The Deputy Prime Minister of Japan has been reported as saying older Japanese who are dependent on life-support should “hurry up and die” so they stop draining the economy of funds. Mr. Taro Aso made this statement at a social security reform meeting. Referring to those unable to feed themselves as ‘tube people’, he said that it was costing the Japanese Government tens of millions of yen to keep them alive. Mr. Aso went on to say that older people who are near the end of their life ‘should feel guilty about draining the Government’s health budget and refuse medical treatment’.
Mr. Aso later said that his language had been ‘inappropriate’.
To put his remarks in context, it is worth noting that Japan is the most rapidly ageing nation in an ageing world, with nearly 25 per cent of the 128 million population aged over 60.
Read the full awful details in The Guardian
Mr. Aso is well named, if you’ll pardon my language.
Here we have a 72-year old politician referring to those who are unable to feed themselves as ‘tube people’. Would he call children sick with cancer ‘baldies’? Or teenagers with prosthetic limbs ‘plastic people’?
I doubt it.
And what is old? Obviously not 72.
His remarks beggar belief on every level. Whether it is the reference to ‘tube’ people, the sentiment that the old should hurry up and die or the notion that they should feel guilty about draining the government’s health budget.
This attitude is not just appalling – it goes against every humanitarian principle ever aired.
Apart from the repugnance of his statements, his remarks highlight two problems long associated with ageism.
Firstly, the sentiment that old people who access public health are taking something from others.
And secondly that older people have nothing left to offer.
Both notions are abhorrent and reveal an underlying prejudice against older people.
Mr. Aso has been widely attacked for his appalling statements. So maybe the upside of this horrible attack of the aged in Japan will be renewed focus on ageism and a counter attack in support of the rights of older people.
What do you think?
Are Mr. Aso’s remarks as bad as Kaye thinks? Or is she being a little harsh?