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lifestyle

Japan sees huge growth in jobs in 'cleaning up homes of old people who die alone' field

5 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

As time passes, technology advances, and economies evolve, certain industries will shrink. For example, electronics manufacturing used to be a huge part of the Japanese economy, but it’s been in contraction for many years, with Casio’s exit from the digital camera game the most recent example.

But on the other hand, some industries can see huge growth due to socioeconomic trends. So if you’re hunting for a job in Japan, and you want to be part of a rapidly expanding field, you might want to consider a position in tokushu soji, or “special cleaning” industry.

What makes the cleaning special? Well, tokushu soji companies come in and clean the homes of senior citizens who have died alone. Back in the old days, this is something that was almost always handled by surviving relatives, often the deceased’s children, and in fact it used to be far more common than it is today for elderly parents to live with their offspring in multi-generational homes.

Things have changed, though. As families become smaller and more people move farther away from home to seek out academic or professional opportunities, the number of seniors in Japan who live alone has been steadily increasing, from roughly 4.1 million in 2010 to 6.55 million in 2016 (according to statistics from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare). In response, there are now over 5,000 companies offering special cleaning services in Japan, which is 15 times as many as there were just five years ago.

Aside from recycling or otherwise disposing of the deceased’s possessions, special cleaning companies have to clean and disinfect the home. Sometimes a significant amount of time will have passed before someone discovered that the resident had passed away, and in addition to using professional-grade cleaners and pesticides, special cleaning staff often wear protective clothing to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

While cleaning and waste disposal are the primary services offered, some special cleaning companies have expanded their role to coordinating funeral services. Many also believe that respectful treatment of surviving relatives is part of their duties, and the Special Cleaning Center, and industry group formed in 2013, offers training and certification programs to ensure high-quality service in both the technical and human aspects of the job.

With Japan’s birth rate steadily falling, demand for special cleaning services is likely to continue to grow, as families get smaller and the population gets older. It’s no doubt a difficult job, but it serves a valuable purpose for society.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japan’s secret garbage problem–and what you can do to help

-- New Japanese augmented-reality service lets you meet with deceased loved ones at their graves

-- Yoro shisetsu: Japan’s progressive joint care centers where kids and seniors interact

© SoraNews24

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

5 Comments
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Now that's a sad 'growth industry'. There's a lot of misery, loneliness and suffering lurking behind this very matter-of-fact piece of reportage.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Out of site , out of mind. Expect more to come . It can be a cold country to those that struggle. They become almost invisible.The mantra is head down, suck it up, buy your one cup sake , and try not bother anyone on your way to a sad, solitary death. The lucky ones are out climbing mountains and playing gateball.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In this capitalism and convenient way of life, it shows a clear contrast between light and shade. Some industries end and some others begin. You need it or not, that's the reality we can't avoid.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Who pays for the clean-up? Do bill collectors harass surviving relatives?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

If it is a chintai contract, the building owners will try to contact family members on the contract.

If the person is an owner and no relatives are found, the building will be auctioned off and the cleaning company will get a good cut of the profits.

If the owners can't find the relatives, then the legal process is initiated to collect fees.

Indeed, it is a sad indictment for a society where ancestor worship is important,that there are those who slip away unnoticed and uncared for.

For old people, painless oblivion unfortunately becomes the reward of those struggling in their final years.

(lately, even more alarming is that it is not just old people)....

5 ( +5 / -0 )

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