The Justice Ministry announced Friday that the existence of 234,354 centenarians listed as "alive" in family registries can't be confirmed.

The finding was reached after the ministry decided to carry out a nationwide survey on centenarians to get to the bottom of a growing pension fraud scandal that could challenge Japan's long-engrained reputation for longevity.

If alive, 77,118 of them would be 120 years old or older and 884 would be at least 150, tracing their origins to the Edo Period. That's a lot bigger than the 800 or so elderly listed as 85 or older who the welfare ministry said last month might be illegally receiving pension money.