More join the ranks of the missing!

Just a quick update on my previous post. While I earlier mentioned that Japanese officials estimated that there were about 75 people missing across Japan, it now appears that there are 105 centenarians unaccounted for in the city of Kobe alone. Yikes! The Health Ministry is also reportedly investigating cases involving 840 people over the age of 85 in connection with potentially fraudulent pension claims.

21 of these people would be older than the nation’s current official oldest person of 113 years. Interestingly, the address of one would-be 125-year-old woman has been a park since 1981.

It seems clear that more of these cases are going to keep cropping up around the country, as panicked social workers desperately try to find all of the elderly for whom they’ve been nominally responsible. The story has been picked up by the international press. Some point to the dubious state of Japanese pension records. This is, after all, the country that managed to lose over 50 million Japanese pension files–or rather, the records are there, they’re just not matchable to their actual owners. Others wonder if Japan’s famous reputation for longevity will be harmed by what has obviously been inaccurate record-keeping. Prime Minister Kan claims that the erosion of social bonds is responsible for the missing elderly.

What a mess!