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Man says he left mother's body at home because he couldn't afford funeral


Police have arrested a 67-year-old man who abandoned the body of his 87-year-old mother at her home two years ago because he could not afford to pay for her funeral.

According to police, Norio Sasakawa has been charged with abandoning the body of his mother, Akiko Shiratori, at her residence in a housing complex in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, after she died in late November 2013, Sankei Shimbun reported Thursday.

The case came to light when Sasakawa's sister visited the residence in December 2013 after not hearing from her mother and found the body wrapped in a blanket in a futon. Sasakawa had dropped out of sight and did not keep in touch with his sister for the past two years.

Sasakawa, who is unemployed and now lives in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward, was arrested after police tracked him through his welfare recipient records.

Sasakawa was quoted by police as saying his mother died due to an illness while they were living together. He said he couldn't pay for her funeral and that he just wanted to escape from reality.

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If true a very sad story.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Wouldn't a few months of her pension payments pay for the funeral?

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

I believe there are few Yen available from the government for funeral expenses. The problem seems to be the cost of transporting the body, funeral parlor, cremation etc. far exceeds what the government allows.

The government by law requires cremation. Due to hospitals and funeral homes NOT equipped to hold bodies in the freezer, a body is usually required o be removed within one or two days and be cremated soon thereafter. That makes sense for heath and safety reasons.

However, to arrest a person for not cremating a body and for keeping it stored really does not make sense. There must be a better way to deal with deaths where finance is a problem, much like the situation with the death of an unknown homeless person.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

doubt it. the welfare handouts are really low and funerals are very expensive. Another example of the victim being blamed iin this country.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

I don't blame him. My friend's dad died just recently and the funeral alone costed more than 200万円.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

The J-gov does have state sponsored funerals for such circumstances. Yeah, a state funeral might not be very fancy, but it's much better than letting your mother's body rot in an apartment for two years.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Sasakawa was quoted... as saying... he just wanted to escape from reality"

Welcome to Japan everybody!!! ;-)

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I don't blame him either. Buddhist funerals are a money making racket! And it's not a once and done thing. You have to have ceremonies on certain days and years for a long time, each of which cost money.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The escape from reality thing does make sense.

Many a time I feel like escaping from reality…only for "reality" to come crashing down on me.

Joking aside. This fella must have been pretty desperate.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Like a crematorium truck that shows up to your door to incinerate granddad

LoL, I've heard they actually have those kinds of crematorium trucks for pet funerals. I heard they make pretty good money showing up to peoples doors and performing a mini-funeral. And actually incinerating the family dog, cat, hamsters, rabbits, birds and even fish.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Pay attention to the dateline. This is the area that was affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. I suspect that there is a certain amount of PTSD involved that nobody's factoring into the story. His comment about wanting to escape from reality makes sense when you figure in that both of them dealt with the biggest human tragedy to hit Japan in centuries, and a disaster exceeded only by the Indonesian Earthquake and Tsunami.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Cremation in Tokyo is free. Not sure if you are allowed to transport the body though sitting next to you in a car.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What was he charged with? What is this "abandoning a body" nonsense? Is he by law required to take care of his deceased mother's body? He would be morally obligated to do something but by law? Another one of those "only in Japan" things.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The best option is, apparently, to make sure you die in hospital, and to tell your loved ones to refuse to sign for your body. Then the hospital has to dispose of it/you.

Or so I have been told.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What is this "abandoning a body" nonsense? ...Is he by law required ...? Another one of those "only in Japan" things.

Oh no, that exists in most countries. It's becoming a common issue in aging countries like Japan as the surviving relatives are often already in senility. Also, many the deceased are totally lonely. Unless people die in an institution, it's normally the next of kins that are responsible for post-mortem formalities like immediately getting a doctor to do the death certificate and notificating the city hall, arranging in a quick delay for the 'disposal' of body. Then, it's less urgent but important too as we live in complicated societies, later they also have to inform all the others like the banks, insurances, tax office, pension office, and the person in charge of the will... I've seen many cases where nobody in the family had the 'brains' to do that, and the neighbors or very distant relatives had to do it all for them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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