Everyone knows that Japan, whose population is now at the oldest average age it has ever been in its history, sold more adult than baby diapers for the first time in 2012, and is "older" than any nation in the world, has a "demographic problem." What few may know, however, is that it also has a secret plan to fix said "demographic problem" - a solution that would make Hitler, Goebbels and Stalin proud. Earlier today, Taro Aso, 72 years young, and the deputy PM of the man set to unleash Abenomics on Japan (for the second time, only this time it will be different), suggested that the elderly in Japan should just "hurry up and die" because "You cannot sleep well when you think it's all paid by the government."
Remember that this is the nation that the US is set to imitate at all costs: in everything from the rising debt/GDP, to the interest as a % of revenue, to the demographic distribution of the population, to the absolute collapse in its export base, to, well, everything. And, perhaps, one day to the treatment of the elderly. Because unlike the US, Japan does not have an insolvent Social Security Fund and underfunded liabilities that amount to about 10 times its GDP. Ironically, in the perspective of benefits promised to its society, Japan is in a better place than even the US. But why worry about that now: there is an inauguration going on, and everyone is discussing what the FLOTUS is wearing.
But back to outspoken Aso. From the SCMP:
The 72-year-old Aso, who has a reputation for speaking insensitively, was addressing a meeting on social security issues on the burden imposed by prolonging patients' lives with treatment.
Describing patients with serious illnesses as "tube persons", Aso said they should be allowed to die quickly if they wanted to, Kyodo News reported.
"Heaven forbid I should be kept alive if I want to die. 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."
He later retracted some of his remarks and admitted it had been inappropriate to make such comments in public. They were his personal opinion, not government policy, he said.
Aso became something of a figure of fun during his 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, because they don't earn much money, they are not worthy of respect from a life partner.
That insight was followed by a declaration that followers of the world's religions should learn from Japan's work ethic.
"Our values in Japan regard work as important. To work is good. That is a completely different way of thinking to the Old Testament. We should share that philosophy with other nations."
Aso has a reputation for not always thinking through his public comments. He had offended doctors by saying many of them "lack common sense"; the Democratic Party of Japan for comparing it with the Nazi Party; people with Alzheimer's disease and also China, which he described as "a significant threat".
And these are the - somewhat aged to be perfectly blunt here as well - people on which the western capital markets have staked their hopes for a return to prosperity and monetary utopia? Just when does the world admit to itself it has a peak desperation problem?