An professor at Yale University has caused widespread outrage after suggesting that elderly Japanese citizens should participate in a “mass suicide” through disembowelment, in an effort to address Japan’s rapidly aging population.
Yusuke Narita, 37, who works as an assistant professor of economics at the Ivy League institution, has gained a significant following on social media after promoting this highly controversial solution through multiple interviews and publications. However, he has also garnered criticism, according to the New York Times.
Narita stated during a news program in late 2021, “I believe that the solution is quite clear.”
“In the end, isn’t it mass suicide and mass ‘seppuku’ of the elderly?” he added, referring to the practice of disembowelment utilized by dishonored Samurai in the late 19th century.
Last year, Narita answered a boy’s question about seppuku by telling a group of students about a scene from “Midsommar,” a 2019 flick in which a Swedish cult sends one of its oldest members to jump off a cliff.
“Whether that’s a good thing or not, that’s a more difficult question to answer,” he said. “So if you think that’s good, then maybe you can work hard toward creating a society like that.”
He also has discussed euthanasia, predicting that the “possibility of making it mandatory in the future” will become part of the public discourse.
The professor’s incendiary remarks touched a raw nerve in a country where kamikaze pilots were revered for dying in a blaze of glory during World War II.
Narita told the Times that his comments had been “taken out of context” — saying he was referring to efforts to push older people out of leadership positions in business and politics.
“I should have been more careful about their potential negative connotations,” he told the paper about the phrases “mass suicide” and “mass seppuku,” saying they were “an abstract metaphor.”
“After some self-reflection, I stopped using the words last year,” Narita added.
In Japan, the professor has gained a following among disaffected youths who believe their economic progress has been stymied by the elderly in power.
His Japanese Twitter bio reads: “The things you’re told you’re not allowed to say are usually true.”
Narita’s detractors pushed back at his controversial remarks.
“It’s irresponsible,” journalist Masaki Kubota said, according to the Times, adding that people “might think, ‘Oh, my grandparents are the ones who are living longer and we should just get rid of them.’”
Newsweek Japan columnist Masato Fujisaki said Narita’s supporters “believed old people should just die already and social welfare should be cut.”
Some fear that Narita’s views are gaining traction in a country where older generations have traditionally been honored.
In 2013, then-Finance Minister Taro Aso said the elderly should “hurry up and die” to spare the nation the cost of their medical care.
Last year, a dystopian movie by Japanese filmmaker Chie Hayakawa called “Plan 75” imagined salespeople offering elderly citizens an incentive to self-euthanize and no longer be a burden to society.
Alexis Dudden, a historian at the University of Connecticut who studies modern Japan, told the Times that Narita is “not focusing on helpful strategies such as better access to day care or broader inclusion of women in the work force or broader inclusion of immigrants.”
He added: “Things that might actually invigorate Japanese society.”
Some surveys in Japan have suggested that a majority of the population supports legalizing voluntary euthanasia, according to the newspaper.
But Fumika Yamamoto, a professor of philosophy at Tokyo City University, noted that every country that has legalized it only “allows it if the person wants it themselves.”
Narita sent an email to the Times, in which he stated that “euthanasia (whether voluntary or involuntary) is a complicated and nuanced issue, and I am not advocating for its implementation.” He went on to say, “I expect it to be a topic of wider discussion in the future.”
The Post attempted to contact Tony Smith, the Chair of the Yale Economics Department, and a representative from the university for a statement.
perhaps the professor should lead by example.
My thoughts exactly!
Narita” “… the phrases “mass suicide” and “mass seppuku,” were “an abstract metaphor.” No – this so-called professor meant exactly what he said.
He’s just backtracking because of negative comments.
I agree with the above comment – maybe he should be the first to disembowel himself. So we understand what he means. – no abstracts.
Japan is already a decaying society only likely to last 150 more years. Their population is already declining. Their fertility rate is among the lowest among the developed nations. Deaths are already exceeding births, and historically they did not accept immigrants, i.e. any other ethnics, that might dilute their culture.
I believe they may now be allowing a small number of foreign worker to come in, but their main goal is to supplant ordinary workers with robots, or robotic devises. I believe their national debt is over two times their GDP, but it is not the same as our problem, because they only borrow from domestic sources. by promoting faster unnatural deaths among the elderly, Professor Narita’s solution would be only a bandaid on a massive wound.
He should be thinking about how to incentivize Japanese women of child bearing age to have more children. What government programs might revoke the reluctance of families to have more children. They need to look at Israel, who has one of the highest birthrates in the western world. Those men and women know they must reproduce in greater numbers to have Jewish people continue to be the major majority in their country in the future.
The idea that the elderly should give up their lives to ensure an easier life for the young is ridiculous. These are the same people that believe in abortion as a way to control the direction of their lives. Maybe grandma and grandpa should have utilized abortion. If given a chance, I’m sure that we’d reach the point at which “others” would decide who lives and who doesn’t. Where would the wealthy fall in? Just gotta wonder.
when he shows how first