Number of Japanese at least 100 years old rises even as worries persist about care of elders

TOKYO (AP) — Japan says the number of its citizens who are at least 100 years old rose by 4,050 over the last year to 44,449.

A recent Justice Ministry survey revealed hundreds of thousands of centenarians who could not be accounted for were still listed in family registry records. Most were presumed to have died. The survey, however, raised concerns about Japan's ability to care for its elderly.

The new count of centenarians released Tuesday comes from the Health Ministry, whose figures are considered to be more reliable than the family registry records.

Japan, which has long prided itself on its citizens' long life spans, is one of the world's most rapidly aging countries. Japanese who are 65 and older hit a record 22.7 percent of the population last year.