Son kept mother’s bones in backpack for nine years

By Calvin Palmer

Tokyo police searching for the whereabouts of a 104-year-old woman found her bones yesterday stuffed inside her son’s backpack.

The dead woman’s 64-year-old son told police that his mother had died nine years ago but he had not been able to afford a funeral for her.

“She died in about June 2001 in our house,” the man reportedly told officials.

“I laid out her body for a while, washed it in the bath, then broke up the bones and put them into a backpack.”

Police are investigating the man, who lives in an apartment in Tokyo’s Ota ward, on suspicion of criminal damage to a human body and pension fraud.

The ward had sent her 150,000 yen ($1,800) in cash gifts to celebrate what was believed to be her longevity in the past three years, reports said.

Japan has a tradition of giving birthday gifts to centenarians, but the presents are often handed to family members.

This latest police find comes weeks after the discovery a 30-year-old mummified corpse of a man who had been thought to be celebrating his 111th birthday.

Authorities began searching for people who are registered as being more than 100 years old, so far 281 centenarians have been identified as missing.

Government data shows more than 40,000 registered centenarians in Japan, but the number of missing has raised concerns that the welfare system is being exploited by dishonest relatives.

[Based on reports by AFP and BBC News.]

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