“Long time passing,” you chorus.
Ah, but in the land of ancestor worship, veneration of old age has been seduced by the dark side.
First, a little background.
On 18/09/2007, Tomoji Tanabe, who became the oldest man alive when Emiliano Mercado Del Toro died aged 115, celebrated his 112th birthday.
Apparently, the bar had been set.
And so, on 22/7/2010, officials in Tokyo went to the home of Sogen Kato, registered as being 111 years old, in order t0 help him celebrate becoming Japan’s Oldest Man.
Alas, all they found were his mummified remains. He had actually died 30 years earlier, aged 81, and since then, his family had allegedly been trying to claim the 9.5 million yen (or 109,000 USD) widower’s pension guaranteed to him.
This has caused an outcry among the netizens. Typical of the comments is that of Wondering, Mendo, CA, who wrote;
“Wow, it takes thirty years for them to realize this man is dead and they have been claiming him as the world’s oldest! It just doesn’t seem right!”
Priorities are, of course, the thing.
Well, if the Oldest Man was a fraud, surely the Oldest Woman would uphold the honour of the ancestors?
Unfortunately, Japan’s Oldest Woman, Fusa Furuya, aged 113, was not at home. In fact, she hadn’t been home since 1986.
Doubtless, her family had waited more than 30yrs to report her missing in case she had just popped out to buy some cigarettes and would be embarrassed by any fuss.
Pension? What pension?
This has belatedly prompted authorities to verify the existence of more than 40,ooo alleged centenarians. As German magazine Stern has put it – Thousands of “Hundred Years” has long since dead. (Google Translate likes this!)
It is now feared that a further 281 possible centenarians are also missing, including 21 people who would allegedly be older than the nation’s current official oldest person – that’s the chappie who died 30 yrs. ago.
Are we seeing a pattern yet?
The latest case is that of a 64-year-old man, who told officials that his mother had died at home in Tokyo in “about June 2001”. Sankei Shimbun newspaper quoted him as saying, “I laid out her body for a while, washed it in the bath, then broke up the bones and put them into a backpack.”
Well, you would, wouldn’t you?
Of course, it is not only people who are famed for longevity in Japan.
The 130-million-year-old jaw and skull bones of a plant-eating lizard were unearthed in the Ishikawa Prefecture of Japan. All right, technically not actually alive now, but if it hadn’t previously been reported as dead…?
Well, then, how about the Oldest Dog?
Pu (as his friends and family know him) is a crossbreed dog that lives with Yumiko Shinohara, a housewife from Sakura, Japan. According to the Daily Yomiuri, Pu was born in March 1985 at the home of one of Yumiko’s relatives.
This can be proved via a local pet register that scrupulously (!) tracks every local pet’s birth and death.
Pu will need to survive at least three more years, preferably not in a backpack, to beat the current champion, a 28-year-old, US-based beagle that died in 2003.
Breaking news on this story is that in Switzerland archaeological finds uncovered in 1873 in the Kesslerloch cave in northern Switzerland included the cranium of a dog dating back 30,000 years.
Officials are said to be sceptical of the veracity of the claim as there is a suggestion that the dog’s owner was Japanese.
OldChinaHand would like to thank the following sources for this article, the facts are theirs, the distortion is his: