By TAKURO YAGI/ Staff Writer
July 3, 2020 at 19:28 JST
A GPS device that the Sagamihara city government rents to residents, attached inside a shoe. The device enables relatives of those with dementia to locate them if they get lost. (Provided by the Sagamihara city government)
A total of 17,479 people with dementia were reported missing in Japan in 2019, a record high for the seventh straight year, according to a new police report.
The vast majority were found alive the same day they were reported missing.
The number of missing people with dementia rose 552 from 2018, the National Police Agency announced on July 2.
A total of 245 reported missing in 2019 were not found during the same year while 460, including those who were reported missing in or before 2018, were found dead.
The percentage of people with dementia among all missing people is rising annually in Japan, reaching 20.1 percent in 2019.
Those aged 70 or older made up the largest number of people with dementia reported missing, accounting for 92.6 percent.
By prefectural police departments, Osaka received the highest number of reports of people with dementia going missing at 2,007, followed by Saitama with 1,960, Hyogo with 1,778, Kanagawa with 1,593, Aichi with 1,468 and the Metropolitan Police Department in Tokyo with 1,174.
Last year, 17,340, including those reported missing in or before 2018, were located. Of these, 96.7 percent were found alive. Among those, 71.7 percent were located the same day they were reported missing, and 99.4 percent were found within a week after being reported missing.
The welfare ministry estimates that some 7 million elderly people, or one in five, will have dementia in Japan by 2025, up from about 4.62 million in 2012.
Local governments nationwide are implementing measures to help find those missing people.
In an October survey of municipalities conducted by the welfare ministry, about 80 percent of respondents said they had created a network to locate missing people by sharing information about them in real time with police, companies and organizations.
Some 40 percent of the municipalities responded that they rented or lent residents a GPS device that people with dementia can carry to help loved ones locate them if they go missing, or provided subsidies for purchasing the device.
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