Japan's largest shipping company, Nippon Yusen KK
, plans to offer a new funeral ash-scattering service in a bid to capitalize on demand fueled by the high cost of cemeteries in Japan. Although Japan
's land prices fell for the 10th straight year in 2000, prices of graveyard plots have been soaring, particularly in big urban areas. As a result, many people want the ashes of their remains or those of their loved ones to be scattered in the ocean, particularly in the South Pacific, where many of Japan's elderly lost children or husbands during World War Two.
And Nippon Yusen hopes to cash in on this growing demand through a business tie-up with Hasegawa, Japan's largest chain store operator of Buddhist altars, the business daily said. Hasegawa will handle the funeral ceremony and a Nippon Yusen vessel
will take the remains out to the ocean and scatter them.
The ship's captain will then sign a certificate verifying that the ashes have been scattered in the sea and give the certificate to the surviving relatives. Countries around the world permit the scattering of ashes in the sea so long as it is at least 20 km from shore, Nikkei said, adding that the cost for the ash-scattering service had yet to be decided. - (Reuters)