【Aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan】No.25: The number of people who go missing because of dementia is rapidly increasing

In this column series, Yukihiro Matsuyama, Research Director at CIGS introduces the latest information about aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan with data of international comparison.

A joint conference has been established for government ministries and agencies to study how to create communities friendly to elderly residents with dementia. According to conference data, the number of people with dementia in Japan was 4.6 million in 2012, equating to 1 in approximately 7 people aged 65 or older. This number is expected to rise as the population ages. According to the latest forecast, the number of people with dementia will increase to 7 million in 2025, which will be approximately one in five people over 65.

With the growing number of people suffering from dementia, various social problems have emerged. For example, the number of people who go missing because of their dementia is rapidly increasing. The National Police Agency began to announce statistics on this problem in 2012. As shown in Figure 1, the number rose from 9,607 missing persons in 2012 to 15,432 missing persons in 2016. Fortunately, most of these missing persons are discovered within a week and returned to their families. However, some missing people are not located until after their deaths.

There were 78 accidents in 2015 caused by people with dementia who were driving vehicles. Nowadays, we see news reports on TV every week describing traffic accidents caused by individuals with dementia driving the wrong way on the highway. There were also cases in which a person with dementia mistakenly entered a railroad, and train operations were interrupted because of an accident. Sometimes, in these cases, railroad companies have requested damages for their families. Subsequently, the government examined the public relief system to consider how better to protect families and to award damages when accidents are caused by those with dementia. However, the government has not yet established a public relief system, and it recommends, instead, the use of private insurance.

Figure 1 Number of missing people because of dementia


(Source)National Police Agency

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