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Abandoned bodies, bones problem for communities

Date Posted: 2010-04-29

A set of human bones are sitting in a pot next to an electric pole in Nishihara Town’s Kobashigawa area, a symbol of a problem confronting local government agencies.

The problem is that many people can’t afford the costs of making graves for deceased relatives, leaving them to simply abandon the remains at various points around Okinawa. The bones Nishihara Town and Okinawa Electric Power Company, which owns the land, are dealing with is typical. The Okinawa Prefecture Pharmaceutical Sanitation Section says the law prior to 1972 required people to obtain approval from the prefecture governor before building a grave.

Grave costs are now expensive, and many people can’t afford them. Instead, they’re dumping remains at various locations across the island. Naha City’s public gravesite, Shikina Grave Park, reports that about 25% of the remains in place have nobody taking care of them. Shikina Grave Park says illegally dumped bones and garbage are a big problem. The bones and trash attract animals, who prowl the area and create mess.

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