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High number of ‘lonely deaths’ in Japan

Homeless men sit to receive sunshine along a pedestrian walkway in central Tokyo on November 30, 2010. Unemployment, an aging population and reluctance to ask for welfare assistance might be contributing to a rise in “lonely deaths” in Japan, which has one of the highest standards of living in the world. Credit: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA


High number of ‘lonely deaths’ in Japan


Between 2017 and last year, 538 people died “lonely deaths” while living with others in Tokyo and Osaka, according to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper, leading experts to ask for additional help for struggling families.

Many of the instances seemed to be connected to dementia: roughly 30% of the fatalities recorded in Osaka included persons who had dementia relatives.

According to the health ministry, around 4.6 million Japanese individuals have dementia, with that number anticipated to climb to 7.3 million by 2025 – or one in every five persons aged 65 and over.

Medical examiners in Osaka say the new categorization, which differentiates from the enormous number of mostly elderly individuals who die in complete isolation, applies to those who do not live alone but whose deaths are not discovered for four days or more.

The Mainichi found 90 persons in Osaka – 58 men and 32 women – who died during the three-year period after demanding that medical examiners in Osaka and Tokyo’s 23 wards look into cases of lonely deaths. In Tokyo, 448 individuals have died in identical circumstances, including 286 males and 162 women.

The most prevalent cause for the delay in reporting the deaths was dementia; in other cases, the deceased had intentionally closed themselves off from the other tenants of the house or were handicapped.


While lonely deaths have been recorded in other regions of Japan, the publication pointed out that there is no official count of the overall number of fatalities nationally.

Local authorities, according to a health ministry official, do not always properly monitor vulnerable persons living with family.

As Japan’s ageing population and smaller families continue to diminish traditional community ties, “cases in which people become isolated and are not noticed by those around them are likely to increase,” the official noted.


Biden reaffirms support for Tokyo Olympics

At a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Saturday, US President Joe Biden reaffirmed his support for the Tokyo Olympics, emphasizing the need of enforcing public health measures to ensure the safety of all engaged.

“President Biden expressed pride in the US athletes who have trained for the Tokyo Games and will be competing in the best traditions of the Olympic spirit,” the statement read.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which were postponed last year owing to the global spread of the coronavirus, are set to begin on July 23, despite widespread public resistance, as well as opposition from many Japanese business and medical personnel.

Biden discussed COVID-19, North Korea, China, and climate change with Suga on the margins of the Group of Seven summit in the British seaside town of Carbis Bay, according to a statement released by the White House.

The remarks were similar to one made by Suga in April during his visit to Washington, DC.

Despite the fact that Tokyo is dealing with a fourth wave of illnesses and is under a state of emergency, the Japanese government and organizers have stated that the games would go on – barring “Armageddon,” as one member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) put it.

Tokyo 2020 organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said on Friday that the G7 countries would be “grateful” if they could support the Summer Games going ahead as planned.

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