Officials discovered the body of Sogen Kato in a room in an apartment in the city's Adachi Ward and believe his family may have kept his death quiet so it could continue receiving his pension benefits, Tokyo's Mainichi Daily News reported Thursday.
Family members told officials the man shut himself in the room in 1978 after telling them he wanted to become a "living Buddha," the report said. Instead of being more than a century old, Kato was probably 79 years old when he died.
His family continued to receive pension benefits of about 18.5 million yen ($215,000) from the time he died until his death was discovered. A transportation official who visited the home every year for 17 years to deliver a free pass said she was never allowed to see Kato.
"What a sad world it is when people can overlook the death of someone who is not living alone as an elderly person but in a family," the unnamed transportation official told Mainichi.