Passport

Japanese finance minister: Old people should ‘hurry up and die’

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 ...

614870_taroaso_02.jpg

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. 

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. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

Tag: Japan

More from Foreign Policy

The Taliban delegation leaves the hotel after meeting with representatives of Russia, China, the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Qatar in Moscow on March 19.

China and the Taliban Begin Their Romance

Beijing has its eyes set on using Afghanistan as a strategic corridor once U.S. troops are out of the way.

An Afghan security member pours gasoline over a pile of seized drugs and alcoholic drinks

The Taliban Are Breaking Bad

Meth is even more profitable than heroin—and is turbocharging the insurgency.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addresses the U.N. Security Council from her office in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sept. 4, 2020.

Belarus’s Unlikely New Leader

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya didn’t set out to challenge a brutal dictatorship.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid

What the Taliban Takeover Means for India

Kabul’s swift collapse leaves New Delhi with significant security concerns.