Japan Minister Taro Aso Wants Elderly to 'Hurry Up and Die'

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A senior member of Japan's new government has angered millions of voters by suggesting that the elderly should "hurry up and die" because they are draining the country's finances. 

Taro Aso is the finance minister and has a history of making offensive remarks. 

On Monday he said of the elderly: "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 comments are already stirring up controversy in Japan. Nearly a quarter of the 128 million population is over age 60, and that number is growing rapidly. 

A decision was made last year to double consumption sales tax to 10 percent over the next three years to support rising welfare costs, especially for the elderly. 

Aso, 72, has firm opinions on what care he will accept as he ages. He said he will refuse end-of-life care and has written instructions for his family members telling them to deny life-prolonging medical treatment for him. 

Making the insult even worse, Aso added that elderly patients who are no longer able to feed themselves are "tube people" and that it costs tens of millions of yen a month to treat one patient during his or her final days. 

Caring for the elderly is a challenge for Japan, as the number of households receiving welfare with a family member aged 65 or over has rose to more than 678,000. That number is about 40 percent of the total number of all households receiving welfare. 

The country is planning to reduce welfare expenditure in their next budget, which begins in April. They are releasing details about the cuts in the next few days. 

Aso's other offensive remarks include making a joke about Alzheimer's patients, telling doctors that they lack common sense, and pronouncing "penniless young men" unfit for marriage. 

A few years ago, Aso said he wanted the country to become a place where "the richest Jews would want to live" and also told U.S. diplomats that they would never be trusted in Middle East peace negotiations because they have "blue eyes and blond hair."

Of his remarks about the country's elderly, he admitted that his language was "inappropriate in a public forum" and said they were merely his own opinions for what he believes and how he wants to live his life.