- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
Given that seniors now account for more than a quarter of the Japanese electorate, this might not have been the shrewdest political move:
Taro Aso, the finance minister, said on Monday that the elderly should be allowed to "hurry up and die" to relieve pressure on the state to pay for their medical care.
"Heaven forbid if you are forced to live on when you want to die. I would wake up feeling increasingly bad knowing that [treatment] was all being paid for by the government," he said during a meeting of the national council on social security reforms. "The problem won’t be solved unless you let them hurry up and die."
The comments on the Guardian‘s story are full of Logan’s Run and Soylent Green jokes, but in partial defense of Aso (who is no spring chicken himself at 72), there are valid questions to be raised in an era of advanced medicine and aging populations over how long its practical, or even ethical, to patients alive in their final months of life. On the other hand, referring to them as "tube people" as Aso did later in his remarks, is probably not the best way to start that conversation.
The politician who once vowed to make Japan so successful that even "the richest Jews would want to live" there, isn’t exactly known for tact, though he has apologized for his latest remarks.