Japanese government minister tells elderly to "hurry up and die"

‘Respect your elders’ is a common adage, and one which many cultures around the world adhere to; honoring older people for their knowledge, wisdom and experience.

But in Japan, a country known for its honor of the elderly, a senior government minister is being criticized for recently telling seniors to “hurry up and die.”

As reported in the Globe and Mail newspaper, Taro Aso, Japan’s newly-appointed minister of finance, expressed his opinion at a recent meeting on the topic of social security, where he said he was frustrated that - according to his perception - many Japanese seniors are content to retire off government funds.

“I would wake up feeling increasingly bad knowing that[my retirement] was all being paid for by the government,” the 72 year-old wealthy official was quoted by the newspaper as saying at the meeting.

In Japan, Aso’s comments are likely to offend millions of people in the country’s assisted living communities.

Japan has one of the world’s lowest fertility rates, with only an average of 1.39 children per woman, and the shortage of children has created a demographic imbalance with a disproportionately large number of seniors in the country.

And although the country’s population has experienced a slight decline since 2010, the proportion of seniors has jumped to nearly one-fourth of the overall population.