September 14, 2011

JAPAN: Number of centenarians tops 47,000

TOKYO, Japan / The Japan Times / Life in Japan / September 14, 2011

The number of Japanese aged 100 or above is expected to top 47,000 as of Sept. 15, setting a new record for the 41st straight year, the health ministry said Tuesday, reports Kyodo.

The number of centenarians is projected to reach 47,756 as of Thursday, up 3,307 from a year earlier, according to a ministry survey conducted ahead of Respect for the Aged Day next Monday.

Among them is Jirouemon Kimura, of Kyotango, Kyoto Prefecture, who at 114 is recognized as the world's oldest man by Guinness World Records. Kimura was born April 19, 1897.

The oldest person in the country, however, is 114-year-old Chiyono Hasegawa, who lives in Kiyama, Saga Prefecture, and was born Nov. 20, 1896.

For its calculations the ministry used Sept. 15, which until 2002 was traditionally designated as a national holiday to respect the elderly. Since 2003, the holiday has been observed on the third Monday of September.

An estimated 24,952 people are set to turn 100 in the fiscal year through next March 31, up 1,683, the survey showed.

The credibility of last year's data was called into question after it was discovered that pension payments were being made to a number of elderly people, including centenarians, of whom there was no trace at their registered addresses.

This year, the ministry said authorities have confirmed that people who have either turned or are about to turn 100 are alive and kicking.

The tally of those aged 101 or older, however, was based on residential registrations and may include some elderly who remain unaccounted for since the March 11 disasters.

(C) The Japan Times
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