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每日英語跟讀 Ep.K039: In Japan, the Elderly Often Live, and Die, Alone估每周有4000人! 日本老人往往獨居獨死

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

每日英語跟讀 Ep.K039: In Japan, the Elderly Often Live, and Die, Alone

Cicadas, every Japanese schoolchild knows, lie underground for years before rising to the earth’s surface in summer. They climb up the nearest tree, where they cast off their shells and start their short second lives. During their few days among us, they mate, fly and cry. They cry until their bodies are found on the ground, twitching in their last moments, or on their backs with their legs pointing upward.

每個日本學童都知道,蟬會在地下蟄伏多年,而後在夏天爬到地表。牠們會攀上最近的樹,在那裡脫殼並展開短促的第二段生命。在與我們人類共處的短短幾天內,牠們交配、飛翔並鳴叫。牠們鳴噪,直到身軀落地,在臨終時抽動,或背部貼地腳朝天。

Chieko Ito hated the din they made. They had just started shrieking, as they always did in early summer, and the noise would keep getting louder in the weeks to come, invading her third-floor apartment, making any kind of silence impossible. As one species of cicadas quieted down, another’s distinct cry would take over. Then, as the insects peaked in numbers, showers of dead and dying cicadas would rain down on her enormous housing complex, stopping only with the end of summer itself.

伊籐千惠子討厭蟬噪。蟬兒才剛開始呼噪,一如既往的初夏。喧噪聲會在未來幾周變得越來越吵,侵擾她的三樓寓所,並扼殺所有的寧靜。當一種蟬安靜時,另一種蟬又會接著聒噪。而後當蟬的數量達到高峰,成批死掉或垂死的蟬就會灑落在她偌大的住宅社區中,直到夏天本身結束為止。

“You hear them from morning to evening,” she sighed.

「從早到晚都聽見牠們在鬧。」伊籐嘆道。

It was the afternoon of her 91st birthday, and unusually hot, part of a heat wave that had community leaders worried. Elderly volunteers had been winding through the labyrinth of footpaths, distributing leaflets on the dangers of heatstroke to the many hundreds of residents like Ito who lived alone in 171 nearly identical white buildings. With no families or visitors to speak of, many older tenants spent weeks or months cocooned in their small apartments, offering little hint of their existence to the world outside their doors. And each year, some of them died without anyone knowing, only to be discovered after their neighbors caught the smell.

這是她91歲生日的下午,天氣異常的熱,這波熱浪令社區主事者憂心。一些年長志工走過迷宮般的小徑,向171棟幾乎一樣白色大樓的數以百計像伊籐這樣獨居的住民發送傳單,提醒他們中暑的危險。許多年紀大的房客沒有家人或訪客可說話,繭居在小寓所幾周或幾個月,讓門外的世界幾乎察覺不到他們的存在。每年他們之中都有一些人在無人知曉的情況下死去,直到鄰居聞到屍臭才被發現。

The first time it happened, or at least the first time it drew national attention, the corpse of a 69-year-old man living near Ito had been lying on the floor for three years, without anyone noticing his absence. His monthly rent and utilities had been withdrawn automatically from his bank account. Finally, after his savings were depleted in 2000, the authorities came to the apartment and found his skeleton near the kitchen, its flesh picked clean by maggots and beetles, just a few feet from his next-door neighbors.

孤獨死第一次發生,或至少頭一次獲得全日本注意,是伊籐家附近一名69歲男子的屍體倒臥在地三年,沒有人發現他不見了。他的每月房租和水電瓦斯費都從個人銀行帳戶自動扣款。最後,他的存款在2000年耗盡,當局來到他家,在廚房附近發現他的骷髏,肉身已被蛆和甲蟲吃光,離隔壁鄰居只有幾英尺遠。

The huge government apartment complex where Ito has lived for nearly 60 years — one of the biggest in Japan, a monument to the nation’s postwar baby boom and aspirations for a modern, U.S. way of life — suddenly became known for something else entirely: the “lonely deaths” of the world’s most rapidly aging society.

伊籐住了近60年的龐大公家住宅社區是日本最大的公家住宅社區之一,標誌著日本戰後嬰兒潮與對現代美式生活方式的嚮往,突然間因為全然不同的事而聲名大噪:世界上老化速度最快社會的「孤獨死」。

“4,000 lonely deaths a week,” estimated the cover of a popular weekly magazine this summer, capturing the national alarm.

今年夏天,某暢銷周刊在封面標題上估計「每周有4000人孤獨死」,令舉國為之一驚。

Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/321753/web/

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