Over 19,000 people with dementia reported missing in Japan in 2023

Police in Japan say more than 19,000 people with dementia or suspected dementia were reported missing, at least temporarily, last year. More than 500 were found dead.

National Police Agency figures show reports were received nationwide for 19,039 such people who went missing in 2023, up 330 from the previous year.

The figure was the largest since the agency began compiling the data in 2012.

It says 18,175 people, or 95 percent of the total, were found alive during the year. But 502 were confirmed dead, and 250 others were still unaccounted for at the end of the year.

By prefecture, Hyogo topped the list with 2,094 people. Osaka followed with 2,016 and Saitama had 1,912.

Police are stepping up cooperation with local governments and communities to tackle the issue as the number of the missing has increased by nearly 80 percent over the past decade.

In some cases, families and municipalities use GPS devices attached to the clothes or shoes of people with dementia to locate them.

Police figures show that 71 missing people were found with the help of GPS last year. In one case, a person who went missing in Saitama Prefecture was found in a city some 300 kilometers away.

The National Police Agency says it will use GPS, drones and other technologies to quickly locate missing people in an effort to prevent accidents.