• Kyodo News


The Fair Trade Commission urged undertakers and funeral-related businesses Wednesday to fully inform clients of their fees.

The request came after an FTC survey found 26.3 percent of the firms gave no cost estimates unless customers asked for them.

The FTC surveyed 1,071 funeral businesses and about 1,033 customers between January and April.

Of the 397 customers who responded, 35.8 percent said they never received price estimates.

The survey found only 54.5 percent of the funeral-service providers had price lists and catalogs with pictures outlining their services at their offices. And even fewer firms offered detailed information on costs that depended on such variables as the the number of funeral attendants and weather.

Undertakers designated by hospitals as official transporters of the deceased often have an advantage in getting contracts from customers.

Some surveyed customers said those undertakers were forceful in persuading relatives to sign contacts at the morgue.

The FTC warned against such conduct, saying it could be a violation of the Antimonopoly Law.

According to the survey, funeral-related businesses, including florists and food delivery services, often have trouble with undertakers, as they expect the firms to provide personnel and financial support for the funeral ceremonies.

FTC Secretary General Akinori Uesugi said during a news conference Wednesday that customers cannot compare different funeral services because they are often unprepared and must make quick decisions.

“In normal transactions, customers can choose other service providers at another time if the services are bad. But they cannot do so for funerals,” he said.

An FTC official said the average cost of funeral services is 1.4 million yen, excluding offerings made to religious organization.

Uesugi said the funeral-services market is worth about 1 trillion yen.

The survey covered 2,629 funeral businesses — about half the total number nationwide — and drew responses from 40.7 percent, or 1,071, of them. Of the 1,087 customers surveyed, 95 percent responded.

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