Japan has launched a search for its centenarians after it turned out that the oldest woman registered in Tokyo has been missing for many years and the oldest man was dead.
Sometimes officials lose track of elderly people when they are put in homes
Fusa Furuya, who is reportedly aged 113, does not live at the address where she is registered and her whereabouts are unknown, officials in the Japanese capital said on Wednesday. This admission comes just days after it was discovered that the city's supposedly oldest man had been dead for decades.
Mrs Furuya, who was born in 1897, was registered as living with her daughter, however it turns out that she has not been seen since the 1980s. The 79-year-old daughter, whose name has not been disclosed, said she thought her mother was living on the outskirts of Tokyo with her estranged younger brother. Officials have now launched efforts to find Mrs Furuya's son.
Mummified body of Tokyo's eldest man found
Last week, the mummified body of the man who was thought to be Tokyo's eldest was discovered at his residence. Sogen Kato who was born 111 years ago is thought now to have been dead for the past 30 years.
The police have launched an investigation into whether Sogen Kato might have been abandoned by his family that is suspected of swindling his pension.
Officials admitted that they had not contacted the two people registered as the city’s oldest citizens for decades.
There are reportedly 2,500 centenarians in Tokyo alone
Over 40,000 centenarians in Japan
All this has come to the surface as a result of an attempt to update records ahead of a holiday honouring the elderly next month. According to the authorities there are over 40,000 centenarians in Japan, 2,500 in Tokyo alone.
Citizens are asking how people could vanish so easily and have urged officials to find a better way to check up on centenarians. However, local officials argue it is difficult sometimes to keep track of the elderly as their families are reluctant to receive official visits. Many elderly people are sent by their relatives to nursing homes without the proper paperwork being done.
Japan has a tradition of giving birthday gifts to centenarians, but often the presents are handed to family members, and workers are unable to confirm whether or not the elderly person has received them.
Editor: Anne Thomas