Death is a household word in Japan
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.