Death is one of the eventualities for us all and something that in many cultures around the world is taboo - something that is clearly not on the table for discussion.
Things are changing in Japan and elsewhere around the world, especially for the family business community where the death of someone in a key role in the business can be even more of a tragedy. There is clearly a need for open dialogue and communication is so important.
Succession planning in general is always a challenge and not often discussed, in part due to a reluctance to consider a life when one is no longer on the planet, but it will happen, and someone else will be at the helm.
Clearly, talking about the future and sharing wishes can help, not only to remove a layer of anxst during the emotional time of grief but also to help an open and honest succession process too.
The more people that talk about and document their long term plans, and planning for later life, and ultimately death, the better, as it can take away a layer of taboo and engender greater opportunities for a successful succession too.
Talking about death is still taboo for some Japanese—and in parts of the country the burakumin, an often ostracised group who are descendants of medieval outcasts, still fill a large share of jobs in the funeral business. But for many others the taboo is broken. A 2008 film, “Departures”, movingly depicted the beauty and dignity of nokan, the (Buddhist-derived) ritual cleansing ceremony for the recently deceased, carried out at home before laying the body in a coffin for cremation. The film’s success led to a wave of job applications to perform nokan. Not long after, the Weekly Asahi, a magazine, began promoting the idea of shukatsu, planning for the end of life, in the hope of interesting readers and attracting advertisers.