MagazineApr 1, 2015
In rapidly ageing Japan, more people are dying alone and unnoticed. Specialist clean-up crews are on hand to cleanse "lonely death" apartments once their passing is spotted, including placing incense and flowers. In March, the body of a man in his 80s was found on the floor of his apartment in Tokyo. He had been dead for a month. The family didn't visit and the only reason for the body's discovery was the slight smell that troubled the downstairs neighbour. In a country where around 5 million elderly people live alone, the number of decaying bodies found in empty homes is expected to soar.
Hirotsugu Masuda, a worker for special cleaning, reacts as he enters a garbage-filled flat in Tokyo March 20, 2015 where a body of 85 year-old man was left over a month. Toru Hanai/REUTERS