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Couple in their 80s apparently freeze to death in Tokyo apartment


The bodies of a man and his wife, both in their 80s, were found in their house on Wednesday, police said, adding that they apparently froze to death.

According to police, a relative visited the couple at their home in Nerima Ward at around 5:15 p.m. and after finding them unresponsive, called 119, Kyodo News reported. The couple were declared dead at the scene.

Police said there were no obvious injuries on either body and there were no signs that anyone had broken into the house. Furthermore, none of the heating equipment was in use in the room where the bodies were found.

Police said autopsies will be conducted to determine the cause of death.

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This is such a sad story, not a way anyone should leave this Earth.

Sadly, despite public "heating centers" in my community, deaths such as this also happen here in Minnesota State USA. Here, during winters, there's no "wiggle room" with the weather; For example, today, it is a "balmy" -21 degrees C temperature, with a windchill of -35 degrees C outside. Skin freezes in 10 minutes today outside.

However, our homes, offices, and infrastructure are built to withstand these types of winters. I wonder if this couple lived in a very old home in Tokyo without adequate insulation to protect them? Rest in peace.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If for whatever reason at 80 years old one of them was totally dependent on the other, and this other suddenly died (of old age?), then the dependent one could probably die pretty quickly too.

The relative who found them must know more about their background and the likely scenario.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

My cynical side says , the Japanese government doesn't really care about the " little people"

Just a commodity to be used when they are useful, then discarded.

The lack of care for the elderly, whether poor, dementia, illnesses, is really shocking for a supposed first world country.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Reflects nexus of growing societal problems, specifically, aging, inflation and country becoming poorer by the day as it's Galapagos culture's not finding much success in broader global markets.

Imagine, Japan was 25% of global GDP at height of last century, this century 1% seems likely, especially as those in Govt. like to print money for THEIR job Security and OUR Inflation.

Seems every time one goes into a store, price increases of 10% the norm, but Don't Worry, inflation's dropping and for Dec. just 2%, lowest in years as so says Govt.!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How, though? Even without money for heating, they still had coats and blankets. It's not like they live in Siberia, it's Tokyo.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Some day if I am ever rich I would love to help people who can't afford the bare necessities of life...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It’s just sad that Japanese people who worked so hard and diligently all their life die this way because the government didn’t help them in their old age! Japanese Government throws taxpayers money on other countries without actually assisting its own citizens who are desperately in need!!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Perhaps Kishida government should be addressing the obvious myriad of domestic social net issues before spending billions overseas on everything from Cool Japan to countering China influence in Africa and other nonsense. Just a thought.

Very well accurate thought..

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Wait for the results. It's quite difficult to freeze to death indoors, clothed. Even without heating, a typical apartment should not be cold enough. Uncomfortable, and you would be more likely to get ill, but not freeze to death.

4 ( +6 / -2 )


In most cases, this is not a government or pension issue.

sorry but I beg to differ if they can’t afford to heat or aircon their homes. (Excluding natural causes of death) It is a pension issue.older people are much much more vulnerable to heat and cold changes. Old people can’t control their internal temperature as well as a younger person. They are also less likely to feel the danger regarding the cold and hypothermia, and heat stroke is much more prevalent now the summers are much much hotter.

is it a pension issue? Absolutely when they have to watch every yen. Or pay for a medical bill, or the choice of buying food. Or an old house is cold and drafty.

is it a government issue? Absolutely! They payed their taxes, the government have a duty to take care of their older population and they could give them a heating allowance in the winter or an air conditioner allowance to those that receive a small pension.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I feel sorry for that old couple.

The truth is that winter is very hard to survive here in Japan. Houses are usually poorly insulated and mostly every single house is without central heater system. But I hope that Japanese people will realize that one day and they will change it or will come up with a new solution how to help people to improve their housing

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It was 24*C here in Okinawa today.

Crazy this happened to them.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Everyone read the article that said "Couple in their 80s apparently freeze to death in Tokyo apartment". The most important word in the article is "APPARENTLY". No where in the story did it say the couple died from freezing to death but the article does say the police, and a relative found them unresponsive, and called authorities and later they were declared dead at the scene. Police said there were no obvious injuries on either body and there were no signs that anyone had broken into the house. Furthermore, none of the heating equipment was in use in the room where the bodies were found. Therefore currently this is an ASSUMPTION that everyone is assuming happened and the truth is we don't know. Police said autopsies will be conducted to determine the cause of death. But reading the posts, people are quick to blame and judge the government when there is no definitive reason as to why the couple died, yes it was cold, but they could have poisoned themselves or taken pills , again that to is a "COULD HAVE". Its quick to place blame or make an assumption but harder to think reasonably. It would be nice if JT would do a follow up on this story but I doubt it would happen.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Spidey Today  08:30 pm JST

Japan is one of the most developed countries in the world, however it has some of the coldest houses. No centralized heating, low or no insulation. 

You’re absolutely right about that. Homes here are freezing in winter, and very hot in summer. Why aren’t they insulated?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

But just having heavy blankets will help keep you from freezing to death if you're inside of a house or an apartment. This is tragic but somewhat hard to understand.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Don't have money? How about that?

My parents and the generation above them didn't use air conditioning in the summer, and they hardly used heating in the winter. This was not due to lack of money, but rather from the mentality of being wasteful.

Because there are so many elderly people, many people die from heatstroke, especially in the summer.

The generation that considers air conditioning and heating to be luxuries are not likely to respond even if we encourage them to do so.

In most cases, this is not a government or pension issue.

By the way, the elderly poverty rate in Japan is 20%.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

At a loss for words how this could even happen when these 2 people paid taxes in Japan for 45 odd years only to be ignored by the government when they need help

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Why are people dying of the cold in Japan?

Its not the first time either is it?

It’s unconscionable!

Hard cheese if money doesn’t extend to heating as in Japan there isn’t a heating allowance for the elderly as there is in other countries!

Why not?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Japan is one of the most developed countries in the world, however it has some of the coldest houses. No centralized heating, low or no insulation.

The Japanese principle of endurance is admirable but should not lead to unnecessary deaths.


13 ( +13 / -0 )

Rest in Peace. Absolutely tragic way to go. If this elderly couple could not afford fuel to heat their home, then the local welfare authorities need to make sure this does not happen to anyone else.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I do not use my air conditioner at all regardless of the time of year. I am all about layering.

Eighty years old living in Nerima Ward?

It does sound like it was due to budgetary restrictions forcing them to sacrifice air conditioning because of the poor pension system. Freezing in an old Japanese style house is a lot easier than in a concrete apartment even with no air conditioning.

It could have also been one of the spouses passed away naturally, and the other spouse grieving decided not to leave their sided until they too could pass away because they did not want to be alone.

They could have also chosen to take something that would make sure that they would not wake up.

There are still too many variables. Autopsy, ASAP!

5 ( +9 / -4 )

When you pay a pittance for a pension.....this is what's going to happen. Nobody should die from not having any heating, or in the summer from a lack of air conditioning.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Police said autopsies will be conducted to determine the cause of death.

I think theres still room for other reasons of death except being short on money to pay the bills.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Could not afford to keep the heat ON all night !? or Broken heaters!? Or could not get the fuels needed like Gas or kerosene delivered in time!? any way you look at this it another sad story about the DARK side of getting old in Japan.

One thing that bothers me almost always is that I see seniors who have worked all their lives, paid taxes without asking any Q? trusted the system 100% thinking it will be there for them when in need, how WRONG they were and still is.

Japan really need to start giving back and stop taking.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Every summer there are sad stories of elderly folks who died in their own homes of overheating, who had air conditioners but hadn't used them. It could well be that people on a very limited budget can't afford the extra expense of heating or cooling.

But also, I think some members of that generation insist on living using the older methods they had grown up with (like uchimizu in summer), and use that as a way to shun modern technology. Modern technology may be confusing, troublesome, or just something of another generation that they're not comfortable with.

Either way, it's a heartbreaking story. I hope everyone takes a moment to occasionally check in on elderly relatives and neighbors when the weather conditions get tough.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Couple in their 80s apparently freeze to death in Tokyo apartment

Let me guess they were pensioners on Depression era type budgetary strictures. You see enough of that on the nightly news

Tales of New Capitalism #4741.

-2 ( +18 / -20 )

That's the sad reality of Japan, not the tourists propaganda, that all FB and media channels are filled with.

The reality is that the Pension in Japan is one of the lowest in the world, of so called "civilised" countries.

Is so low that it cannot even cover the basic needs of a family like heating in the winter and cooling I'm the summer.

The medieval ways of getting warm, like warm futons, kotasu, electric blankets, etc, etc, are still promoted here, like they are the best thing, when the old retired people, cannot even afford those.

Welcome to the REAL world.

-6 ( +20 / -26 )

Very sad.

I remember reading about a massive heat wave that occurred in the American Midwest several decades ago. It killed over seven hundred people in Chicago. This kind of thing can happen anywhere during the harsh seasons.

Always important to make sure your living quarters are properly cooled/heated. Additionally, while passing the blame onto the municipal authorities is a tad optimistic, it is true they could be doing more to mitigate these kinds of risks via firmer rules and regulations.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Perhaps their pension support was not enough to pay for all of lifes essentials, or perhaps they were 'doing the right thing' and curbing electricity usage in the Winter as per the Gov. requests?

Either way, it is sad.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Heating equipment but no evidence of use? So, deliberate or unaffordable?

One kerosene/paraffin stove here is the only difference between them and us. We average about 3 - 4,000 yen per month in the winter for heating, but it seems maybe they could not even afford that! Very sad.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Let's wait to see the results of the investigation. I had a friend in elementary school and I stayed at his house one night during winter and I was like wtf is it so cold in here for as I could see my breath. They were just cheap/frugal...

20 ( +23 / -3 )

People don't have to die this way...

25 ( +25 / -0 )


20 ( +21 / -1 )

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