Professor says the 'only solution' to Japan's population problem is suicide

Professor says the 'only solution'  to Japan's population problem is suicide
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Dr. Yusuke Narita, an assistant professor of economics at Yale University, has sparked controversy after suggesting the best way for Japan to deal with its growing aging population is death by suicide.

The alarming suggestion was made by Dr. Narita, 37, in late 2021 when he spoke to a Japanese TV program about Japan’s problem with older men continuing to have positions of power.

“I feel like the only solution is pretty clear,” Dr. Narita said. “In the end, isn’t it mass suicide and mass ‘seppuku’ of the elderly?”

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Seppuku is an ancient Japanese suicide ritual by disembowelment typically associated with samurai.

Dr. Narita elaborated on his statement when speaking with students last year by using a graphic scene from the 2019 horror movie Midsommar as an example.

Obviously, Dr. Narita’s comments have led to angry and shocked reactions from people who believe his suggestion is cruel, insensitive, ableist, and ageist.

But the professor insists his comments have been taken out of context.

In emails to New York Times, Dr. Narita says he is “primarily concerned with the phenomenon in Japan, where the same tycoons continue to dominate the worlds of political, traditional industries, and media/entertainment/journalism for many years.”

Dr. Narita said he used the phrases "mass suicide" and "mass seppuku" as "an abstract metaphor."

He told The Times that he “should have been more careful” about the negative connotations his words had and said, “after some self-reflection, I stopped using the words last year.”

Japan is currently facing a problem with older men continuing to be in positions of power which is making it difficult for younger generations to take over and implement change.

And while Dr. Nartia’s comments may have been an exaggeration to get people’s attention toward the problem, they also brush off death by suicide as a major issue.

Death by suicide is a top social issue in Japan as the country has one of the highest suicide rates, particularly among G7 countries.

Academics and people online criticised Dr. Narita's suggestions saying it was the wrong approach to raising awareness for Japan's population issue.

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