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Old 01-24-2013, 09:48 AM   #1
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Japanese finance minister says old folks should be allowed to "hurry up and die"

He'd "feel bad" if the government paid for elderly peoples' medical care.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013...p-die-japanese
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Old 01-24-2013, 10:00 AM   #2
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Dude's 72. He should lead by example.
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Old 01-24-2013, 10:30 AM   #3
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To be fair, it is an insightful perspective into Japan's growing generation gap.

In many ways, Japan is still recovering from WWII, and its declining birth rate on top of that means there's a uniquely huge cultural and age gap between the older generation and the younger generation in what has historically been a very homogenous country.
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:13 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by kuwisdelu View Post
To be fair, it is an insightful perspective into Japan's growing generation gap.

In many ways, Japan is still recovering from WWII, and its declining birth rate on top of that means there's a uniquely huge cultural and age gap between the older generation and the younger generation in what has historically been a very homogenous country.
Yeah...

It took me someone pointing this out for me to "get" films like Akira.
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:46 PM   #5
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From the article, what he said (my boldface):

Quote:
"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."
When he says he would "feel bad," I think he means that if he was in that situation, himself. He clarified that he was speaking about end of life medical care. Not so outrageous, imo.
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Old 01-24-2013, 04:50 PM   #6
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Yeah.... this shows the benefit of actually reading the article.

I pretty much agree with him. You should be allowed to die when you're ready to go.

I hope I die like my grandmother did. In her own bed, surrounded by family.

If not, then I just want it to be quick.
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Old 01-24-2013, 05:58 PM   #7
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:03 PM   #8
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I read the article. The guy still sounds like an asshole.

Quote:
"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."
Aso (rhymes with asshole) seems like he'd be right at home immigrating to America and running as a Tea Party politician.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:53 PM   #9
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I wish my grand-grandmother could die soon. She's 92, morbidly obese, can't raise from her bed or walk in her own, needs to use diapers all the time, is deaf and almost blind, and has had this conditions for the past four years. She claims it's hell.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:56 PM   #10
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Dude's 72. He should lead by example.
Hey, 72's not nearly as old as I once thought it was. Lighten up.
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:59 PM   #11
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Hey, 72's not nearly as old as I once thought it was. Lighten up.
Yep. Fifty or sixty years ago I would have agreed with the guy.
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Old 01-24-2013, 10:18 PM   #12
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Beyond the 'welfare state' argument that this is, there is a real question about "quantity vs. quality" of life, I think. I'm one of those who would rather be able to "step off' at some point.

My biggest fear is that I will in some way be physically or cognitively debilitated to the point that I won't be able to make that decision when the time comes.
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Old 01-24-2013, 10:36 PM   #13
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Beyond the 'welfare state' argument that this is, there is a real question about "quantity vs. quality" of life, I think. I'm one of those who would rather be able to "step off' at some point.

My biggest fear is that I will in some way be physically or cognitively debilitated to the point that I won't be able to make that decision when the time comes.
This. I feel the same way, as does my husband. We don't want to live forever if our last ten, twenty, or even five years are spent incapacitated in some way that prevents us from enjoying the rest of our time on earth.
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Old 01-24-2013, 11:08 PM   #14
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I don't suppose any of our members who live or have lived in Japan can comment on the growing generation gap issue the country is facing? It seems like understanding the cultural issues at play here would be pretty important in understanding the perspective in this story.
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Old 01-24-2013, 11:39 PM   #15
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Yeah...

It took me someone pointing this out for me to "get" films like Akira.
Bennett The Sage made an interesting connection with Grave of the Fireflies to the generation gap.
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Old 01-25-2013, 12:36 AM   #16
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At least he's honest about what he thinks, unlike many Western politicians
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Old 01-25-2013, 01:29 AM   #17
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I don't suppose any of our members who live or have lived in Japan can comment on the growing generation gap issue the country is facing? It seems like understanding the cultural issues at play here would be pretty important in understanding the perspective in this story.
I'm not sure what I could add. There is a huge age gap. You go into a grocery store and see a dozen elderly and two children. There are a lot of concerns about issues similar to what China is facing in regards to not having a workforce in a few years that will be able to support the aged, and the fact that it could cause problems for the economy.

Most of the talk, though, is more about raising birth rates. It's not that easy to do, though, as a lot of the reasons they are having fewer children have to do with problems with family and work traditions that are difficult to change.

In Japan, typically speaking a couple gets married, the woman stays home (especially after having kids) and the husband works. However, overtime is common and expected, and it's considered a bad thing to leave early, to the point that in a lot of places you don't leave before your superiors, even if your work is done. Husbands often work until nine or ten, then go out and have drinks, and don't return home until late. They get up at five or six in the morning and do it again.

That means wives are left to fend for raising children increasingly on their own, and often feel like single mothers. They often don't want to have more children because they know they'll be doing much of the child-rearing and household work on their own.

There's been a push to try to limit work hours and overtime to help this situation, but what happens is they'll declare that work ends at a certain time and people just stay late anyway.

So there is some push to try to change the way things are and increase the birth rate, but a large percentage of the population are seniors, and while I was there it was usually seen as a problem on the young end, not the old end.
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Old 01-25-2013, 01:59 AM   #18
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The imbalance has been used as a plot device in anime for years. I'm remembering specifically a couple of Ghost in the Shell episodes, where the elderly 'adopt' orphan children, or rely on robot care.
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Old 01-25-2013, 02:38 AM   #19
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The imbalance has been used as a plot device in anime for years. I'm remembering specifically a couple of Ghost in the Shell episodes, where the elderly 'adopt' orphan children, or rely on robot care.
I was thinking of Eden of the East. It's pretty much about the politics of the generation gap.

Although the movies had horrible pacing.
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Old 01-25-2013, 03:03 AM   #20
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However, overtime is common and expected, and it's considered a bad thing to leave early, to the point that in a lot of places you don't leave before your superiors, even if your work is done. Husbands often work until nine or ten, then go out and have drinks, and don't return home until late. They get up at five or six in the morning and do it again.

That means wives are left to fend for raising children increasingly on their own, and often feel like single mothers. They often don't want to have more children because they know they'll be doing much of the child-rearing and household work on their own.

There's been a push to try to limit work hours and overtime to help this situation, but what happens is they'll declare that work ends at a certain time and people just stay late anyway.
Yeah. I'd love to live in Japan for a while, but I could never work for a Japanese company.
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Old 01-25-2013, 03:40 AM   #21
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My grandfather, sick and weak, told me this Christmas: (from memory, so maybe not perfect)

"Those scientists think they're so damned smart, keeping people alive longer than ever before... and everybody thinks, 'oh, isn't it great how long people are living?' but nobody tells you what it's like to live this long. It's miserable. Just terrible. No one should be forced to outlive their usefulness. Living like this - helpless, weak, hurting all the time, can't even get to the bathroom right - nobody should be forced to do that. They got me in the hospital all the time now... why can't they just let me die? Let me have some damned dignity."

The "usefulness" thing echos what the finance minister said almost eerily. It stuck out to me at the time, and I tried arguing with Grandpa about it... but what it came down to is he felt useless, and therefore worthless. He was beginning to hate himself because of what he had become.

It's worth noting that Grandpa has a degenerative nerve disease, and is not doing at all well. On the other hand, there are people like my husband's grandmother - well into her eighties, she's spry, witty, and a joy to be around. She takes pleasure in life and in her family. It would be a travesty to let her die from anything remotely recoverable. She's worth fighting for... and more importantly, she'd want that chance.

I think the US goes too far in some cases, in that it does not allow for assissted suicide and often treats patients even when they would prefer to let their maladies take their toll. But any nation who didn't do it's damnedest to cover the basic healthcare needs of people like my husband's grandmother would be going too far in the other direction. There needs to be room for personal choice in end-of-life care decisions, and whatever choice is made, I think our laws and our healthcare should respect it.
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Old 01-25-2013, 03:41 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mirandashell View Post
Yeah.... this shows the benefit of actually reading the article.

I pretty much agree with him. You should be allowed to die when you're ready to go.

I hope I die like my grandmother did. In her own bed, surrounded by family.

If not, then I just want it to be quick.
I think anyone who's had extremely elderly relatives, or ones with serious, degenerative or chronic illnesses where there is no chance of recovery would probably agree. An insane amount of care is usually required, even more than an infant and when the nurse or some relative (if they're lucky!) isn't tending to them there's nothing to do and most of the time they aren't interested anyway. If I ever get near that point I'm stockpiling pain killers, that's it.

Before one of my grandmothers died, she told her three kids that if they did anything to unnecessarily prolong her life, that when she really did die, she'd come back and haunt them
One of my grandfathers suffered a series of strokes and spent the last year of his life in a hospital bed paralysed on one side. He was miserable the entire time and it was compounded by the knowledge that he wouldn't get better. No thanks.
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Old 01-25-2013, 04:16 PM   #23
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I am in no way saying that people should be pushed to die just because they are old. Like everyone else, the older I get, the older my definition of 'old' is getting.

But if I have no quality of life, like some of the people mentioned in the thread, just let me go.
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Old 01-25-2013, 04:47 PM   #24
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Okay, I'm just going to say now that I think the generation gap is a more interesting discussion than the right-to-die and life-quality stuff which (I think) isn't exactly a debate that hasn't come up before around here in various forms (with some frequency).

The particular quote that inspired this thread probably is more about that, but I'm more interested in the politics of a population dealing with a major cultural gap between its generations. I don't think it's entirely impertinent to other states, either.

For a long time in the US, for example, issues like social security are something that no politician's really been willing to touch...

On the one hand, that's something that could very quickly lose you the vote of older generations, nor is distributing money to the elderly who've "earned it" as controversial as welfare or socialized healthcare and that kind of thing. On the other hand, I don't think it would be possible to win an election today without winning a substantial proportion of the youth vote.

But as much as older Americans (like every other nationality and every generation before them) might like to complain about "kids today," we don't have quite the cultural gap that a nation like Japan has.

So what happens when you have a divided population? When it's not so much as question of "right" or "wrong," even in the minds of those who are voting, but more a matter of who arbitrarily gets left out in the cold, north of the Wall. It's not as if America hasn't experienced that kind of thing before...

On the one hand, you have what the up-and-coming generation wants. You have the future. On the other hand, you have what the elders want. Maybe it's the past, but is it really right to expect them to vote against their own interests just because they're on the way out?

What do you think?
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