Shows up exactly seven and a half years after the tragic earthquake and tsunami in a town half-way across the country.

More than 2,500 people who were reported missing by residents of the areas affected by Japan’s 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami are still unaccounted for. Morbid as it may be, most of their families have no doubt given up hope of any sort of reunion, and the only possible comfort to come is a sense of closure should their relatives’ remains be found.

But on Tuesday, exactly seven years and six months since the Tohoku earthquake, one of those missing people was found, alive and well. Actually, the 48-year-old man (whose name has not been released) is apparently in fine physical health, but his finances aren’t so robust, as in mid-August he submitted a welfare application in Shiga Prefecture.

Those of you with a grasp of Japanese geography might be scratching your heads right now, though, since Shiga Prefecture is located in the center of Japan’s main island of Honshu, just east of Kyoto, and is nowhere near the northeastern Tohoku region.

▼ Left: Shiga Prefecture
Right: Tohoku’s Miyagi Prefecture, one of the areas most damaged in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami

As part of the welfare application process, the man was asked to submit a copy of his juminhyou, a legal document certifying a person’s home address. Since the man wasn’t able to do so, the official handling his application had to contact the last municipality he had registered an address with, which was the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture.

However, it turned out that Ishinomaki no longer had a juminhyou for the man either. While he’d previously had an official address within the city, he’d become estranged from his family, and when a census investigation in 2007 showed he was no longer living in their Ishinomaki home, the city discontinued his juminhyou. Following that, the man moved from prefecture to prefecture, and how much communication he had with his family during that time is unclear, as is whether or not he was actually in Tohoku at the time of the earthquake. Apparently, though, his family was concerned enough that two months after the quake, in May of 2011, they reported him as missing due to the earthquake, ostensibly having been unable to contact him after the disaster.

Once officials in Shiga and Miyagi realized who the man applying for welfare benefits was, they notified his family, who have confirmed the man’s identity. Whether the man and his family will be reunited, and whether such a reunion will be marked with tearful relief or frustrated exasperation, is yet to be seen.

Sources: Kahoku Shinpo via Matome Matome, Kyodo via Livedoor News via Jin
Top image: Wikipedia/BotMultichillT
Insert image: Wikipedia/TAKASUGI Shinji (1, 2) (edited by SoraNews24)