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230,000 Japan centenarians missing

More than 230,000 Japanese listed as at least 100 years old can not be found and may have died long ago, according to a government survey.

The Justice Ministry ordered a review of records that found about 77,000 people who would be at least 120, and 884 people who would be 150 or older.

The head count followed a flurry of reports about how elderly people are falling through the cracks in Japan as its population ages rapidly and family ties weaken.

In all, the ministry said, the survey of family registration records nationwide found that 234,354 centenarians were still listed as alive, but their whereabouts were unknown.

A ministry official said many of the missing people had probably died, lost touch with relatives or moved overseas.

The inquiry followed the discovery in July of the mummified remains of Sogen Kato, thought to be the oldest man in Tokyo.

When officials went to congratulate him on his 111th birthday, they found his 30-year-old remains.

Reports said he had received about £70,000 in pension payments since his wife's death six years ago, and some of the money had been withdrawn.

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