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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
September 1, 2016

Managing One’s Own Death: The Shūkatsu Industry and the Enterprising Self in an Ageing Society

Japan ranks among the first in the world in terms of average life-expectancy, but its combination of high-age with a low birthrate is gradually turning it into a “society of many deaths” (tashi shakai). With the current change in family structures, the need to make arrangements for one’s own passing is felt by an ever growing number of people. Trying to cash in on this demand, the ailing funeral industry has started to urge individuals to take care of their own future grave, funeral, inheritance, elderly care and property clean-up, promoting these activities under the label “shūkatsu” (end of life activity).