TOKYO-A Japanese funeral parlour is set to offer relatives the chance to pay their final respects to deceased loved ones without leaving the comfort of their cars.

The firm claims that the “drive-thru” service is a first in Japan, where a rapidly ageing population means funerals are anything but a dying trade.

Elderly mourners can register their names on a touchscreen tablet device and make a traditional offering of incense just by rolling down a car window - a process relayed to screens inside the venue for the grieving funeral host to watch.

The initiative aims to speed up funeral services and also to give infirm relatives the chance to participate, said the firm’s president Masao Ogiwara.

“Older people may hesitate to attend a funeral because they have to ask for help to get out of the car,” Ogiwara told AFP.

“But we want as many people as possible to be able to come to say farewell to their friends or neighbours,” he said.

It usually takes at least 15 minutes for someone in a wheelchair to offer incense at the altar during a traditional Japanese funeral ceremony. Ogiwara said the time is cut down to just a few minutes by the service, which the Kankon Sosai Aichi Group in the central Nagano prefecture expects to offer from December.