Tuesday, 22 January 2013
'Old people should hurry up and die', says Japan deputy leader
Taro Aso, Japan's deputy prime minister, has been forced to pedal back from a suggestion that old people should "hurry up and die" to save the state the cost of providing them with medical care.
Mr Aso, who has a reputation for speaking indelicately, was commenting at a meeting of the National Council on Social Security Reforms on Monday on the heavy burden imposed on the nation's finances by prolonging patients' lives with treatment.
Describing patients with serious illnesses as "tube persons," Mr Aso, who is 72, said they should be "allowed to die quickly" if they want to, Kyodo News reported.
"Heaven forbid I should be kept alive if I want to die," he said. "You cannot sleep well when you think it's all paid by the government. This won't be solved unless you let them hurry up and die."
Mr Aso later issued a statement retracting some of his remarks and admitting it had been "inappropriate" to make such comments in public.
Mr Aso became renown for his asides during a brief stint as prime minister in 2009, during which he told a group of university students that young people should not get married because they are too poor and are therefore not worthy of respect from a life partner.
That insight was followed by the declaration that followers of the world's religions should learn from Japan's work ethic.
"To work is good. That is a completely different way of thinking to the Old Testament," Mr Aso said in January 2009. "We should share that philosophy with many other nations."
Three months previously, he offended doctors by saying many of their number "lack common sense." The same day, he upset parents at a kindergarten by informing them that parents are often the ones that need to be disciplined, not their children.
Mr Aso also managed to offend the Democratic Party of Japan by comparing it with the Nazi Party, people with Alzheimer's disease and China, which he described as "a significant threat."