"Relic room" in a corner of the housing complex "20 years storage" without being picked up May 5 31:17

Photograph of a man in a wheelchair holding a dog.

It was found among the household belongings left in one room of the public housing. After the death of the man who lived there, no one was found, and more than a year and a half later, it is still there.

"Under the current laws and rules, there is no choice but to do this" (a government official)

The number of rooms where relics that cannot be disposed of are left unattended is increasing in various places.
(Kota Iida, Reporter, Social Affairs Department)

* We are waiting for information from those who are experiencing such problems close to them and those who are dealing with them as a person concerned.

"Almost intact" room

The opening photo was left in a room on the first floor of a public housing in northern Osaka Prefecture.

The building is about 1 years old and is 20LDK in size.

The person in charge
of Osaka Prefecture: "Most of the household goods will remain."

Clothes and bedding are left in the room, and there are small figurines like travel souvenirs in front of the small TV.

The clock on the wall was still moving, even though the time was off.

Why as it is?

According to the person in charge of the Osaka Prefectural Housing Management Office who showed me around, the person who lived in this room was a 77-year-old man.

He lived alone and in a wheelchair.

If you look closely, you can see that the light bulb in the room has a long string attached to it so that it can be reached even when sitting.

The calendar next to the clock is September 2021. It was the same as when the man died in the hospital.

More than a year and a half has passed since then, but the room is "almost the same".

It is conveniently located just a 1-minute walk from the nearest station, and it is large enough that there are many people who want to move in.

When I asked the person in charge of the prefectural government.

A person in charge
of Osaka Prefecture: "In this case, the ratio of lotteries for tenants is more than 20 times, and I think it is the more popular one."

As for why it is still intact nonetheless.

A person in charge
of Osaka Prefecture: "It took a long time to find relatives who could take over the relics as 'heirs,' and in the end we couldn't find them."

The deceased's belongings, such as household goods left in the room, are determined by law to be owned by the "heir", and the government cannot dispose of them arbitrarily.

The consent of all "heirs" was required to dispose of them, so the prefectural government officials first conducted an "heir search" to find relatives of the deceased man.

However, this survey was not easy.

Many households do not have landlines, and if you do not know your mobile phone number, check the family register and send a letter. It takes time to send letters back and forth, and there are many cases where relatives are found but not replied to or denied inheritance.

In the case of men, their parents had already died, and they had no siblings or children. It took several months to complete the investigation with the conclusion that "no heir could be found" because no relatives could be confirmed.

We are now preparing to vacate the room to the next occupant.

"What happens if something happens..."

A room where the belongings of deceased residents are left as they are.

In Osaka Prefecture, the number of prefectural housing units of about 11,6000 units is decreasing year by year due to aging, while the number of such rooms is increasing due to the increase in the number of elderly people and households living alone.

The prefectural government calls these rooms "single-person death houses" and creates a special file to deal with them, but as of the end of March, there were 3 units.

In addition, the storage of relics is long, and some can last up to six years.

In 255, the government announced a policy to address these issues.

"If the heir is not clear, the estate can be sorted and moved elsewhere."

Although the policy expresses this idea, it does not include specific solutions such as disposal methods.

Local government officials who work on the ground say that they feel uneasy about the response.

Yoshiyuki Ozaki, Assistant
Manager, Osaka Prefectural Housing Management Office: "The difficult thing about heir surveys is that there are a certain number of people who do not receive a reply even when we send letters, and we do not know whether they are thinking about inheriting or refusal. I haven't had any problems so far, but sometimes I wonder what will happen if something happens."

Responding with "own rules" for surrender

It cannot be disposed of arbitrarily, but for those who are waiting to move into public housing, it is necessary to proceed with vacating the rooms.

For this reason, Osaka Prefecture has created its own rules to deal with them.

After investigating heirs and requesting the removal of the remains, within a certain period of time (5 months if there are no heirs, 7 months if there are), valuables, albums, ranks, and other items that cannot be replaced by money are moved to another location, and the remaining items are disposed of.

Even in the room of a 77-year-old man in a wheelchair, valuables and other items were organized in a separate cardboard.

It contained ▽ 5 passbooks ▽ 2 watches ▽ 1 credit card

1 point card ▽ 3 seals ▽ 1 set
of keys ▽ 3 rosaries

▽ 2 albums
and , The photo frame introduced at the beginning of this article shows a man holding a dog.

When sorting, prefectural officials always work on multiple tasks, and if cash comes out, work is suspended. It means that everyone in the room is counting the amount.

Cash and passbooks will eventually be placed in the national treasury if no heirs appear.

20 years of "mobile storage" of bitter measures

Another unique response of Osaka Prefecture is "mobile storage".

In order to vacate the room, all relics except valuables are disposed of, but valuables are moved to another place and continue to be stored.

The storage location is one room in another public housing that we plan to demolish in the future.

With the guidance of the person in charge of the prefectural government, I was allowed to enter this storage room.

Cardboard boxes containing valuables are placed in a three-and-a-half-tatami room, and they are piled up in another room with wooden floors.

The total number is about 67 boxes for 70 people. The valuables stored throughout Osaka Prefecture are enough for 488 people.

Under civil law, it takes 20 years for an heir to lose ownership. In the meantime, we continue to manage it so that if the heir comes to receive it, it can be handed over.

We also conduct regular patrols in case of loss, theft, fire, etc.

Yoshiyuki Ozaki, Assistant
Manager, Osaka Prefectural Housing Management Office: "We are waiting for even one person to come and pick it up, but so far no one has come.

There are rooms in public housing all over the country where relics that have no heirs or have been refused to take them are left untouched.

Four years ago, the national government surveyed municipalities nationwide and found that 4 municipalities, or 17.7% of the total, had such rooms, and the number of such rooms amounted to 297,1794.

Of these, if we focus on the period and the application ratio, there are 1 houses with a period of "one year or more" and an application ratio of "1x or more", indicating that the fact that relics are left behind is hindering occupancy.

Experts: "More in the future" "Legislation and support"

What will happen in the future? We asked Professor Mitsuo Fujishima of Osaka University of Economics and Law, who is familiar with public housing issues.

Professor Mitsuo Fujishima of Osaka University of Economics and Law:
"When a single resident who has been estranged from his or her relatives for some reason dies, it is natural that the relatives do not feel like cleaning up the belongings at their own expense, and it is likely that this will increase in the future.

He then points out the following about what is needed to solve the problem.

Professor Mitsuo Fujishima of Osaka University of Economics and Law:
"Public housing is housing for low-income people who are in need of housing, and in order to continue to play the role of a 'housing safety net' for people who have difficulty finding a place to live, it is necessary to develop laws that allow the disposal of relics under certain conditions, as well as financial support for heir surveys and storage of relics."

"Everybody can do this."

In this interview, I entered three rooms, including the "storage room," and visited many relics, but not all of them were as often imagined, with the people who left their belongings "old" and "isolated".

One room in a public housing in southern Osaka Prefecture was also a room where relics had been left unattended for two years and nine months.

Originally, three people, parents and son, lived there, but their parents died first, and the son also died at the age of 2. The only relative's sister is that she renounced the inheritance.

In addition to household goods such as chests of drawers, refrigerators, and cupboards, as well as a set of household appliances, there were many New Year's gifts, congratulatory bags, and other items that conveyed that he had spent his days with connections with people.

In addition, the 77-year-old man in a wheelchair at the beginning of the article had no siblings or children and no relatives, but there were many photos of him going on trips and doing karaoke at restaurants, indicating that he was enjoying life.

This time, Mr. Ozaki, the person in charge of the prefectural government who showed me around, suddenly said the words that stuck in my heart during the interview.

Yoshiyuki Ozaki, Assistant
Manager, Osaka Prefectural Housing Management Office: "In such cases, the image of the deceased person is that of the elderly, but there are also people in their 30s and 40s who die alone. I don't think that's the case. In that sense, I think this kind of thing can happen to anyone."

As the number of single-person households continues to increase, we will continue to cover this theme, which cannot be said to be a matter for everyone.

* Regarding the rooms where the relics were left, local governments in public housing, management associations and landlords in private condominiums and apartments are struggling to respond.

We are looking forward to hearing from those who are familiar with these problems and who are dealing with them as a party concerned.

【News Post】We would like to hear more about this issue

Social Affairs DepartmentReporter
IidaAfter joining
the Chiba
Bureau, Akita Bureau, Network News Department, etc., I looked back at myself every time I saw the personality of the resident and the relics that left warmth.

Good morning Japan Director
Maruoka joined the Hiroshima Bureau in 17
, Social Program Department, and Large-Scale Planning and Development Center, and then joined his current department
: "It takes time and money to sort out the belongings of relatives.