The number of Japanese living beyond 100 has doubled in the past six years to exceed 40,000 this year, a record, with women dominating the centenarian population.
The Health and Welfare Ministry said today Japan will have 40,399 people aged 100 years or older this month, surpassing the previous record of 36,276 last year. More than 86% of them were women.
The ministry gave the information in an annual report ahead of a September 21 national holiday honouring the elderly.
The number of centenarians has continuously risen for nearly 50 years, at an accelerating pace.
Though centenarians are more active than before, the rapidly greying population has fuelled concerns about Japan’s overburdened public pension and medical care system.
By 2050, Japan’s centenarian population is expected to reach nearly one million, according to the UN projections.
“The data clearly show that Japan is ageing rapidly and steadily, mainly because of progress in medical care and the high living standard since the end of the Second World War,” ministry official Hiroyuki Ishii said.
Each new centenarian will receive a letter from the prime minister and a silver cup.
Japan has one of the world’s longest life expectancies – 86 years for women and 79 years for men.