A Yale University professor has said that elderly Japanese people should commit "mass suicide" so that the country can deal with its aging population, the New York Times reported Sunday.
Professor Yusuke Narita, 37, said in 2021 that "the only solution" to dealing with the elderly in Japan is "pretty clear."
"In the end, isn't it mass suicide and mass seppuku of the elderly?" Narita asked on a Japanese news program. Seppuku is ritual self-disembowelment that samurai committed for bringing dishonor on themselves.
Japan, where more than one in four people are 65 or over, is far from the only country to have an aging population. In the United States, "older adults are projected to outnumber kids" as soon as 2034, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2018. Middle-aged Americans already outnumber children.
Narita has made other pro-suicide comments in recent years. Last year, he pointed to a scene in the film Midsommar in which a Swedish cult member voluntarily jumps off a cliff and suggested that the suicide depicted may be "a good thing." He has also discussed making euthanasia "mandatory in the future."
The Yale professor has become a social media celebrity in Japan, the Times reported, gaining hundreds of thousands of followers among "frustrated youths who believe their economic progress has been held back by a gerontocratic society."
Narita told the Times that his comments were taken out of context.
Yale did not respond to the Times's request for comment.