Japan to Centenarians: No More Pricey Gifts for You
Expensive congratulatory cups for centenarians may be downgraded or dumped
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2015 12:18 PM CDT
It's getting too expensive for gifts.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – This year's Respect for the Aged Day in Japan is fast approaching, but this time the country's government won't be commemorating the September holiday with its usual wares. Every year since 1963, Japan's newly inducted centenarians have received a sakazuki, a special commemorative silver sake cup (estimated value: about $65 each, per the BBC). But with so many people now reaching that milestone, the government is considering downgrading the gift to save money—or dumping the idea altogether, Kyodo reports. Last year the cups, which are meant to thank these super-seniors for their contributions to society, cost the government $2.1 million—a large figure that raises even more eyebrows once you consider some of the recipients die before they even receive their gifts, the Guardian points out.

While the Japanese enjoy one of the world's longest life spans—an average of nearly 87 years for women, 80 years for men, per Kyodo—that's a big part of the problem: There were only 153 centenarians to hand sake cups to in 1963, but that number grew to around 59,000 last year and is expected to rise even more this time around, which will make it the 45th consecutive record-breaking year for the 100-and-over set, per Asahi Shimbun. The Japanese government tried to cut costs on the sake cups a few years back by reducing the cup's diameter, but it's now considering more drastic measures, including using a cheaper material, producing an entirely different type of gift, or simply sending a congratulatory letter, per the Guardian. "We are reviewing it, but we have not made any firm decisions," a health ministry official tells AFP. (Here's a hot way to possibly add years to your own life.)