Tokyo's 'oldest woman' missing for decades

By Roland Buerk
BBC News, Tokyo

image captionJapanese citizens are famous for their longevity

Tokyo's reputed oldest woman has been missing for decades, Japanese officials have discovered as they made checks after the city's supposed oldest man was found to have died years ago.

Fusa Furuya, aged 113, had been registered as living with her daughter.

But the daughter says she has not seen her mother since the 1980s.

According to government data, there are more than 40,000 centenarians in Japan. But the discoveries in Tokyo have cast doubt on the accuracy of the figures.

Despite being reputed to be Tokyo's oldest woman, it appears no-one had bothered to check that Mrs Furuya was still alive - until now.

Local council officials have been visiting the very elderly after the body of Sogen Kato, thought to be Tokyo's oldest man, was found last week.

The police believe he had been dead for more than 30 years.

When officials went to Ms Furuya's home, they discovered that she had been missing for decades.

Her daughter told them she had not been in contact with her mother when she moved into the flat in 1986.

But she had registered her mother as living there, and kept paying her health insurance, just in case.

Efforts are now under way to trace Mrs Furuya's son to find out if she is living with him.

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