Washington Post

So many Japanese people die alone, there's an industry devoted to cleaning up after them

Yautaka Kimura, left, and Akira Fujita pray after cleaning an apartment in Kawasaki, Japan, where a man had died about four months before his body was discovered. So-called "lonely deaths" happen frequently in Japan, home to the world's fastest-aging population. Foto: Shiho Fukada photo for The Washington Post

KAWASAKI, Japan - There was a putrid smell emanating from the apartment. There was an obvious brown stain on the futon where the body had been. The futon, the clothes, the newspapers and horse-racing stubs were covered with maggots and flies.

Still, if the man had died in the summer and rotted for months in the sweltering heat, instead of drying to a shrivel as winter approached, it could have been much worse...

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