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Oldest Living Man in Tokyo Police Find Dead for 30 Years

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In The News

The man listed and believed to Tokyo city’s oldest living man isn’t living at all—turns out he actually died about 30 years ago. Tokyo city officials and police have discovered the “oldest living” man’s dead body--mummified in his bed—while family members are investigated for crimes related to pension money received.

Tokyo Police visited the home of Sogen Kato at request of ward officials, who are updating their list of centenarians in advance of “Respect for the Elderly Day” which falls in September. Kato was born July 22, 1899 and has been believed to be the city’s oldest living man—while the Tokyo citizen has actually been dead for many years.

Welfare officials had tried to meet with Kato in person, since earlier in 2010, however Kato family members apparently chased officials away—claiming the Tokyo city man was well but didn't want to see anyone. Tokyo’s Tomoko Iwamatsu, an official at the downtown Adachi Ward where Kato lived issued statement.

Apparently city officials began to grow suspicious—seeking an investigation by police, who actually forced their way into the Kato home. Police discovered a mummified body, believed to be Kato, dressed in underwear and pajamas and lying in bed. The body was covered with a blanket.

A family granddaughter told police investigators that Kato had holed up in his room about 30 years ago--declaring he wanted to be a living Buddha, according to Tokyo police and city officials. It’s now believed that Kato died shortly after the event.

Tokyo police were investigating possible crimes based on suspicion that Kato's family is receiving pension money of the man and his dead wife.

"His [Kato’s] family must have known he has been dead all these years and acted as if nothing happened," said Tokyo metropolitan welfare official Yutaka Muroi. "It's so eerie."

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