Japan's new finance minister has claimed that the elderly in the country should 'hurry up and die' to help ease the cost to the taxpayer of caring for them.
Taro Aso made the controversial statement as he discussed how to deal with the country's emerging demographic crisis, as its population continues to shrink while life expectancy soars.
According to the Daily Mail, Aso's comments come after figures released earlier this month showed that the country saw its largest population drop in more than a century last year and is now aging faster than any other in the world.
More than 20 percent of its 128 million population is already over 65 and set to double to more than 40 percent within the next 50 years while birthrates continues to plummet.
The country faces a bleak future where there will be more dependent children and elderly than those in the age-range where they can work and contribute, the report said.
Aso, who is also the deputy Prime Minister, described those dependent on feeding tubes as 'tube people' and said it cost 'tens of millions of yen' a month to care for them.
The 72-year-old claimed he would refuse end-of-life care and that he had given his family instructions not to give him life-prolonging care.
According to the report, his comments come ahead of expected welfare cuts due to be announced in the next budget in the next few days and enforced from April.
Aso later apologized for his 'inappropriate' remarks, adding that he said what he personally believed, not what the end-of-life medical care system should be, the report added. (ANI)