This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Japanese Elderly

It was recently discovered in Japan that there are more than 234,000 centenarians listed on government records who are, in fact, no longer around. Of course, someone should have raised a red flag after the 2005 census was completed, which enumerated "only" 25,353 people aged 100 or older, scarcely a tenth of those who are considered to be missing, much yet those still alive. However, according to a story in the New York Times, the issue was only recently brought to light:

The furor over Japan’s missing centenarians began in July when the authorities in Tokyo discovered the body of Sogen Kato, the man thought to have been the city’s oldest living man at 111, mummified in his bed, dead for more than three decades.
In late August, the police arrested Mr. Kato’s 81-year-old daughter and his granddaughter on charges of fraudulently collecting his pension and failing to report his death. They said Mr. Kato had gone into his bedroom after a family fight in the late 1970s and had never come out.
The authorities have found many similar cases of relatives collecting pension payments on behalf of aged residents who were missing or dead. In most cases, the older relative had moved away, but relatives failed to report this to keep collecting pension payments.

A report just out from the Japanese government suggests that the actual number of centenarians has now surpassed 36,000 and is quickly on its way up, with the UN Population Division projecting that there could be one million centenarians in Japan in 2050--almost all of them women, and almost certainly some of whom will go missing...



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