Friday, August 20, 2010

Respect Your Elders?

Japan has a problem: they’re missing old people.

It all started in late July, when officials planned a celebration for Tokyo’s oldest man, Sogen Kato, on his 111th birthday. Family shooed the officials away without meeting Mr. Kato.

After a short investigation, Mr. Kato was found in his underwear and pajamas, dead. In fact, he was mummified, having died perhaps 30 years ago, when his family claims he confined himself to his room and (wait for it…) became a “living Buddha.”

I knew something this crazy had to have religion involved, somehow.

If the Norman Bates vibe isn’t bad enough, the real crime was the ¥9.5 million (or $109,000) in pension benefits that had been paid to Mr. Kato… some of it being withdrawn recently.

This prompted an investigation into other centenarians throughout Japan. Tokyo’s “oldest woman” has been missing for decades, registered as having lived with her daughter who claims to have not had contact with her since before she moved into her current home in 1986. Fraud is not an issue in this case. In fact, the daughter has been paying for her mother’s health insurance this whole time, “just in case.”

One unaccounted for woman was reported to be 125 years old, and her last registered address was turned into a park in 1981.

A 64 year old man had kept his mother’s remains in a backpack because he did not have the money for funeral arrangements when she died in 2001. No word on why he was cashing in on her pension, yet still could not find the cash.

There are over 40,000 Japanese citizens reported to be over 100. Expect that number to drop significantly in the coming months, and years, as the investigation continues.


  1. Psst. Let you in on a secret. People are nuts with or without religion.

  2. Religion is not necessary for insanity, but it is a shortcut.


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