Tokyo's Oldest Man Actually Dead for 30 Yearshttp://www.aolnews.com/world/article/sogen-kato-tokyos-oldest-man-dead...
(July 30) -- When Sogen Kato's 111th birthday rolled around last week, he was hailed as the oldest living man in Tokyo. But there was just one problem with the claim on that title: He'd been lying dead in his bed for some 30 years, which is where city authorities found his mummified skeletal remains Wednesday.
Social workers first became suspicious about the extremely elderly Kato -- born in 1899 -- in February, when they tried to visit the home he supposedly shared with his daughter, 81, son-in-law, 83, grandson, 49, and granddaughter, 53. The officials were refused entry by the grandson, who claimed Kato was living in an old people's home in central Japan, according to The Mainichi Daily News.
That alibi changed when police and government workers returned to the house on Monday, with the aim of congratulating Kato on turning 111 four days earlier. This time, they were chased off by the granddaughter, who said, "My grandfather is well, but he's refused to meet with anyone," the newspaper reported.
But on Wednesday, one of the grandchildren turned up at a police station and confessed that the family knew Kato had died some time ago, as they'd spotted a skull when they tried to enter his room in March.
"Grandpa was a very scary man. So we couldn't open the door,'' the grandchild told police, according to Japan Today, adding that Kato had "shut himself up in the room without food or water" some 30 years ago with the aim of becoming a "living Buddha." Officers who searched the house later that day found Kato's mummified remains, clad in long underwear and covered by a blanket, lying faceup in bed.
An autopsy failed to pinpoint the cause of death, but police said a newspaper and local government report dated November 1978 were found next to the corpse, suggesting Kato died around this time.
While the grandfather may have willingly locked himself away, it appears as though his family had good reason to keep mum about his gradual mummification. Japan Today reported that police are investigating whether the family fraudulently claimed a $110,000 survivor pension Kato would have been entitled to (if he'd been alive) when his 101-year-old wife died in 2004, noting that over $31,000 had been withdrawn from the grandfather's bank account earlier this month.