Japan offers funeral discounts to elderly drivers who give up their licences

James Rothwell
Those who give up their licenses will be offered 15 per cent discounts at Hwinkaku Co, which has 89 funeral homes in Aichi prefecture.

Elderly drivers in Japan have been offered discounts on funeral services if they hand over their driving licences, in a bid to cut down on dangerous road-users.

The macabre incentive forms part of the Japanese government's latest attempts to get geriatric drivers off the roads, following a series of fatal accidents.

The country was particularly shocked by the recent case of an 87-year-old who killed a six-year-old boy after he lost control of his car and mowed down a line of children on their way to school.

The pensioner later claimed that he "didn't remember where he had been."

Those who give up their licenses will be offered 15 per cent discounts at Hwinkaku Co, which has 89 funeral homes in Aichi prefecture.

An elderly Japanese woman plays with a therapeutic robot seal

 

The discount is only offered to Aichi locals who can provide proof that they surrendered their licences to the police.

According to the Japan Times, drivers aged 75 or above were responsible for 13 per cent of fatal road accidents that occurred in Aicihi in 2016.

In some cases, elderly drivers confused the accelerator with the brake pedal, or vice versa.

The likelihood of an elderly driver being able to regain their licence is very low - in 2015 the return rate in Aichi was just two per cent.

It is not the first time drivers of advanced age in Aichi have been invited to give up their cars for small perks.

In November 2016, police offered a 15 per cent discount on noodles to drivers aged 75 and over, which applied to 176 branches of the restaurant Sugakiya.

Other prefectures in Japan have also tried to cut down on elderly drivers, but using less morbid perks such as cheaper taxi rides or reduced entry fees for public baths.

Japan suffers from an aging and declining population which is expected to see the number of citizens aged 65 and above increase to 40 per cent by 2055.

The surge in senior citizens once led the government to consider abandoning its tradition of bestowing a silver sake cup and a congratulatory letter from the prime minister on those who reach 100.

In the scheme's inaugural year of 1963, just 153 of the "sakazuki" cups were handed out – whereas in 2014 the government was faced with an eye-watering £1.4 million bill for 29,000 bowels.

But in a country renowned for its treatment of the elderly, officials finally agreed to a compromise in September 2016, opting to hand out silver-plated cups instead of silver sterling.

According to local media reports, some recipients pass away before they even receive the bowels.

Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, has attempted to offset the burden of an aging population with his "Abenomics package," which cuts unemployment.

And in February, a Japanese foreign ministry official told the Telegraph that it hopes to improve diplomatic ties with China - also struggling with an aging population-  by exporting its elderly care services.

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