Magazine

Apr 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.

A Lonely Death
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The graves for people who have no-one to tend them are seen at a temple in Tokyo March 30, 2015. Toru Hanai/REUTERS

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