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A 63-year-old man who was declared dead 15 years ago was arrested for theft last month, police sources said Thursday.

Masaharu Munekata from Kagoshima Prefecture, who is suspected of breaking into a flower shop in Kunitachi, Tokyo, in July, and stealing ¥200,000 in cash, was declared dead as of Oct. 17, 1995, by a family court at the request of his family.

“As far as I remember, I haven’t contacted my family since 1994 or 1995,” Munekata was quoted as telling investigators. He also claimed he did not know he had been declared dead.

The Civil Code allows a family court to make an adjudication of disappearance if it is not clear whether an absent person is dead or alive for seven years. The family court can rescind the decision if the person is confirmed alive, according to the law.

Munekata told investigators he has committed nearly 200 thefts in Tokyo and Tochigi, Saitama and Chiba prefectures since 2000, and that he does not want the police to tell his relatives of his arrest, the sources said.

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