Since 1963, whenever one of its citizens turned 100 years-old, Japan would give its senior citizen a commemorative silver cup.
Why did that occur? Well, one reason is that until 1963, Japan hadn't really kept record of such things.
The U.S. has the greatest number of centenarians (100-year-olds+) at 53,364 according to a 2010 census, but Japan has the second-highest number, with 51,376 per September of 2012.
Basically, Japan has 42.76 centenarians per 100,000 people, while the U.S. has 17.3… meaning the U.S. has a larger overall population to draw from. Still… nice going U.S.
Canada has a higher number 22.31 centenarians per 100,000 people, but only 7,569 as of 2011.
So… back in 1963 there were only 153 centenarians in Japan… so providing a special commemorative silver cup and certificate wasn't that big a deal for the national government.
But, as of 1998, there were 10,000 centenarians, then 20,000 in 20003, and 40,000 in 2009 - or so everyone feared.
Basically, by 2008, out of every 3,522 people ONE might live to reach 100 years of age.
Still… that heady explosion of centenarians didn't continue, as 2014 only saw 29,357 centenarians.
But that's a lot!
How much does that commemorative silver cup cost the federal Japanese government anyways?
Approximately ¥8,000 or US$64.81
I know, I know, you're thinking so what's the big deal… it's not that much money to see grandma's glaucoma-ed eyes light up one more time…
But think about it… that's ¥8,000 x ~29,357 centenarians = ¥234,856,000 ($1,902,596.67), which is a lot of money coming out of the Japanese budget - money that, I hate to say, could be better spent on more needful social services.
Japan is apparently the heaviest-indebted country in the world, and it needs to stop the wasteful spending.
It pains me to call doing something nice for the elderly 'wasteful', but it is.
WTF do the Japanese centenarians need with a 8,000 cup? Maybe get them a lotto ticket or send them a single Viagra or Cialis pill - you know, one last good hurrah...
I do think their heirs might be miffed at not getting that cup divided 3,000 ways amongst all the great-great-great grandkids, but really who cares?
I am sure that all of the Japanese centenarians are not so shallow so as to cry of being deprived a silver sake cup... I'm sure there are far more interesting things to complain about being deprived of.
For the foreseeable future, Japan's centenarians will all have lived through the needful days of WWII and its after effects, so doing without a commemorative silver cup won't be a huge burden.
As for all of the centenarians turning 100 in 2015, they might be the last ones to receive a silver cup. Japan will still give something - or so it is thought.
I think the Japanese should still send out the certificate, but ixnay on the silver up-nay… or however pig-Latin goes. Just give a certificate.
By the way, just how much silver is in a 'silver cup' that costs $65? There are manufacturing costs to include, too… and what about postage? And ink to print the certificate on a printer could be expensive. Maybe they should only print in black ink to avoid the more expensive color mixing.
This last cup-giving will be held on the third Monday of September, for 2015 it's September 21 - for Respect for the Aged Day (敬老の日 Keirō no Hi).
By the way... I know it's not the same, but for one's 100th anniversary (not birthday), a 10K diamond is traditional... okay, I don't know how many couple have reached 100 years together, but that's what a website said... but the point is, diamonds were considered a fitting momento.
Silver seems a little cheap, tarnishing the whole effort.
Andrew "No one in MY family has ever hit 100 years of age" Joseph