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Naomi Osaka’s decision to withdraw from the French Open after revealing her battle with depression has brought attention to the issue of mental health in sports, with one expert even accusing the media of “voyeurism,” AFP-Jiji reports.

Japanese celebrities are expected to stay away from tough topics, the JT Editorial Board notes. But Osaka’s shining of a spotlight on mental health should be welcomed, the writers argue, particularly at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is fueling anxiety.

With youth suicides in Japan at record levels, the government has decided the time has come to reintroduce mental health education to high schools, starting next spring — four decades after it was axed from the curriculum.

Naomi Osaka: changing the discussion on mental health | FRANCE 24 ENGLISH
Naomi Osaka: changing the discussion on mental health | FRANCE 24 ENGLISH

The renewed attention on mental health comes a year after the death of reality TV star Hana Kimura, whose suicide triggered calls to tackle cyberbullying in Japan. Her mother is waging a campaign in the courts that has already seen three men fined for hateful comments they posted about Kimura. The Diet also enacted a law in April to make it easier to track down cyberbullies.

Also doing her bit to break down mental health taboos in Japan is Meg Hoffmann Nakagawa, whose Blossom The Project on Instagram has grown into a popular bilingual platform for discussing these and related issues, Zanete Zujeva reports.

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