Missing centenarians climb to 281: survey

Cities start to strike names from resident registries

Kyodo News

The number of missing centenarians stands at a total of 281, a Kyodo News tally showed Saturday, as local governments have started to remove their names from resident registries.

Kyoto, with 19 missing people aged 100 or older, has erased all of their resident registrations, while Nagano also removed the name of a man who would be 110 years old, the oldest person in the prefecture, if still alive.

Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture, has also said it plans to delete two missing centenarians from its registry.

The problem of missing centenarians has unfolded nationwide since the discovery in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, in late July of a mummified body, believed to be of the capital’s oldest male residents who was registered as being 111 years old.

Local governments are given the authority to delete names of people from their resident registries regardless of age once they confirm the people in question do not live at their registered address.

A total 59,419 such deletions were conducted in fiscal 2009 that ended in March, with Tokyo accounting for 17,342 of the cases, according to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

Osaka, which has reported 63 missing centenarians so far, said its section that deals with nursing care insurance has known that such cases existed but had not passed on the information to the resident registry section, leading to the big total.

Those missing in Kobe include a woman who would be 125 years old if still alive, 12 years older than the oldest certified person alive in Japan — a 113-year-old woman living in Saga Prefecture, officials said.

Local authorities can also delete the names of people aged 100 or older from their family registries once the Justice Ministry’s regional legal affairs bureau concludes through investigations that they are unlikely to be still alive.

While the Justice Ministry said there are no official records of how many such family registry deletions have been carried out in the past, such procedures have been taken to avoid situations in which people apparently aged 150 or 200 years old are left on registries.