Old People Should Hurry Up and Die - says the New Japanese Finance Minister

by fulltimestudent 52 Replies latest social current

  • fulltimestudent

    The newish Japanese Government is conservative in bent, and its finance minister recently raised eyebrows with the above statement. Japan, as you may know, is a rapidly aging society as the long falling birthrate bites into the demographics.

    Here's how the English Guardian reports this tale:

    Let elderly people 'hurry up and die', says Japanese minister

    Taro Aso says he would refuse end-of-life care and would 'feel bad' knowing treatment was paid for by government

    Taro Aso

    Taro Aso referred to elderly patients who are no longer able to feed themselves as 'tube people'. Photograph: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images

    Japan's new government is barely a month old, and already one of its most senior members has insulted tens of millions of voters by suggesting that the elderly are an unnecessary drain on the country's finances.

    Taro Aso, the finance minister, said on Monday that the elderly should be allowed to "hurry up and die" to relieve pressure on the state to pay for their medical care.

    "Heaven forbid if you are forced to live on when you want to die. I would wake up feeling increasingly bad knowing that [treatment] was all being paid for by the government," he said during a meeting of the national council on social security reforms. "The problem won't be solved unless you let them hurry up and die."

    Aso's comments are likely to cause offence in Japan, where almost a quarter of the 128 million population is aged over 60. The proportion is forecast to rise to 40% over the next 50 years.

    The remarks are also an unwelcome distraction for the new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, whose first period as Japan's leader ended with his resignation after just a year, in 2007, partly due to a string of gaffes by members of his cabinet.

    Rising welfare costs, particularly for the elderly, were behind a decision last year to double consumption [sales] tax to 10% over the next three years, a move Aso's Liberal Democratic party supported.

    The 72-year-old, who doubles as deputy prime minister, said he would refuse end-of-life care. "I don't need that kind of care," he said in comments quoted by local media, adding that he had written a note instructing his family to deny him life-prolonging medical treatment.

    To compound the insult, he referred to elderly patients who are no longer able to feed themselves as "tube people". The health and welfare ministry, he added, was "well aware that it costs several tens of millions of yen" a month to treat a single patient in the final stages of life.

    Cost aside, caring for the elderly is a major challenge for Japan's stretched social services. According to a report this week, the number of households receiving welfare, which include family members aged 65 or over, stood at more than 678,000, or about 40% of the total. The country is also tackling a rise in the number of people who die alone, most of whom are elderly. In 2010, 4.6 million elderly people lived alone, and the number who died at home soared 61% between 2003 and 2010, from 1,364 to 2,194, according to the bureau of social welfare and public health in Tokyo.

    The government is planning to reduce welfare expenditure in its next budget, due to go into force this April, with details of the cuts expected within days.

    Aso, who has a propensity for verbal blunders, later attempted to clarify his comments. He acknowledged his language had been "inappropriate" in a public forum and insisted he was talking only about his personal preference.

    "I said what I personally believe, not what the end-of-life medical care system should be," he told reporters. "It is important that you be able spend the final days of your life peacefully."

    It is not the first time Aso, one of Japan's wealthiest politicians, has questioned the state's duty towards its large elderly population. In 2008, while serving as prime minister, he described "doddering" pensioners as tax burdens who should take better care of their health.

    "I see people aged 67 or 68 at class reunions who dodder around and are constantly going to the doctor," he said at a meeting of economists. "Why should I have to pay for people who just eat and drink and make no effort? I walk every day and do other things, but I'm paying more in taxes."

    He had already angered the country's doctors by telling them they lacked common sense, made a joke about Alzheimer's patients, and pronounced "penniless young men" unfit for marriage.

    In 2001, he said he wanted Japan to become the kind of successful country in which "the richest Jews would want to live".

    He once likened an opposition party to the Nazis, praised Japan's colonial rule in Taiwan and, as foreign minister, told US diplomats they would never be trusted in Middle East peace negotiations because they have "blue eyes and blond hair".

    While figures released on Monday showed a record 2.14 million Japanese were receiving welfare in October 2012, Aso has led a life of privilege few of his compatriots could hope to match.

    He is the grandson of Shigeru Yoshida, an influential postwar prime minister, and is married to the daughter of another former premier.

    While campaigning for the premiership in 2008, Aso refused to acknowledge***. He served as president of the firm's successor, Aso Cement, from 1973-79.

    *** that means that if your father/grandfather was a prisoner-of-war in wartime Japan, they may well have worked as slave labour to make this man's family rich.

  • return of parakeet
    return of parakeet

    That photo of Taro Aso shows he's not exactly a spring chicken himself. Why doesn't he just off himself and save his country both the expense of his eventual medical care and his stupid rhetoric?

  • ÁrbolesdeArabia

    I read about the seniors in Japan volunteering to clean up the Fukashima mess, the old Japanese figured they would give their life if radatition took ten years to kill them, the young deserved to life. He needs to jump in the reactor and save the air for a newborn Japanese baby?

  • dinah

    Wow. Are the Koch Brothers involved in their politics as well?

  • Satanus

    As a country, it's not very creative. They take creations of others and robotically improve them and copy them. This caveman era reasoning doesn't surprise me.


  • Satanus

    Somehow, all the crap that has happened to them seems as kind of a lesson or something being sent their way, somehow. There was the hammer blow to their emperor worship, when americans defeated them. Just thinking out loud, or through the keyboard.


  • doofdaddy

    I remember in the 80's the watchtower singing the praises of the Japanese work ethic, something along the lines of ants. All non thinking and obedient with massive growth among jws. Well they might have been right as this is the mindset of ants. Once something loses value it is destroyed and consumed. Anyone remember Soylent Green? I'm sure he would be keen to make old people into corn chips! Seriously my area of Australia is filling up with young Japanese wanting to escape the mad politics and polluted environment of Japan. A country in crisis.

  • fulltimestudent

    Taro Aso and Rupert Murdoch seem to speak in unison.

    An extract from a Global Times discussion of Welfare issues:

    (Quote) - In a tweet, Murdoch commented on a recent incident in which a 400-pound woman fell through a hole on a city sidewalk in New York and broke an arm. "How did fat lady who fell thru street get to 400 lbs? Welfare, stamps, etc? Then leave us all with 20yrs immense health bills," Murdoch scoffed.

    The combination of his attack on obesity and welfare at the same time was too much for many. Others noted that it isn't just poor people who get fat. Some said that if food stamps are to be blamed, it is only because the levels provided are not enough for the poor to be able to afford healthy food.

    In a time when the country is facing pressure to cut spending due to its astronomical government debt - now $16.4 trillion and growing - and a huge budget deficit of about $1 trillion a year, such attacks on welfare beneficiaries have become almost a daily norm. (endquote)

    Source: http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/758015.shtml

  • jgnat
  • ÁrbolesdeArabia

    The Japanese forget what Richard Demmings did for them and how his theories applied to all aspects of life. When American Business scorned and laughed at his ideas, the Japanese were humble enough to accept them and turn into the Titans. Now with Japan's Finance Minister, he is heading back to the Feudal Japan ideas. Bakuria!

    " http://deming.org/index.cfm?content=653

    Here is part of "Four Days With Demmings"


    Four Days with W. Edwards Deming
    By Scott M. Paton

    He is known as the savior of Japanese industry. He's been called a capitalist revolutionary. He is teacher to CEOs, middle managers, educators. His public courses are filled with some of the best and brightest from around the world. At 92 he keeps a consulting and teaching schedule that would tire people a quarter his age. He is known as a curmudgeon with little tolerance for those who don't, or won't, understand his concepts. He is W. Edwards Deming.

    Born in Sioux City, Iowa, on October 14, 1900, Deming moved to Wyoming with his family when he was seven. In 1917, Deming enrolled in the University of Wyoming where he studied engineering. Later he attended Yale University and received a doctorate in mathematical physics in 1927. His first job after graduating from Yale was with the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. He later moved on to what is now known as AT&T Bell Laboratories and worked with Walter Shewhart.

    But it was Deming's work in Japan following World War II that made him famous, at least in Japan. In 1949 the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) asked Deming to come to Japan to help increase productivity. He went in 1950 and gave eight lectures to 230 of Japan's leading industrialists. (Eighty percent of Japan's capital was controlled by the men in that room, Deming claims.) Ironically, it was the same course he had taught Americans during the war.

    Despite being revered as a virtual god in Japan, Deming remained relatively unknown in the United States until NBC broadcast a documentary in June 1980 titled, If Japan Can, Why Can't We? Many people credit this broadcast with igniting the quality renaissance that swept the United States in the 1980s.

    There are a number of books by and about Deming and his philosophies. Countless consultants hawk Deming's concepts as if they were their own. Videotapes abound, many featuring Deming himself, that explain his concepts.

    None of the books or videotapes about Deming and his philosophies capture the essence of the man or his message as effectively as Deming himself during his four-day public seminars. It is during his seminars, through lectures, questions, wry humor, badgering and sometimes sheer force of will, that Deming conveys the urgent need for change and how that change must occur.

    I attended Deming's four-day seminar at General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, last October. About 500 people were in the audience for Deming's seminar, with more than 2,000 others watching via satellite around the country. What follows is a personal reflection on those four days.

    Day One

    As the huge auditorium filled, Deming was wheeled to the edge of the stage by one of his ever-present aides. The frail 92-year-old guru held on to the edge of the table and shuffled slowly to his seat. Once there, he sat down, reviewed his notes and leaned back to view his audience with a mixture of disdain and amusement.

    While Deming waited for the appointed time, another of his aides explained how the four-day seminar would be conducted. Dr. Deming, as he is always referred to by the cadre of Deming disciples who always surround him and cater to his every need, expects the audience to ask questions. The audience would be organized into study groups that would tackle several questions each day and report back to the entire assembly the next day. If Dr. Deming became ill during the four days (which he did not), someone else would continue in his place, the aide explained.

    At precisely 8:45 a.m. Deming began his lecture with a question. "Is it sufficient to have happy customers?" he asked in his characteristically deep, gravelly voice. "The customer never invented anything. The customer generates nothing. He takes what he gets."

    He then went on to explain the disappearance of carburetor manufacturers. Sure, they made better and better products, but now they are gone. Why? "They saw themselves as carburetor makers, not as providers of mixing fuel and air," replied Deming.

    Change comes from outside the system, according to Deming. No matter how hard employees work or how few defects they produce, the tide of innovation and change cannot be held back.

    Just to do well in the future is not enough, Deming pronounced. "We must constantly ask ourselves 'What business are we in?' if we are to survive," he said. "There is no substitute for knowledge."

    Having told the group that there is no substitute for knowledge, Deming went on to say that the most important losses and gains have no figures.

    An example: Spend $20,000 training 10 people in a special skill. What's the benefit? "You'll never know," answered Deming. "You'll never be able to measure it. Why did you do it? Because you believed it would pay off. Theory."

    Although we cannot measure them, we must manage them, Deming told us. But by what method? "If you don't have a method, you were goofing off," he declared. "A system must be managed and must have an aim."

    Throughout the first day, patterns emerged that would be repeated during all four days. Deming had much more energy in the morning than he did in the afternoon. When he sensed the audience had difficulty understanding a particular concept, he would stop and ask for questions, most of which he ignored. It also soon became obvious that Deming's lectures came almost verbatim from his new book The New Economics for Industry, Education, Government, which is little more than a simplified version of his classic book Out of the Crisis.

    At the end of day one, the audience broke up into about 40 groups of people. These study groups received a long list of questions pertaining to Deming's lectures. They prepared answers to at least three questions to present them to the entire audience the next morning. Suddenly, what appeared so simple in his lectures became quite complex during the discussion. After about an hour of group discussion, the participants left for the day.

    Day Two

    The second day began with presentations by selected working groups. About 15 people gave brief presentations to the audience on the questions their group had selected. Deming looked on from center stage. He rarely spoke up during the presentations. But when he did, it was usually either to compliment or to correct a presenter.

    Deming began his lecture again promptly at 8:45 a.m. He spoke first about innovation. "Innovation comes from freedom," he said. "It comes from those who are obligated to no one. It comes from people who are responsible only to themselves."

    Then he moved on to what was probably the most difficult concept for the audience to understand during the entire four days: the idea that competition is bad. Deming explained that competition in and between organizations, whether they be manufacturers, government or education, is the worst thing that can happen to an organization. Deming claims that infighting between different parts of organizations for resources is one of the most destructive forces in modern organizations. He credits Japan's lack of competition for its phenomenal success.

    After lunch, Deming conducted his famous Red Bead Experiment. During this exercise, Deming asks six "willing workers" to scoop beads from a box using a special tool. The goal is to select only white beads. Unfortunately, 20 percent of the beads are red. This makes it nearly impossible select only white beads.

    Deming tried his best to get his willing workers to produce defect-free work (no red beads). It's obvious that the goals he set for the workers were impossible. No matter how hard the workers tried and no matter how much Deming threatened, praised and rewarded them, the system was at fault, not the willing workers. Deming demonstrated this by constructing a control chart which clearly showed that the workers produced within control limits.

    I've seen the Red Bead Experiment done by other consultants, but none of them does it as masterfully as Deming himself. He shows how utterly futile it is to blame workers for system problems that are beyond their control.

    Again at the end of the day, the working groups got together to prepare answers to a list of questions that had seemed so simple during Deming's lectures but became quite complicated during the groups discussion.

    Day Three

    After the working group presentations, Deming began his lecture on the subject of theory. "If you don't have a theory, you don't have an experience," he announced. "Without theory there is no observation; there is no experience."

    Throughout the day Deming took swipes at a lot of today's popular buzzwords. For example, he apparently doesn't care much for ISO 9000 or zero defects. "ISO 9000 shows a lack of brains," he chided the audience. "Zero defects," he said, "down the tubes we go."

    He doesn't care much for the benchmarking craze that's sweeping the nation either. "Benchmarking is the last stage of civilization," he claimed.

    Neither were self-directed work teams safe from Deming's scrutiny. "Each works for its own goals and benefit," he said. "They are very destructive."

    Deming spent much of the third day explaining how to use control charts correctly. He made sure that the audience knew the difference between common causes of variation and special causes. He used the data collected during the Red Bead Experiment to demonstrate this.

    Day three ended much as the previous days had. Working groups tackled tough questions to present for the last time to the group the next day.

    Day Four

    The last day of' the seminar again started with presentations by group members.

    Deming began his lecture by talking about Japan. He also offered advice on how U.S. companies could enter the Japanese market. "The Japanese are not going to break up relationships with their suppliers that have lasted 30 to 35 years just to buy American products," he observed. "Americans can introduce new products into Japan if they want to do business with the Japanese."

    He also talked about the role of the supervisor in an organization. He explained that a supervisor has two responsibilities: to assist those who need special help and to improve the system.

    Deming concluded his lecture as nonchalantly as he had begun four days earlier. He pronounced that each of the participants now had the "profound knowledge" necessary to make radical changes in their organizations.

    During his standing ovation, the great man simply stood up, walked shakily to the edge of the stage and was wheeled away by one of his aides.

    There were times during the four-day seminar when it took on the appearance of a religious meeting: Deming sat upon his altar of knowledge attended to by his loyal acolytes while the faithful in the audience absorbed knowledge from the master. At every break, lines would form in front of the great man to get his autograph.

    At other times, Deming seemed all too human. There were often times he couldn't hear or didn't understand a question and simply ignored them. One time during the Red Bead Experiment, Deming became confused for a moment when adding a column of numbers. He quickly recognized his error and continued on.

    Perhaps the most human moment of all for me during the four days is when I overhead [sic] the quality guru ask his daughter over the telephone if his beloved cat had enough catnip.

    He may be revered as a virtual god in Japan. He may be seen as a capitalist revolutionary in boardrooms around the globe. I'll always remember his concern for his cat.

    Suggested Readings on W. Edwards Deming
    The Deming Dimension by Henry R. Neave. Published by SPC Press Inc., 5908 Toole Drive, Suite C, Knoxville, TN 37919.
    The Deming Guide to Quality and Competitive Position by Howard S. Gitlow and Shelly J. Gitlow. Published by Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632.
    Deming Management at Work by Mary Walton. Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016.
    The Deming Management Method by Mary Walton. Published by GP Putnam's Sons, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016.
    The Deming Vision: SPC/TQM for Administrators by Gary Fellers. Published by ASQC Quality Press, American Society for Quality Control, 310 West Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203.
    Deming's Road to Continual Improvement by William W. Scherkenbach. Published by SPC Press Inc., 5908 Toole Drive, Suite C, Knoxville, TN 37919.
    Out of the Crisis by W. Edwards Deming. Published by the Massachusetts Institute of' Technology, Center for Advanced Engineering Study, Cambridge, MA 02139.
    The World of W. Edwards Deming by Cecelia S. Kilian. Published by SPC Press Inc., 5908 Toole Drive, Suite C, Knoxville, TN 37919.

    The Fourteen Points
    1.Create and publish to all employees a statement of the aims and purposes of the company or other organization. The management must demonstrate constantly their commitment to this statement.
    2.Learn the new philosophy, top management and everybody.
    3.Understand the purpose of inspection, for improvement of processes and reduction of cost.
    4.End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag alone.
    5.Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service.
    6.Institute training.
    7.Teach and institute leadership.
    8.Drive out fear. Create trust. Create a climate for innovation.
    9.Optimize toward the aims and purposes of the company the efforts of teams, groups, staff areas.
    10.Eliminate exhortations for the work force.
    11a.Eliminate numerical quotas for production. Instead, learn and institute methods for improvement.
    11b.Eliminate MBO. Instead, learn the capabilities of processes, and how to improve them.
    12.Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship.
    13.Encourage education and self-improvement for everyone.
    14.Take action to accomplish the transformation.

    Deming's 14 Points (January 1990 revision) reprinted from Out of the Crisis by W. Edwards Deming by permission of MIT and W. Edwards Deming. Published by MIT, Center for Advanced Engineering Study, Cambridge, MA 02139. Copyright 1986 by W. Edwards Deming.

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