A member of staff employed by a specialist home clearance company bags up sheets and blankets in an apartment that was home to an elderly couple. The husband died, and his wife lived alone until she died after spending two years in hospital. Two months later the couple's son hired a specialist cleaning company to clear out the apartment.
'Clean-out' businesses are booming in Japan, aligned to its population of the elderly and childless. 30 percent of the properties that are cleared by professionals involve a so-called 'lonely death'. While 'ghost houses', abandoned by ageing owners, account for a further 20 percent. The industry is also closely linked to the country's growing secondhand market which makes up more than 10 percent of all clothing sales.