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Tokyo’s oldest listed person, age 113, is missing

TOKYO - A 113-year-old woman listed as Tokyo’s oldest person is missing, officials said Tuesday, days after the city’s oldest listed man was found dead and mummified.

Fusa Furuya, born in July 1897, does not live at the address where she is registered and her whereabouts are unknown, Tokyo Suginami ward official Hiroshi Sugimoto said.

Her disappearance surfaced just days after the shocking discovery last week of the mummified body of the man Tokyo officials thought was the city’s oldest living male.

Officials said they had not personally contacted the two people for decades despite listing them as the city’s longest-living. They apparently learned of the man’s death and the woman’s  disappearance when they began updating records ahead of a holiday honoring the elderly next month.

Officials visited Furuya’s apartment last Friday, but her 79-year-old daughter said she has never lived there.

The daughter, whose name was not disclosed, told officials she was not aware of her mother’s registration at that address and said she thought her mother was just outside Tokyo with her younger brother, with whom she has lost touch.

But when officials checked that address they found a vacant lot.

Officials are also looking for a 106-year-old man who is missing in Nagoya, central Japan, Kyodo News agency reported. The Asahi newspaper said three more listed centenarians were unaccounted for.

The number of centenarians in Japan has been rising for decades.

Japan has 40,399 people aged 100 or older, including 4,800 in Tokyo, according to an annual health ministry report last year marking a Sept. 21 holiday honoring the elderly. Each centenarian receives a letter and a gift from a local government office — usually by mail.

In the earlier case, police are investigating the family of Sogen Kato on suspicion of abandonment and swindling his pension money. Once listed as being 111 years old, he is now believed to have died 32 years ago, about the time his family said he retreated to his bedroom, wanting to be a living Buddha.

Health and Welfare Minister Akira Nagatsuma has urged officials to find a better way to monitor centenarians, but local officials say it is hard to keep track because their families are often reluctant to receive official visits.

Many also send their elderly relatives to nursing homes without doing the proper paperwork.


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