230,000 Elderly in Japan Vanish

Japan was once said to be the greatest place to live to ensure longevity as so many people there live to be 100 and some live far beyond that.  But as an investigation is launched after the high profile case of Japan’s oldest man disappeared, hundreds of thousands of centenarians are suddenly missing.  Is this nation of almost 130 million facing a tremendous conspiracy?

Tokyo’s oldest man turned out to have died several years ago, and Tokyo’s oldest woman has disappeared.  The eerie story suggests that perhaps the claim that Japan is the best place to grow old should be reevaluated.  With more elderly turning up vanished every day by a probe launched by the government, not only has Japan’s population shrunk by several hundred thousand, it’s threatening to shrink even more.

Antisa Khvichava is currently the oldest person in the world at 130 years of age, still living in Georgia.  Antisa is not, however, officially recognized as her birth certificate was destroyed or lost during the Soviet era.  Previously the record for oldest person in the world is 122 years and 164 days belonging to Jeanne Calment of France who lived from February 21st of 1875 until August 4, 1997.  Japan has over 50,000 listings of people aged older than 150 years of age, all false.  In 1978, Shigechiyo Izumi was listed as the oldest person in the world, but this was later disputed as records indicated that Izumi was actually two people using the same birth certificate years apart.

But why would such a massive conspiracy spring up in a culture that reveres and honors the dead normally?  Experts point to the pension system, which allows families to collect pensions with little oversight and possibly never being discovered.  Until lately, that is.  With the new investigation hundreds of thousands of once thought centenarians are now finally being recognized as deceased.

But is there more to the story?  How could so many be thought living without anyone knowing they have been dead for years?  And where do you keep 230,000 bodies?  Not all of them were part of a pension collecting conspiracy, the investigation discovers.  Some immigrated to new places without telling anyone, and some simply vanished without a trace.  Though the most dramatic cases certainly carried with them the troubling possibility of criminal conspiracies, not all were nearly so sensational.

So what can we draw from this terrifying revelation?  Is the world now far smaller after having lost 230,000 elderly?  Though the story is incredible, it is largely an issue of record keeping.  Many of these people disappeared several years ago.  They have not simply vanished without a trace.  At least not all of them.

But is Japan the only country where this is the case?  Many countries, not just Japan, offer pensions well into old age.  And it’s almost certainly not just Japan that has a population of ghosts on their books.  What about the United States or Britain?  Could they too soon uncover a massive population decrease?