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A record 15,863 people went missing due to dementia in 2017: police stats

TOKYO -- A total of 15,863 people went missing due to dementia last year, marking a new record for the fifth successive year, according to National Police Agency (NPA) statistics released on June 14.

The total number of people with dementia who were reported missing to police across the country was up 431 from the previous year.

Of the total, 8,851 were men and 7,012 were women. By prefecture, Osaka has the largest number of missing people with dementia, at 1,801, followed by Saitama with 1,734, Hyogo with 1,396, Aichi with 1,341 and Tokyo with 1,284. The prefecture with the least number of people who wandered off due to dementia was Shimane with 38.

Police confirmed the safety of 15,166 missing people with dementia, which includes those who were reported to police in previous years. Of these, 99.3 percent were found within a week. Some 11,027 people were located on the same day as they were reported missing, and 4,034 people were found from the second day to the seventh day. On the other hand, 470 people were discovered dead.

The overall number of people who were reported missing last year came to 84,850, which was the same as in 2016. The overall number of missing people has been about the same in recent years; 81,111 in 2012, 83,948 in 2013, 81,193 in 2014, and 82, 035 in 2015.

However, people with dementia accounted for 18.7 percent of all missing people in 2017, up about 7 points from 2012, forming the most common answer for the reason people wandered off last year. This was also the largest ratio excluding those who went missing for "other reasons" for the first time.

The highest proportion of missing people in general was those in their 20s, at 17,052. However, those in their 70s (9,425), increased by some 20 percent, and those in their 80s and older (10,476), surged by about 60 percent, compared to the figures in 2012.

An NPA official who helped compile the statistics said the figures "reflect an increase in the number of elderly people with dementia."

(Japanese original by Toshiaki Uchihashi, City News Department)

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