Many of you are familiar with the scandal that has rocked Japan where hundreds of octogenarian believed to be living are in fact missing or dead. Adam posted on the event that launched the nationwide investigation several weeks ago, and since then it has mushroomed, with the problem being particularly pronounced in the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe area. It appears that either because of mere neglect or deliberate pension fraud, relatives never filed a shibou todokede (notification of death) or shissou todokede (notification of a missing person), which Japan’s 19th century family laws rely on to track their elderly.
The joke among friends for the weeks after the scandal broke was that this would lead to the collapse of Japan’s reputation as the kingdom of longevity. Presently, the average life expectancy for women is 86.44 years and the average life expectancy for men is 79.59 years. Surely that number will now have to be readjusted, no?
Apparently not! The Ministry of Labor and Welfare has said that it expects the current events will have very little impact on Japan’s average life expectancy. Why? It turns out that women above age 103 and men above age 98 are excluded from longevity statistics, on grounds that they are statistical outliers. Furthermore, the census conducted every five years is conducted by visiting households, not by consulting the family registry records, so the missing elderly would not be included in that regardless.
Without glossing over the seriousness of the missing elderly, the irony of this fiasco is that it is publicizing the fact that Japan’s average longevity is actually LONGER than we thought.