Revenge of the Caretakers

All those old people in Japan who out live all of us by eating fish and rice fashioned into bite-sized morsels that require wasabi and soy sauce to provide flavor? Yeah, well, not so much. A good number of those 100+ geezers in Japan actually died a long time ago, but their relatives failed to report their deaths in order to collect pension money.

has long boasted of having many of the world’s oldest people —
testament, many here say, to a society with a superior diet and a
commitment to its elderly that is unrivaled in the West.

That was before the police found the body of a man thought to be one of
Japan’s oldest, at 111 years, mummified in his bed, dead for more than
three decades. His daughter, now 81, hid his death to continue
collecting his monthly pension payments, the police said.

There may have been a few hundred cases of mummies collecting pensions in Japan. Police are banging on doors demanding that people produce their grandmothers.

Foodies are in an up roar. Is the much-touted Asian diet a hoax?

This is what happens when caretakers are unappreciated by society. If the state won't appreciate and compensate their work, then they'll find other ways to get their just rewards.


6 thoughts on “Revenge of the Caretakers

  1. That kind of stuff happens around here, with two differences. Nobody get mummified (because the backyard works fine) and the person collecting isn’t anywhere near 81. There must be something to the food in Japan.

  2. It’s wonderfully macabre. The old-person scandal/panic when I was last in Japan was kodoku-shi, or the old person dying alone in their anonymous apartment flat, and not discovered for years. (When this story first broke here, I thought it was that story instead.)
    I’m not sure the stats for longevity will really be hurt by these cases. If I remember correctly, average lifespan varies location to location in Japan, with the longest in Okinawa. (So I guess spam might be good for you?)

  3. “That kind of stuff happens around here…”
    Yes, that is a perennial media story in the US. And MH is quite correct that the US fraudsters are rarely octogenarians (although I believe I’ve seen a couple US cases with unburied corpses).

  4. “This is what happens when caretakers are unappreciated by society. If the state won’t appreciate and compensate their work, then they’ll find other ways to get their just rewards.”
    That’s an interesting thought, but I’m doubtful. The propensity to commit fraud doesn’t seem especially well-correlated with a feeling that one is paid less than moral desert demands; cf Enron. And my guess is that *thirty years* of fraudulent pension collection might have overcome any moral entitlement gap a long time before.
    And the people in the article are only occasionally “caretakers.” Yes, the mummy case had a daughter living with her father, but
    “In a more typical case that took place just blocks from the Mr. Kato’s house, relatives of a man listed as 103 years old said he had left home 38 years ago and never returned. The man’s son, now 73, told officials that he continued to collect his father’s pension “in case he returned one day.”
    A 35-year old Japanese man with a 65-year old father is not a caretaker, and he doesn’t decide to commit fraud because his caretaking is unappreciated. Even if his independent and mobile father moved in with him five years before, I’m pretty sure that 38 years of payments do a lot more than make up for that five-year inconvenience…

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