The drama of the missing Japanese centenarians continues

Earlier I wrote that Japan realized it had lost track of a lot of their oldest people and they had discovered that their “oldest living man” had in fact died 30 years ago and his family was keeping his body in the house and stealing his pension money. Well, Japan is still scrambling to find out the whereabouts and well-being of the 40,000 or so centenarians allegedly living within their borders. (For the uninitiated, “centenarian” means a person over 100 years old.)

The Times of India has a great quote about the problems inherent in Japanese record-keeping: “The pension system is founded on the premise that people are good, not that they kill family members at home, and bury them.” The Wall Street Journal is also covering the story.

In America, after an old person receiving Social Security reaches a certain age (not sure what age, probably 90 or so) they are required to personally present themselves to the Social Security Administration to prove they are still alive. This is what got Walter Dunson‘s son in trouble and forced him to report his long-dead father missing. Japan ought to adopt a similar system, as it seems like the only surefire method to prove these people are, in fact, living and receiving their benefits. And maybe include a fingerprint check or something too, so some random old person can’t impersonate the person the SSA wants to see.

5 thoughts on “The drama of the missing Japanese centenarians continues

  1. Nan August 7, 2010 / 5:21 pm

    WTH is with people? So half wits murder their parents for a check of $600-$1500/month? I can’t believe any of those centerians are pulling in monster size pensions checks.

    At least Bernie Madoff made it worth his while. If your gonna steal, steal big! You’ll be sitting in prison whether it’s ripping off $12K/year or millions.

    I’d rather live large in the mean time before I get caught.

    • Meaghan August 7, 2010 / 5:25 pm

      I think probably more often the parents simply die and the children conceal their deaths. Also, as some of the articles note, a great many of these elderly parents have middle-aged, unemployed children who are living in their house leeching off them. When the parent dies and the pension ceases, the parasitic child has no income, so they have a strong motive to conceal the death.

  2. Princess Shantae August 7, 2010 / 6:55 pm

    I wonder if maybe the relatives don’t report them as dead because Japan is so proud of itself for having so many 100plus people? Better to say My grandma is 110! then say My grandma died and she was only 80.

    • Meaghan August 7, 2010 / 10:31 pm

      I frankly don’t understand the civilized world’s obsession with longevity. People get old these days and instead of just dying, they crumble apart by degrees in a long, slow, often painful slide towards death. Me, I’d rather die at 65 if it meant I’d be healthy until the end of my life.

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