TOKYO — In Japan, preparing for major events in life has become an institution. So much so that there’s a whole preparation vocabulary: There’s shukatsu, for when you’re looking for a job; konkatsu, for when you’re looking to get married; and ninkatsu, for when you’re hoping to get pregnant.
Now, Yahoo Japan is helping people get ready for the inevitable, offering “Yahoo Ending,” a service that, among other things, allows Japanese people to send emails to loved ones from beyond the grave.
An animated video on Yahoo Japan’s website asks: “If today was the last day of your life, would you be ready for the journey?”
“Yahoo Japan’s job has been to solve social problems through the power of the Internet and to provide services from the cradle to the grave,” said Megumi Nakashima, a spokeswoman for the company. “We had services for the cradle part but not the grave part.”
This end-of-life preparation is also known as shukatsu (pronounced the same but written differently in Japanese from the job-searching term).
The basic service will deactivate a user’s Yahoo account after his or her death.
It also offers to delete documents, photos and videos from customers’ Yahoo Box online storage accounts and cancel subscription services linked to Yahoo Wallet.
The new Ending service, announced last week, is being portrayed as a way to address the kinds of problems encountered by families around the world who lack the passwords or legal authority necessary to close down Facebook or other online accounts of relatives who have died.
The search engine company will send out an email the user has prepared to as many as 200 addresses and open a “memorial space” bulletin board where people can leave online condolence messages. All this is being offered for just $1.80 a month – which could work out to be a bargain, or could become very expensive, depending on how long a Yahoo customer lives.