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Bizarre: Japanese city offers discount funerals to elderly residents who give up driving

A driver in Tokyo on July 11, 2013. (TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

A city in Japan is offering a controversial incentive to convince its senior citizens still driving motor vehicles to give up driving. The program is part of the city's effort to curb motor-vehicle crashes.

UPI reports the Ichinomiya Police Department has struck an agreement with the Heiankaku funeral home to provide elderly residents of the city with a 15 percent discount on their future funeral services if they agree to give up their driver’s license. Ichinomiya is a city of 378,000 located near Nagoya.

According to a report by CNN, 13 percent of fatal traffic accidents in the Aichi region, where Ichinomiya is located, involved drivers aged 75 or older.

Shigenori Ariga, manager at the Heiankaku funeral home, which has an extensive network consisting of 89 locations in Aichi, says he’s offering the discount to help slow the growing number of traffic fatalities involving elderly residents in the area.

“We have lots of tragic funerals relating to traffic accidents and there is an increasing trend [of] elderly driving,” Ariga told CNN. “So, we hope this campaign will help the elderly and [their] families to think that they can return their driver’s licenses.”

In November 2016, Aichi launched a similar program to incentivize its senior citizens to give up driving. Drivers 75 years old or older were offered significant discounts on ramen noodles at the Sugakiya restaurant chain, which has more than 170 locations in the area, for giving up their driver’s license.

Funerals in Japan are more expensive than in many other parts of Asia. The Financial Times reports the average cost of a Japanese funeral is $21,000.

Japan’s life expectancy is one of the highest in the world and its population is rapidly aging, which means an increasingly larger proportion of drivers on Japanese roadways will be elderly in the coming decades. Japan’s population is projected to fall from 127 million to 87 million by 2060, when about 40 percent of the total population is expected to be 65 years old or older.

[graphiq id="hDJs4pjsEyp" title="Population of Japan" width="600" height="654" url="https://w.graphiq.com/w/hDJs4pjsEyp"]

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