Japan Seeks to Find 840 Elderly Residents Amid Pension Scandal

Japan’s government is investigating the whereabouts of 840 pensioners over the age of 85 amid widening concern families may be collecting payments intended for dead relatives.

The search for the elderly residents has been conducted at random since June, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said yesterday in a faxed statement. The result of the inquiry will be released later this month.

Some 57 residents over the age of 100 are unaccounted for, the Mainichi newspaper reported yesterday, citing its own investigation. Japan’s centenarian population has more than tripled to 40,399 people in the past decade, according to ministry statistics released last year.

Officials in Tokyo are also searching for the city’s oldest woman, who would be 113 years if alive, after a scandal involving a man thought to be the city’s oldest living man.

Family members concealed the man’s death for about 30 years, according to a Kyodo News report last week. The man, whose remains were found mummified in the house where he once lived with his daughter, received about 9.5 million yen ($110,000) in pension payments when his wife died six years ago, Kyodo said.

In 2007, the government came under fire after the welfare ministry lost millions of files related to the government-led pension system, stirring concern that citizens in the world’s fastest-aging nation might not receive payments they were due.

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