When the cleaning worker gets to the house, they put on some protective clothing, rubber gloves, and a gas mask. As they open the door, they find the room to be filled with a nauseating smell. The first step is to spray specially modified chlorine all around the room for sanitization. The smell is caused by the blood and other body fluids that are leaking from the corpse. Although the police have already taken the body, there still remains blood and body fluids that have soaked into the flooring. It is not the same job an ordinary cleaning worker’s. There are special cleaning workers who clean up and sanitize the house when someone dies.
ROAD Co., Inc. makes a business of cleaning the house where the remains are found and tidying up their belongings. The company receives cleaning requests from clients in the Kanto area, especially in Tokyo and Kanagawa. It has now 7 workers and is busy getting phone calls for requests. Mr. Kamata, a representative of the company, welcomed the interview. “To be honest, I am used to this job” he told me. Although he talked about his job calmly, he went through tough times to get to this point. When he started this business he had difficulty dealing with the job. At first, he felt uneasy because sometimes he had to face the harsh reality of someone dying alone. As he underwent a lot of cases, however, he learned how to face this job. When I asked him about how he felt about those who died alone at home, he told me: “I do my job in honor of the people who have died alone. I will not do a sloppy job.”
Today, the aging society is becoming a serious issue in Japan, and the number of people who die alone at home is increasing. In the case of people dying alone, the body sometimes remains for a long period of time without people noticing it, making the smell worsen. “For me, the smell leaking from the body feels like a cry for people who died in sorrow,” Mr. Kamata told me.
At the end of the interview, he said that he hoped his job would play a role in letting people know that there are many people who die alone at home. “I want people to make frequent contact with their relatives or close ones who live alone to check whether they are fine,” he told me.
Written by Rinpei Aoki Edited by Erika Wakabayashi
When I interviewed the special cleaning workers, I found that they engaged in their jobs with strong spirit. They seemed to take pride in their jobs, although some people looked down on what they did. These days more and more elderly people are dying alone at home, because those people have little contact with someone else. About these current situation in aging society in japan, one of the cleaning workers said to me that we have to care about those who live alone in neighborhood. I have learned that what we can do to solve this problem is to treat other people with kindness and love.