Yale Professor pushes suicide for elderly in Japan

The NY Times reports:

His pronouncements could hardly sound more drastic.

In interviews and public appearances, Yusuke Narita, an assistant professor of economics at Yale, has taken on the question of how to deal with the burdens of Japan’s rapidly aging society.

“I feel like the only solution is pretty clear,” he said during one online news program in late 2021. “In the end, isn’t it mass suicide and mass ‘seppuku’ of the elderly?” Seppuku is an act of ritual disembowelment that was a code among dishonored samurai in the 19th century.

As you can imagine, his comments have caused an uproar in Japan – partially because he has actually become a bit of a hero to some young Japanese who resent that age and seniority stand in their way.

It reminds me of when I was a National staffer in the early 2000s. I was asked to do some modelling for the Caucus Economics Committee on potential changes to NZ Superannuation to show how they would impact the long-term cost. So I had a dozen slides showing the impact of means testing, inflation rather than median wage indexing, changes to rates etc etc. The final slide showed the largest decline in cost – reaching zero dollars within ten years. This slide was titled “Logan’s Run policy”.

Most got the joke, but afterwards a fairly worked upon Senior Citizens spokesperson told me in no uncertain tone to delete that slide and never use it again. She explained that she attends around 100 Grey Power events a year and doesn’t want to ever have to explain my sense of humour to them. So alas the slide was euthanised!

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