Death is a house­hold word in Ja­pan

The Washington Post - - HEALTH&SCIENCE -

In Ja­pan, na­tional health in­surance pro­vides in­di­vid­ual hospi­tal rooms only in ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances, which means that peo­ple such as Ya­suhiro Sato are likely to spend their fi­nal days at home. One per­son in 4 in Ja­pan is older than 65, and health of­fi­cials pre­dict a short­fall of more than 470,000 hospi­tal beds by 2030. When Sato,

who had ter­mi­nal lung cancer, died in Tokyo in September at age 75, the only other peo­ple in his apart­ment were doc­tors, aides and un­der­tak­ers. CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT: Au­dio­tapes con­tain­ing record­ings of Sato singing karaoke — his hobby when he was healthy — lie in a

cor­ner of his home. An un­der­taker bows af­ter plac­ing Sato’s cas­ket in a morgue. Physi­cian Shima On­odera of the Yam­ato Clinic, which of­fers hospice care and has over­seen more than 500 home deaths since 2013, ex­am­ines Sato on the day be­fore his death.



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