Japan can't afford gifts for citizens turning 100

japan 100
Japan's population is aging rapidly. More than 29,000 people turned 100 last year.

Japan can no longer afford to lavish gifts on its growing population of centenarians.

Every year since 1963, citizens turning 100 have received a commemorative silver cup. When the tradition began, Japan had 153 centenarians.

Fast forward five decades and that number has exploded -- 29,357 turned 100 in 2014 alone. Japan has the oldest population in the world -- more than a quarter of people are over 65.

Each silver cup costs 8,000 yen ($65), adding a whopping 260 million yen ($2.1 million) to the state budget, said Akira Yanase, an official at Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The government is now considering less expensive options.

Japan is the most heavily indebted country in the world, and with the economy still sputtering out of a recession, it needs to find ways of saving money.

Japanese turning 100 this year need not worry -- the government still plans to give them silver cups next month as usual.

But those hitting the big milestone next year are almost certain to receive a cheaper alternative.

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