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by Frank McCoy, From the AARP Bulletin Print Edition, November 1, 2010
In July, Tokyo officials decided to honor the city's oldest resident, a 111-year-old man. After a relative wouldn't let them into the man's home, police were called. The man's remains — he may have been dead for 30 years — were found, and the family was questioned about collecting the deceased's monthly pension.
The centenarian isn't the only one who has been missing. It turns out that thousands of aged Japanese have seemingly vanished.
The furor intensified in September when Japan's Justice Ministry reported that the existence of 234,354 centenarians listed as "alive" in family registries couldn't be confirmed.
Despite frenzied media coverage, so far no one has verified either massive pension fraud or foul play in the disappearances. The Justice Ministry's survey of family registries only showed, embarrassingly, that vital residency data hadn't been updated nationwide for decades.
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