The Japanese deputy prime minister Taro Aso kicked up a storm of controversy Monday with his comments on the financial burden the elderly place on society.
The 72-year old finance minister said elderly should be allowed to "hurry up and die" at a meeting of the National Council on Social Security reforms, hoping to ease the financial strain caused by an aging population where fertility rates are low and the economy is struggling.
Heaven forbid if you are forced to live on when you want to die," Aso said. "You cannot sleep well when you think it's all being paid for by the government."
"This won't be solved unless you let them hurry up and die."
According to ABC News, Aso said later he intended the comments to refer to his own wishes, not the way he hoped all Japanese elderly will be treated.
"Even if (doctors) said they could keep me alive, it would be unbearable," he said. "I would feel guilty, knowing that (treatment) was being paid for by the government."
Nearly a quarter of the Japanese population are seniors, and in the next 50 year, more than 40 percent of the population is expected to be over the age of 65.
Aso is no stranger to controversy: the former prime minister once said he wanted to make Japan the kind of country where "the richest Jews would want to live," and compared the opposition to the Nazis.