is changing the thinking of some governments.