Tuesday, January 22, 2013

(Opinion) Taro Aso: When honest opinions in politics are not refreshing

There has always been the feeling among most people around the world that their political representatives do not hold the most progressive opinions about their citizenry and Japan’s finance minister Taro Aso went some way to confirm that long held suspicion.  Nobody avoids putting their private views in the press than politicians, Aso broke the mould and stated that a quarter of his country’s  population “should be allowed to “hurry up and die”[1]

The Irony about his public statement stating in essence that the elderly should die and be quick about it is that  Aso, no spring chicken at the age of  72, belongs to the very same group he is encouraging to die quicker due citing that if he was to get sick  he would  ‘feel’ “increasingly bad knowing that (‘treatment’) was all being paid for by the government”[2].

Aso means exactly what he said when he stated his lack of comfort of being an expense on the government income balance sheet  citing that he doesn’t want “end-of-life care”  and made public the fact that he had “written a note instructing his family to deny him life-prolonging medical treatment”[3].

While it is clear from Aso’s statement that he would like to have some control when he faces testing sickness and impending death, this position is not likely to become legislation any time soon as his party supported a move to “double consumption (‘sales’) tax to 10% over the next three years” to deal with “rising welfare costs”[4].

This tax increase was not a move to protect the elderly by politicians out of the goodness of their hearts but a calculated realisation that the elderly is a crucial voting bloc with “almost a quarter of the 128 million population is aged over 60.. (and)(t)he proportion is forecast to rise to 40% over the next 50 years”[5].

While there is a real problem of Japan’s older population straining it welfare system, It does shoe Aso’s contempt of his fellow citizens. This hasn’t been Aso’s first day at the rodeo as far as outrageous public statements are concerned as he has attacked Japan older population in the past when he was Prime Minster citing them as “tax burdens who should take better care of their health”[6].

In sum, politicians are not the most favoured among us when it comes to popularity, especially when they confirm long held suspicions that they have little to say that would flatter their fellow citizens. However Aso, who comes from a privileged background, earns such suspicion expressing his superiority of Citizens of which he is  similar in age, most of which who have worked hard all their lives.     

[1] J, McCurry, 2013, Let elderly people ‘hurry and die’ says Japanese minister, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/22/elderly-hurry-up-die-japanese

[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid
[5] Ibid
[6] Ibid

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