Yale professor says Japan's old people should kill themselves in mass suicide
Yusuke Narita's controversial opinions have made him popular with Japan's youth, leading to his large social media following.
A Yale professor suggested a highly controversial solution for how to deal with Japan's rapidly aging population.
Yusuke Narita, an assistant professor of economics at Yale University, suggested that mass suicide could be the solution to Japan's aging population in several interviews and public appearances. Narita has gained celebrity status among the country's youth, even appearing in an advertisement for energy drinks, The New York Times reported.
Last month, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the country was on the verge of a crisis. Japan has the highest percentage of elderly citizens of any country in the world, and the rate of the population aged over 65 has steadily increased since the 1950s.
In an interview with an online Japanese news program in December 2021, Narita said a "pretty clear solution" would be the introduction of mass suicide or mass "seppuku" of the elderly.
Seppuku refers to the ritual suicide of samurai, which historically involved self-disembowelment.
The controversial positions concern some Japanese lawmakers, with critics stating that it could lead to the kind of public feeling that resulted in a 1948 eugenics law, The Times reported.
The Eugenic Protection Law allowed for voluntary and involuntary sterilizations of people with hereditary diseases, mental illnesses, and intellectual disabilities.
Narita says his comments were "taken out of context"
Dr. Narita, 37, said that his statements had been “taken out of context,” and that he was mainly addressing a growing effort to push the most senior people out of leadership positions in business and politics — to make room for younger generations.
He told the Times that using the terms "mass suicide" and "mass seppuku" was intended only as "abstract metaphors," adding that he has ceased using those phrases.
Still, with his extreme comments on euthanasia, he has gained thousands of followers on social media in Japan among resentful youth who believe their economic progress has been held back by the aging society.
Narita has more than 550,000 followers on Twitter and regularly appears on online Japanese shows and magazine covers, The Times said.
Meanwhile, the professor remains virtually unknown in other countries.