Japanese Minister Wants Old People to “Hurry Up and Die”

Japan's 72-year-old finance minister says "tube people" who can't feed themselves strain the state's social services.

  • Share
  • Read Later
KIM KYUNG-HOON / REUTERS

Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso speaks at a news conference in Tokyo December 27, 2012.

Was the 72-year-old Japanese finance minister talking about himself when he said the nation’s elderly population they were a drain on the government’s resources? Kind of.

Taro Aso, who also serves as the deputy prime minister, had been in office little more than a month when he insulted Japan’s elderly on Monday, calling those who can no longer feed themselves “tube people,” and claiming that treatment for just one patient close to death can cost the government “tens of millions of yen” a month. London’s The Guardian reports that Aso, one of the wealthiest politicians in Japan, would refuse any treatment meant to prolong his life.

(PHOTOSJapan, One Year Later: Photographer James Nachtwey Returns)

“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.”

In a country where the elderly are shown the highest deference and respect, Aso’s comments go particularly against the grain. People over 60 make up more than a quarter of Japan’s population, making it especially surprising that a senior politician would speak out so bluntly.

Japan’s aging population does cost the country’s strained social services, and the number of elderly people is only expected to increase. In just 20 years, projections suggest that seniors will outnumber children 15 and younger by nearly 4 to 1. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Japan’s at-birth life expectancy is 83, one of the highest in the world. That imbalance means the ever-shrinking segment of people of working age will be burdened with the cost of paying to take care of their grandparents and great-grandparents.

Last year, 20-year-old Naoki Kakuta told the Washington Post he’s concerned for the country’s future.

“To me,” the college student said, “it sounds more and more like we’re passing this on to the younger people…I feel especially bad for the generation after mine. And that certainly doesn’t motivate me to have more children.”

MOREJapan’s Not-Quite-So-Nationalist Leader

15 comments
EdwinaLee
EdwinaLee

Taro Aso and DarwinAkbar's answers are honest. Honesty is the beginning of solving any problem. 

Dishonesty is merely evading a problem.

End of life care can be exceedingly expensive, and for how much benefit?

If it cannot be afforded, there is a choice to make. Who should make the choice? 

I would suggest the person dying should have a choice to die comfortably and at a time of his/her choosing.

Hypoxia is the most comfortable way to die. 

(If a pig walks into a tent filled only with nitrogen, it would just suddenly loose consciousness.

When oxygen supply is resumed immediately, it immediately gets up without ever knowing it had fainted.)



shirasekazuya
shirasekazuya

NONONONONONO

This is mistakenly translated, I don't know if this is done like this for adding a little spice on purpose or not though.

I am Japanese he said "If I lived with the tube, I don't want to live as bothering my family."

Don't misunderstand him! Please!

DaveSeavy
DaveSeavy

Just remember, every one of us is going to be that "old person" eventually.  The young want the old to get out of the way.  However, it is the oldies who built the paths for the youngsters to travel on.

AndrewBanks
AndrewBanks

Someones getting a lump of coal in his stocking next Christmas.

DarwinAkbar
DarwinAkbar

People are living longer than ever before, but they are NOT economically productive longer than ever before. Something has got to give! Medicine has to switch focus from simply keeping people alive, to ensuring people live comfortable and productive lives. The fundamental fact is that people are dependent from birth until they reach working age, and become dependent again from retirement until death. Averaged over the whole population, a person in their working life must do the equivalent work to keep themselves alive for the whole duration from birth till death. We are quickly reaching a point where the dependency-to-working years ratio is going to be over 100%, and that gets tough.

IreneOgrizek
IreneOgrizek

I wrote an article about the experiences my elderly mother had in Canada.  I think a lot of elderly people, the world over, have a right to be frightened and deeply concerned about rampant ageism. I know that my mother's experience was very distressing and I strongly suspect ageism as being the culprit. I'm not sure about leaving links here, but here is the link to an article I wrote about our family's experience.  http://ireneogrizek.ca/2012/12/28/5762-the-right-to-choose-life-or-death/

The elderly deserve our respect, not condemnation simply because they are old. 

prastagus
prastagus

which means he's encourange old people that use government's feeding tube for health should commit suicide because they are bothering their family.

IreneOgrizek
IreneOgrizek

@DarwinAkbar If the elderly are paying taxes -- and all that I know do -- isn't that contributing? My mother is in a nursing home, which her private insurer pays for. Her personal income taxes are higher than mine and I am still out in the working world.  The contributions to society made by the elderly cannot only be measured in terms of their "productivity." If the elderly went on a tax strike -- if they all refused to pay their taxes -- then THAT would be tough. Ask an economist. 

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

@IreneOgrizek 

If you have 3 geezers for every worker at some point you tip the balance .. It is a valid question if the elderly should be supported on the dime of the young... You are left robbing your grandchildren into poverty... of course elderly spending their own money is fine.... spend my money so that ill rot in the street when im older? - Sorry but drastic decisions must be made.

At some point there will be either a blood-bath or tough decisions that had to have been made.

Tamon
Tamon

@IreneOgrizek @DarwinAkbar If the elderly had paid sufficient taxes instead of letting their governments run up constant deficits, we wouldn't be in such a mess. Now WE and our children have to clean it up.

Time to pay the piper, grandma.

IreneOgrizek
IreneOgrizek

@Hadrewsky @IreneOgrizek My mother paid into the healthcare system for 55 years.  She had good health and so she hardly used it. Who's being robbed here?

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

@IreneOgrizek @Hadrewsky 

That's a valid point... I suppose it might come down to paying out what you put in regarding time.... 50 years+ is a long time.