Of 75 unaccounted for people who, if still alive, would be centenarians, 56 are men, Kyodo News said Saturday based on a survey.
Although there is no official explanation for the apparent gender gap, a gerontology expert noted that men may have a greater tendency to stray than women, who are usually financially dependent on husbands or their offspring.
Data released by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare last September put the number of the nation’s centenarians at a record-high 40,399, of which 34,952 were women and 5,447 were men, presuming they were all alive at the time and accounted for.
But since the July 28 discovery of a mummified man in his Tokyo home who appeared to have been dead a few decades but was still counted as an existing centenarian pensioner, age 111, municipal governments have been scrambling to determine the status of others registered in their midst, resulting in 19 prefectures as of Saturday admitting they cannot confirm the status of 75.
Take the Saitama Prefecture family of a man they claimed to not have seen for 20 years who, if alive, would now be 100. They said he had a tendency to wander away.
Then there’s the family of a man in Kita Ward, Tokyo, who told local officials that he has not been heard of since leaving home 25 years ago, but if alive would be 105.
Michiko Naoi, a gerontology professor at J.F. Oberlin University’s graduate school, said while it is difficult to generalize on the few “missing” centenarians, men have been more prone to roam.
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