Japanese Prime Minister Says It As He Sees It

November 30, 2008 at 1:43 pm

In these days of Political Correctness this story from Japan gives me a strange sense of hope. Whether he is right or wrong (and I don’t know much about Japan) we should all be pleased that someone in his elected position felt free to say something like this out loud.

To quote directly from the Times:

“He has ridiculed doctors, mocked the mentally ill and made light of wartime atrocities, but this time Taro Aso may have taken things too far: the Prime Minister of the world’s fastest-ageing nation has condemned Japan’s elderly as a bunch of “hobbling malingerers”.

Having shattered a sacred taboo, the nationalist Mr Aso, who is 68, added: “I pay my taxes, so why should I pay money for people who laze around eating and drinking and never do anything?

Members of Mr Aso’s own party told The Times that the attack on seniority and ill-health was “completely irresponsible” in a country where one in five voters is over 70 years old, where the healthcare system is in crisis and a general election is looming. “He seems to be saying that old people should feel guilty for visiting the doctor,” said one ruling coalition MP. “He must have said it without realising how many people that would upset.

Others believe that the comments were entirely predictable, given Mr Aso’s previous form. His attack on old people for their lack of exercise and for “always tottering off to the doctor” was blurted out during a ministerial meeting on the economic crisis and marks probably the most spectacular gaffe of a political career strewn with increasingly baffling clangers.

Doctors, he said recently, tended to lack common sense; Japan, he declared on another occasion, should make itself attractive to “rich Jews”. He was once made to apologise for a joke about people suffering from Alzheimer’s, and quipped to victims of a flood that it was lucky for everyone that the city nearby had not been hit.”