- A Yale professor said in an interview that mass suicide could solve the problem of Japan’s aging population.
- His controversial views have made him popular with Japanese youth, according to The New York Times.
- Yusuke Narita now has a large following on social media and even appeared in an energy drink commercial.
A Yale professor who suggested mass suicide could be the solution to Japan’s aging population has gained celebrity status among the country’s young people, even appearing in an energy drink ad, The New York Times reported.
Yusuke Narita, an assistant professor of economics at Yale University, has argued for the controversial solution to Japan’s aging population in several public appearances and interviews, The Times reported.
Japan has the highest proportion of elderly citizens of any country in the world, and the percentage of the population aged over 65 has steadily increased since the 1950s.
Last month, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the country was on the verge of crisis.
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 samurai ritual suicide, which historically involved self-disembowelment.
Pressed by a teenager on his mass seppuku theory last year, Narita references a scene from the 2019 horror film “Midsommar” in which an elderly person is sent to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff, according to The Times.
“Whether that’s a good thing or not is a harder question to answer,” Narita said, according to the newspaper. “So if you think that’s good, then maybe you can work hard to build a company like that.”
He also talked about euthanasia, a politically controversial debate in Japansaying that making assisted suicide mandatory in the future “will be up for discussion”, the Times reported.
Speaking of euthanasia, Narita sometimes mentioned her mother, who had an aneurysm when she was 19, describing how caring for her costs her 100,000 yen ($755) a month, according to the newspaper.
The controversial positions have worried some Japanese policymakers, with critics fearing it could lead to the kind of public sentiment that resulted in a 1948 eugenics law, The Times reported.
The Eugenic Protection Act authorized voluntary and involuntary sterilizations of people with hereditary diseases, mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities.
Despite its detractors, Narita has gained a large following in Japan among young people who feel that older generations are holding back their economic progress.
He has more than 550,000 Twitter followers, appears regularly on Japanese online shows, has appeared on magazine covers and appeared in an energy drink commercial, the Times said.
Speaking to The Times, Narita said his comments were largely taken out of context and focused on the dominance of “tycoons” in Japan.
He also told the newspaper that the use of the terms “mass suicide” and “mass seppuku” were only intended for “abstract metaphors”, adding that he had since stopped using those expressions.
Narita did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.