「孤独死」をオージーに英語で説明してみよう !

What is kodokushi?

(文:池田俊一 オーストラリア国立大学アジア・太平洋カレッジ日本センター 協力:池田澪奈)


From memory, doesn’t 孤独 (kodoku) mean ‘loneliness’ or ‘solitude’? Then you have 死 (shi), which is ‘death’, so… 孤独死 (kodokushi) would be something like ‘isolated death’?

You pretty much nailed that one. 孤独死 is indeed a word which refers to ‘lonely deaths’, a Japanese phenomenon where people die alone, and remain undiscovered for a long period of time.

Oh. What do you mean by “a long period of time”?

Well, you see, as more and more elderly people are living by themselves in one-person-households, the number of unaccompanied and undetected deaths has also risen, as well.

But surely, their families / friends or even their neighbours would notice??

Well… I guess this is the sad reality of the problem, which is that often, these people have little to no family and friends, and tend to be a little reserved on the social side, so may not have had any interactions with their neighbours at all.

But I mean… It’s just so hard to comprehend. How could someone pass away in their home, and no one notices?

There was one incident in the year 2000 which really put the spotlight onto the 孤独死 phenomenon, when national news covered the story of how a 69-year- old man’s corpse was discovered THREE YEARS after his death. His monthly rent and utilities had been withdrawn automatically from his bank account, and the authorities had only stepped in because his savings had completely depleted; only to find his skeleton near his kitchen. This was only a few feet away from his next-door neighbours in the same apartment complex…

That is just… I have no words.

It’s very grim. I sure hope the government can do more about the issue, because even though they have already rolled out a few initiatives to combat the problem, Japan’s increasingly elderly population will be needing a lot of support. Not just financially – they need to be supported through broader societal challenges such as social isolation and social exclusion, too.






prettymuch ほとんど
nail 正確に意味を捉える
remain undiscovered 発見されないまま
elderly people 年配者
unaccompanied 看取る人のいない
undetected 知られないままの/見つからないままの
reserved on the social side あまり社交的ではない
comprehend 理解する
passaway 「死ぬ」の丁寧な言い方
spot light (世間の)注目
corpse 屍体
stepin 介入する
deplete 枯渇する/残高がなくなる
grim 気味が悪い/ぞっとする
rollout 手を付ける/着手する
societal challenges 社会的な問題
social isolation 社会における孤立
social exclusion 社会における除け者扱い


“But Imean…”という言い方は、「(君が)言っていることは分かるが、自分の言いたいことは、つまり……」という気持ちを伝えたい時に、自分の発言の前に添えるという形で使われる。

【例1】”I heard the COVID vaccine will be rolled out soon.” “But I mean…I wonder if it’s completely safe without further clinical trial sand tests.”「もうすぐコロナに対するワクチンが大量に出回るそうだね」「そうらしいね。しかし、もっと治験をしなくても大丈夫なのかな」

【例2】“Most restaurants are wasting so much food.” “But I mean…What can they do?”「多くのレストランは、たくさん食料を無駄にしているね」「うん、でも、どうしようもないんじゃない?」

【例3】“The government needs to actually listen to the people.” “But Imean…When have they ever done that?”「政府はもっと国民の声を聞くべきじゃないかな」「まあ、確かにそうだが、かつてそんな政府が存在したことがあるかい」

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