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...