Centenarians go missing in Japan

Only days after finding out that
Tokyo’s “oldest man” had been dead for 30 years, Japanese officials
got another surprise: The capital’s “oldest woman” hasn’t been seen
for decades.
Fusa Furuya was said to be 113 and listed as living with her daughter, but when
officials went to investigate they were told the mother’s whereabouts were
The 79-year-old daughter said she hadn’t been in contact with her mother since
moving into a new apartment in the 1980s and had no idea that the two were
registered at the same address.Japan has a high life expectancy
and a low birth rate, with an estimated 40,000 people over the age of 100. But
the two cases have put that number in doubt, leading alarmed authorities to
begin a search for other centenarians.
“Understanding the whereabouts of the elderly and their situation is a
very important problem,” Health Minister Akira Nagatsuma said.
The mayor of the Tokyo district where Furuya was thought to live added,
“We would like to confirm the security of the elderly from now on by
meeting them face to face.”
A person’s age is an important factor to the Japanese, who honour the elderly
every year on 21 September.
Furuya’s daughter had kept paying her mother’s health insurance just in case,
and a search has begun for the elderly woman’s son in the hopes that she can be
The daughter gave officials the address where she thought her brother and
mother were living together, but when it was checked it was found to be a
vacant lot.
Inquiries into the elderly were stepped up after the mummified body of Sogen
Kato was found in a relative’s home last week. He was considered for years to
be Tokyo’s oldest living man, but police believe he died 32 years ago.
Widower’s pension funds had been paid to the family for many years, and the
family is under investigation.


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