[Hpn] Tokyo - Homeless dead sent to rest by parcel (fwd)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sat, 27 Jan 2001 13:17:10 -0800 (PST)

http://www.asahi.com/english/asahi/0103/asahi010304.html FWD Asahi News [ Tokyo Japan ] - January 3, 2001 DEAD HOMELESS SENT TO REST BY PARCEL Asahi Shimbun Filling an urn with the cremated remains of a recently deceased homeless person, 67-year-old Ryoichi Fujima, places the urn carefully into a wooden box, which he in turn puts in a cardboard box. On this box he places a packing slip stating that the contents are chinaware, so the driver who delivers the package does not feel spooked or uncomfortable. Fujima, an employee of Tokyo Fukushi Kai, a social welfare organization, says he handles between two and six such cases a month, sending remains all over the country. Although he does not keep records, he says he feels such cases have increased dramatically since the collapse of the asset-inflated bubble economy. Some people can only make their way homeward on delivery service trucks once they are dead, incinerated and their remains packed in urns and sent as parcels. A social welfare corporation staff member said there has been a dramatic increase in the number of cases in which they have had to use door-to-door delivery services for sending cremated remains of deceased people to their relatives in their hometowns. Usually, these people die alone and without anyone to collect their remains. Even when they have families or relatives, no one dares to claim the remains. Many such people are homeless or elderly and living alone, estranged from their families. Tokyo Fukushi Kai, based in Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward, cremates the bodies of such people. Many die in hospitals after falling ill while living on the streets or living alone without anyone to take care of them. Tokyo Fukushi Kai handles more than 2,000 cremations a year. Nearly 80 percent of the dead were living on welfare, a corporation staff member said. While most of these people should have been living in Tokyo, they often end up dying in hospitals in faraway places like Gunma or Shizuoka prefectures. Forced to change hospitals every few months, they move further away from Tokyo, the corporation staff member said. When someone on welfare dies, local welfare offices find relatives through the family registry. But even if welfare officials track down a relative, more relatives are refusing to pay funeral costs or pick up the remains. ``Many of the deceased left their hometowns for a reason and lost touch with relatives,'' says Fujima. ``Even so, until not too long ago, relatives used to come over to pick up the remains and offer departing words to the dead. But now, they no longer come, maybe because of the sagging economy.'' He recalled that the first time he sent a parcel of cremated remains via a door-to-door delivery service was about 15 years ago. It was the remains of a person whose hometown was in Hokkaido. It turned out that the only family member, the person's mother, was in a welfare facility and could not come to pick up the remains. The delivery fee is about 2,000 yen per parcel, cash on delivery. In cases in which relatives strongly object to accepting the remains, or when welfare officials cannot locate any relatives, the remains are placed in a potter's field by Tokyo Fukushi Kai. About one-third of all the remains end up in the potter's field. Carrying a box of remains to a delivery company's office, Fujima said: ``They should have been hugged so warmly when they were born. Now they are gone, but at least, they are going back to their hometowns. So I send them off saying, `Now you are going home, at last.''' END FORWARD **In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.** For CONSTANTLY UPDATING HOMELESS NEWS, BOOKMARK HPN Current Archives: Visit HPN for CONSTANTLY UPDATING NEWS on Homeless People: *************************************************************** Over 10,000 articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people Been Homeless? Then JOIN! EMAIL Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net> Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy ***************************************************************