Japan’s former Prime Minister Taro Aso later apologized for comments he said reflected his personal beliefs and not official policy.
The Toronto Sun reports that one of Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso’s solutions to rising health care costs is for the elderly to "hurry up and die."
Aso’s remarks came Monday during a meeting of Japan’s National Council on Social Security Reforms.
The Sun quoted Aso as saying, "Heaven forbid if you are forced to live on when you want to die. You cannot sleep well when you think it's all being paid for by the government. This won't be solved unless you let them hurry up and die."
He was also reported as saying that patients incapable of feeding themselves were "tube persons."
Aso, who also serves as Japan’s deputy prime minister, subsequently apologized for his remarks.
"I said what I personally believe, not what the end-of-life medical care system should be," the Sun reported Aso saying. "It is important that you can spend the final days of your life peacefully."
Japan has the world’s oldest population, and, with an average lifespan of 83.5 years, the world’s longest life expectancy. The country faces decreased fertility rates and a rapidly aging population. By 2050, nearly 40 percent of the country's population will be aged 65 or older.
Aso, who is 72, is a former Japanese prime minister and has a reputation for making ill-advised or inappropriate remarks in public.