Kodokushi

Kodokushi or lonely death refers to a Japanese phenomenon of people dying alone and remaining undiscovered for a long period of time. The phenomenon was first described in the 1980s. Kodokushi has become an increasing problem in Japan, attributed to economic troubles and Japan's increasingly elderly population. >

Kodokushi is a growing problem in Japan, where 27.7 per cent of the population is aged over 65 and many people are giving up trying to find partners in middle age, opting instead for a solitary existence. Experts say a combination of uniquely Japanese cultural, social and demographic factors have compounded the problem. There are no official figures for the number of people dying alone who stay unnoticed for days and weeks but most experts estimate it at 30,000 per year. Yoshinori Ishimi, who runs the Anshin Net service that cleans up afterwards, believes the true figure is “twice or three times that”. >



Kodokushi has become a household word. In Tokyo alone, 4,777 people died this way in 2017, according to Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health. More than half were men, and the vast majority were older than 60. Gruesomely, roughly a third died two to three days before the body was found – and almost 10% of bodies lay there for more than a month. >