A total of 62 residents of a housing built in Hyogo Prefecture for survivors of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake died solitary deaths in 2009, a survey showed.
The tally, based on prefectural police autopsy results, showed that the number of solitary deaths among the residents suddenly increased last year after declining from 2005 to 46 in 2008, bringing the total number of solitary deaths since 2000 to 630. Of those who died in 2009, 44 were men and 18 were women, and 58 were aged 60 or over. The oldest person was a 93-year-old man in Kobe.
Illness was the primary cause, accounting for 51 deaths, while six people died of accidents including fire and drowning in the bath and five committed suicide. Twenty-four of the residents were found dead by relatives, 11 by city officials or social workers, eight by friends or neighbors and the remainder by other people.
It took more than a month before three of the residents were found dead and in the case of a 64-year-old man in Kobe, six months passed before he was found dead by his family in April last year.
As of the end of November 2009, 48 per cent of the residents in the special housing were aged 65 or over, twice the figure for ordinary prefectural housing. The housing located in Hyogo Prefecture in the western part of Midwest Japan was built for the survivors of the Great Hanshin earthquake or Kobe earthquake which claimed the lives of around 6,434 people.