Yale professor under fire for saying Japan should consider mandatory mass suicide for elderly

A Yale professor of economics has suggested that the way to deal with Japan’s aging population may be mass suicide and mass “seppuku” — a form of ritual suicide that originated with ancient dishonored samurai and involves disembowelment.

Yusuke Narita, an assistant professor at Yale with a large social media following in Japan, said in a 2021 interview, “I feel like the only solution [to the aging population] is pretty clear. In the end, isn’t it mass suicide and mass ‘seppuku’ of the elderly?”

In a separate interview, he said that if someone doesn’t want to end their life “[the] possibility of making [euthanasia] mandatory in the future will come up in discussion.”

In addition, during a class last year, he was asked to further explain his views. In response, according to reports, he showed a clip from the 2019 fill Midsommar, in which a cult forces an older member to jump off a cliff.

“Whether that’s a good thing or not, that’s a more difficult question to answer,” Narita said. “So if you think that’s good, then maybe you can work hard toward creating a society like that.”

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Narita told The New York Times this week that his statements were “taken out of context.” He claimed he was addressing the effort to push older workers out of leadership positions in business and politics.

Japan has a plunging birth rate and its population has shrunk by 500,000 people, putting the nation in a “demographic squeeze,” according to the NYT. The country also has the highest public debt in the developed world and the government is unsure how to handle its pension obligations. For Narita, the solution seems to be to kill people through potentially forced suicide.

Certain nations already allow euthanasia for people who do not have terminal illnesses.

In 2022, a Colombian man accessed euthanasia with cameras rolling because of a lung condition that was not considered terminal. Canada is preparing to approve euthanasia for individuals with mental health concerns while facing criticism for offering assisted dying to a veteran who wanted nothing more than help making her home accessible. Canadian doctors have expressed that they are being pressured to promote euthanasia to patients to save the government money. And in the Netherlands, an elderly woman was already forcibly euthanized when the doctor ordered her family to hold her down. The doctor was cleared of all wrongdoing in her death.

According to the Daily Mail, Narita spreads his pro-death message on social media as well as in comedy shows and energy drink ads, and on TikTok.

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