Japan's new finance minister has claimed that the elderly should 'hurry up and die' to help ease the cost to the taxpayer of caring for them, it has emerged.
Taro Aso made the controversial statement as he discussed how to deal with the country's emerging demographic crisis as its population continues to shrink while life expectancy soars. Aso, who said he would hate to be a burden on the state, told the national council on social security reforms: '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. 'The problem won't be solved unless you let them hurry up and die.'
The statement is a far cry from the usual indoctrinated Japanese respect shown for their elders. It comes after figures released earlier this month showed the country saw its largest population drop in more than a century last year and is now aging faster than any other in the world.
More than 20 per cent of its 128 million population is already over 65 and set to double to more than 40 per cent within the next 50 years while birthrates continues to plummet.
The country faces a bleak future where there will be more dependent children and elderly than those in the age-range where they can work and contribute.
Rising welfare costs have already caused the government to double consumption tax - similar to VAT - to 10 per cent over the next three years.
Aso - who is also deputy Prime Minister - described those dependent on feeding tubes as 'tube people' and said it cost 'tens of millions of yen' a month to care for them.
The 72-year-old claimed he would refuse end-of-life care and that he had given his family instructions not to give him life-prolonging care. He said: 'I don't need that kind of care. I will die quickly.' His comments come ahead of expected welfare cuts due to be announced in the next budget in the next few days and enforced from April.
Aso later apologised for his 'inappropriate' remarks, adding: 'I said what I personally believe, not what the end-of-life medical care system should be. It is important that you be able spend the final days of your life peacefully.'
Source: DAILY MAIL UK