The number of Japanese people who have celebrated their 100th birthday has exceeded 70,000 for the first time in the country’s history, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said on Friday, three days ahead of the state holiday Respect for the Aged Day.
The number of those who have reached the age of 100 years — more than 71,000 — includes 8,463 men and 62,700 women, accounting for 88 percent of the total. The number has increased by 1,453 over the year.
The ministry believes that "progress in medical technology and efforts to promote health" are the main reasons for longevity. The authorities promise "to support [elderly] people, so that even after reaching a very advanced age, they can live a healthy, full life."
The record has been updated annually for the past 49 years. When the study began in 1963, there were only 153 centenarians in Japan. Over the past 30 years alone, the number of 100-year-olds has grown by 23 times.