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Friday, May 6, 2011

Weekend Randomness: The Case of Tokyo's Oldest Man

This story is one of the site's most popular Weekend Randomness post originally posted on the 31st of July last year. Its a genuinely bizarre story and one of my personal favourites. 

The current world life expectancy average is 67.5 years with the Japanese being the most long lived population in the world with average life expectancy of 82.6 years. This contrasts with the average in Swaziland of just 39.6 years. This weekends random news comes from Tokyo, a thriving metropolis of nearly 14,000,000 people.

 So in such a long lived population there is a lot of interest in just who is the most aged resident in the city. Up until this week the record was held by one Sogen Kato a man of 111 years. The record for world's oldest man is held by another Japanese person Tamoji Tanabe in the Southern City of Miyakonojo. He is also 111 years.

Now this is where our story takes an eerie turn. Recently the record keepers in Tokyo were updating their list of centenarians in preparation for Japan's Elderly Day (best idea ever) taking place in September.. He hadn't been seen in public in 30 years and his family had claimed him to be a devout Buddhist choosing the path of a Buddha on earth without food, water or contact with the outside world. Every time the authorities wanted to search the house they were told Kato was out of town.

However, this past week family members reported seeing a skull in his old bedroom. The police called to the house that same day. What they  found was not the elderly man they had been looking for but his mummified corpse. Sogen Kato was lain on a bed in pajamas and a blanket strewn over him. He had been dead for the entire time, 30 years.

The police have now begun an inquiry into his family members questioning whether they may have fraudulently claimed over 9.5million yen in pension payments. 2.5 million yen was withdrawn from his account earlier this month.

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