BBC News reports that when officials went to congratulate Sogen Kato on his 111th birthday, they uncovered mummified skeletal remains lying in his bed. Mr Kato may have been dead for 30 years according to Japanese authorities. The family had received 9.5 million yen ($109,000: £70,000) in widower’s pension payments via Mr Kato’s bank account since his wife died six years ago, and some of the money had recently been withdrawn.
It is an interesting case of real life mimicking the Alfred Hitchcock directed movie Psycho, where Norman Bates had the skeletal remains of his mother and acted as if she was alive.
The welfare officer had visited Kato’s home once a year since 1992 to hand him a senior transportation pass, but each time his daughter had refused to allow her to see Kato, saying he was in poor health. Since Kato was not a recipient of livelihood protection benefits and was not living alone, officials did not actively investigate.
Doubts about Kato’s whereabouts surfaced in January this year, when he became the topic of discussion at a meeting with residents at the ward office, and participants said he hadn’t been seen for the past few decades.
When the welfare officer subsequently visited Kato’s home on Feb. 4 and asked after him, his 49-year-old grandson told her that he had been living in an institution in Gifu Prefecture for the past five years, as the family had been unable to properly look after him.
After the welfare officer reported the explanation to the ward office, the ward decided to conduct an investigation, and found that Kato had not been using his nursing-care insurance or public health insurance.
Another 78-year-old woman who described the case as “creepy” said she knew Kato’s wife, who died in 2004 at the age of 101, but had never even heard about Kato.