In a country where annual deaths are projected to rise 1.7 million by the year 2040, a rapidly aging Japan faces a shortage of crematoriums.
According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, annual deaths in Japan rose to 1.1 million in 2007 and nearly all were cremated.
It is expected that deaths will rise annually to 1.7 million by 2040, which is far beyond what Japan’s 4,900 crematoriums can handle.
Due to high land costs and cultural taboos, expanding the number of crematoriums is no easy task; few Japanese would welcome a crematorium going up next door.
Nagoya’s Yagoto Cemetery has been struggling for the last nine years to build a second crematorium, but opposition from neighbors has blocked construction of the 30-furnace facility.
A non-profit, philanthropic group, the Nippon Foundation, has come to the rescue with a unique solution.
Their idea is to build “floating crematoriums”, ships that could incinerate remains at sea.
Will this ever be a reality?
Only time will tell.