Sogen Kato was born all the way back in 1899. He was believed to be Tokyo”s oldest man alive in 2010, at 111 years old. He was to be honored with a special award during Japan”s self explanatory Respect For The Aged Day. When the people from the government arrived, they were mysteriously forbidden from seeing Kato by his relatives. It wasn”t until later that they found out the truth.
On Respect for the Aged Day, officials were told that the reportedly 111 year old Kato could not personally receive his award because he was a “human vegetable”.
When the vegetable excuse didn”t work, the family told them that Kato was still in the process of becoming a Sokushinbutsu, a form of Buddhism that involves self-mummification.
But later when police arrived, they did not see Kato preparing himself to be a mummy, what they saw was just a mummy. By the looks of it, Kato had been dead since 1978, when he was only 79 years old.
But Why Lie?
Turns out Kato was paid an annual pension from the state, which Kato”s relatives collected. It is estimated that one of Kato”s relatives collected 9,500,000 (or $117,939) by pretending Kato was still living. She was sentenced to 2 and a half years in prison.
When Kato was discovered, it sparked a nationwide campaign in Japan to find other missing benefactors who might have died, but due to poor record keeping, probably still receiving pension. It turns out the police didn”t know if 234,354 people over 100 were still alive. 77,000 of them would reportedly have to be over 120 if they were still alive