Coming immediately after the case of a 117-year-old man who turned out to be a mummy, the 113-year-old woman supposed to be the oldest person in Tokyo has “disappeared,” with family claiming not to have met her for 25 years.
Many now suspect that much of Japan’s elderly population may in fact be alive in name only, and maintained by unscrupulous relatives for the purpose of making fraudulent pension claims.
The scandal over non-existent old people coincides with the Japanese government releasing updated life expectancy statistics – 79.59 for men and 86.44 for women.
These statistics make Japanese women the longest lived in the world, and place men in the top 5. Overall Japan is the oldest, closely trailed by Hong Kong.
Japan’s huge elderly population is not in doubt, but its large population of centenarians certainly now is.
Local governments administering pension payments apparently often pay out without ever checking whether the recipient is alive, leading to elderly people long since dead being kept on their books to allow claims.
One writer involved with a project to photograph centenarians reports that “there was an extremely large number of cases where we visited their homes but were refused permission by the family or told they don’t actually live there.”
Officials with Japan’s Social Insurance Agency, responsible for handling pensions, also report falsification of pension documents is being uncovered in large numbers.
Japan is also noted for rarely carrying out autopsies compared to other developed nations, leaving even greater scope for fraud.
Not only may Japan face the humiliation of having to re-examine its pride at supposedly having the world’s longest life expectancy, it also faces far more alarming questions over why a nation with crippling national debt in the midst of huge tax hikes, and facing a massive pension crisis, has allowed such fraud to continue unchecked.
Update: Local governments in Tokyo are reporting three men aged 108, 103 and 102 have just been discovered to be “missing.”