Being very old in Japan comes with perks -- namely, a commemorative silver sake cup, given to each person who reaches 100.
When the practice started in 1963, the Asian nation sent out 153 of the commemorative saucer-like cups as a token of recognition that being very old was something unique and truly special. But now Japan has a lot of very old people; so many, in fact, that the government has plans to nix the commemorative silver gifts in lieu of a cheaper option, Kyodo News reports.
Let's do the math, shall we? Each one of the silver dishes costs about $64 U.S. and gets handed out during September's Respect for the Aged Day, along with a recognition of centenarians' societal contributions. In 2014, 29,357 people received the dishes. The program's cost: roughly $2.1 million U.S.
All of that is concerning for government officials, who estimate that 39,000 people will enter their 100s in 2018. So they're thinking of other options, such as a cheaper material for the cup, a different gift or just a letter, Kyodo reports.
Japan has the highest average life expectancy in the world, according to the World Health Organization. The average life expectancy for Japanese men is 80 years, and for women, it is nearly 87 years, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Last year, Japan had a record 32.9 million people ages 65 or older. The graying population has been one factor contributing to Japan's record national debt, as rising social security costs have taken a toll on government coffers.
So, sorry, centenarians of Japan. You're still special, even if you don't get a silver sake cup to prove it.