AccScience Publishing / IJPS / Volume 8 / Issue 2 / DOI: 10.36922/ijps.v8i2.301
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RESEARCH ARTICLE

Japan’s death-laden society: Five areas of prospective policy challenges

Masa Higo1*
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1 Institute for Asian and Oceanian Studies, Kyushu University, 744 Motooka, Nishi-ku, Fukuoka, 819-0395, Japan
IJPS 2022, 8(2), 15–24; https://doi.org/10.36922/ijps.v8i2.301
Submitted: 17 June 2022 | Accepted: 20 September 2022 | Published: 11 October 2022
© 2022 by the Author(s). This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution -Noncommercial 4.0 International License (CC-by the license) ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ )
Abstract

Today, Japan stands as the world’s leading super-aged society. In the coming decade, preceding the rest of the aging globe, the country will phase into the next demographic stage called a “death-laden” society. Due in part to the aging and prospective mortality of the country’s two major baby boom generations along with a projected decline in the number of the working age population, Japan will be laden with ballooning deaths from old age from 2030 onward for several decades to come. Only in recent years have researchers started paying attention to this demographic prospect, and to date, little study has been done to systematically examine how the coming of a death-laden society may affect the health, well-being, and comfort of those in advanced age in the country. This paper aims to contribute to the newly emerging body of literature on this subject by exploring, based mainly on findings from expert interviews, five key areas of policy challenges with which Japan’s death-laden society will likely contend. These areas include: (1) shortages in basic medical resources for the dying; (2) mounting public burden of disease; (3) potential prevalence of ‘lonely deaths’ among those in advanced age; (4) urgency to facilitate national discussions on end-of-life options; and (5) crematorium shortages and their cultural impact. The future research is called for to help mitigate the impact of a death-laden society not only for Japan but also for other countries that may follow Japan’s demographic path in the conceivable future.

Keywords
Population aging
Japan
Death-laden society
Death and dying
Policy
Funding
Not applicable.
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Conflict of interest
The author has no conflict of interest to declare.
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International Journal of Population Studies, Electronic ISSN: 2424-8606 Print ISSN: 2424-8150, Published by AccScience Publishing