EUTANASIA A 75 ANNI E SUICIDIO DI MASSA DEGLI ANZIANI
Per sostenere i giovani e risolvere il problema dell’invecchiamento della popolazione in Giappone: una provocazione su cui riflettere anche alle nostre latitudini
Ho visto recentemente il film giapponese “Plan 75” del 2022 sull’idea del favorire con incentivi, promozione su larga scala e sostegno governativo, l’eutanasia degli anziani a partire dai 75 anni. E negli stessi giorni, il 13 febbraio 2023 il NYT (New York Times) ha pubblicato un articolo relativo a una dichiarazione di un assistente professore giapponese di economia alla prestigiosa università di Yale che sosteneva che l’unica soluzione all’invecchiamento della popolazione in Giappone è il suicidio di massa degli anziani, facendo riferimento al “Seppuku”, il suicidio rituale dei samurai disonorati nel 19esimo secolo.
E in una sua lezione Yusuke Narita aveva mostrato il film dell’orrore del 2019 “Midsommar” in cui secondo un culto svedese un anziano veniva mandato a suicidarsi lanciandosi da una alta scogliera. In proposito a un giornalista diceva: “"Se lei pensa che sia una cosa buona, allora forse può lavorare sodo per creare una società di questo tipo".
L’articolo del NYT ha sollevato un putiferio ed è stato ripreso da numerose testate, e in Giappone tocca un tasto molto sensibile perché la società sta invecchiando fortemente ma per assetto socio-economico tradizionale, il passaggio del potere fra generazioni è molto difficile, quasi impossibile.
Il Dottor Narita ha scritto
“Avrei dovuto essere più cauto sulle potenziali connotazioni negative.”
Sostenendo che, “suicidio di massa” e “seppuku di massa” erano “una metafora
Il NYT però cita l'editorialista
Masato Fujisaki che “ha sostenuto su Newsweek Japan che le osservazioni del
professore "non dovrebbero essere facilmente prese come una
"metafora"". I fan del dottor Narita, ha detto Fujisaki, sono
persone "che pensano che gli anziani dovrebbero già morire e che
l'assistenza sociale dovrebbe essere tagliata". Nonostante la cultura
della deferenza verso le generazioni più anziane, in Giappone sono già emerse
idee sulla loro eliminazione. Un decennio fa, Taro Aso - all'epoca ministro
delle Finanze e ora mediatore di potere nel Partito liberaldemocratico al governo
- suggerì che gli anziani avrebbero dovuto "sbrigarsi a morire".
E bisogna anche tener
conto della storia del Giappone dove parlare “di "suicidio di
massa", suscita sensibilità storiche in un Paese in cui giovani sono stati
mandati a morire come piloti kamikaze durante la Seconda Guerra Mondiale e i
soldati giapponesi hanno ordinato a migliaia di famiglie di Okinawa di
suicidarsi piuttosto che arrendersi.”
Idee che secondo
alcuni aprono le porte a un dibattito necessario sulle riforme pensionistiche e
sul sistema di welfare, ma per altri si tratta solo di una sottolineatura del
peso dell’invecchiamento della popolazione senza nessuna prospettiva realistica
per alleviare la pressione sociale.
“I critici temono
che i suoi commenti possano evocare il tipo di sentimenti che hanno portato il
Giappone ad approvare una legge sull'eugenetica nel 1948, in base alla quale i
medici hanno sterilizzato forzatamente migliaia di persone con disabilità
intellettive, malattie mentali o disturbi genetici. Nel 2016, un uomo che
riteneva che i disabili dovessero essere sottoposti a eutanasia ha ucciso 19
persone in una casa di cura fuori Tokyo.”
Chie Hayakawa, la
regista del film distopico “Plan 75”, che ci si augura non sia “profetico”, aveva
fatto un test chiedendo ad amici anziani di sua madre e altri conoscenti: “Se
il governo sponsorizzasse un programma di eutanasia per le persone con più di
75 anni, lei sarebbe d'accordo?" “La maggior parte delle persone era molto
favorevole", ha detto la signora Hayakawa. "Non volevano
essere un peso per gli altri o per i loro figli".
Mi chiedo se la nostra
cultura di origine cristiana, che ha nel suo DNA i valori del rispetto della
vita e la protezione dei più deboli, riuscirà a controbilanciare la logica
dell’eutanasia per ragioni socio-economiche o di “qualità” della vita? Un
dibattito su un Plan 75 nostrano forse non è poi così lontano.
Ed ecco una versione leggermente ridotta pubblicata sulla rivista di Caritas Ticino.
E l'articolo del NYT del 13.02.2023 a cui si fa riferimento:
THE NEW YORK TIMES INTERNATIONAL MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13,3023
Scholar Suggests Mass Suicide for Japans Old. Does He Mean It?
TOKYO— His pronouncements could hardly sound more
In interviews and public appearances, Yusuke Narita,
an assistant professor of economics at Yale, has taken on the question of how
to deal with the burdens of Japan’s rapidly aging society.
“I feel like the only solution is pretty clear,” he
said during one online news program in late 2021. “In the end, isn't it mass suicide
and mass ‘seppuku’ of the elderly?” Seppuku is an act of ritual disembowelment
that was a code among dishonored samurai in the 19th century.
Last year, when asked by a school-age boy to elaborate
mass seppuku theories, Dr Narita graphically described
to a group of assembled students a scene from "Midsommar,” a 2019 horror
film in which a Swedish cult sends one of its oldest members to commit suicide
by jumping off a cliff.
“Whether that’s a good thing or not, that’s a more
difficult question to answer,” Dr. Narita told the questioner as he
assiduously scribbled notes. “So if you think that’s good, then maybe you can
work hard toward creating a society like that”
Continued on Page A10
From Page A1
times, he has broached the topic of euthanasia. “The possibility of making it
mandatory in the future,” he said in one interview, will “come up in
37, said that his statements had been “taken out of context” and that he was
mainly addressing a growing effort to push the most senior people out of
leadership positions in business and politics - to make room for younger
generations. Nevertheless, with his comments on euthanasia and social security,
he has pushed the hottest button in Japan.
While he is
virtually unknown even in academic circles in the United States, his extreme
positions have helped him gain hundreds of thousands of followers on social
media in Japan among frustrated youths who believe their economic progress has
been held back by a gerontocratic society.
frequently on Japanese online shows in T-shirts, hoodies or casual jackets, and
wearing signature eyeglasses with one round and one square lens, Dr. Narita
leans into his Ivy League pedigree as he fosters a nerdy shock jock impression.
He is among a few Japanese provocateurs who have found an eager audience by
gleefully breaching social taboos. His Twitter bio: “The things you’re told
you’re not allowed to say are usually true.”
several commenters discovered Dr. jNarlta's remarks and began spreading them on
social media. During a panel discussion on a respected internet talk show with
scholars and journalists, Yuki Honda, a University of Tokyo sociologist,
described his comments as “hatred toward the vulnerable.”
group of critics warn that Dr. Narita's popularity could unduly sway public
policy and social norms. Given Japan’s low birthrate and the highest public
debt in the developed world, policymakers increasingly worry about how to fund
Japan’s expanding pension obligations. The country is also grappling with
growing numbers of older people who suffer from dementia or die alone.
answers to emailed questions, Dr. Narita said he was “primarily concerned with
the phenomenon in Japan, where the same tycoons continue to dominate the worlds
of politics, traditional industries, and media/entertainment/journalism for
“ mass suicide" and “mass seppuku,” he wrote, were “an abstract metaphor.”
have been more careful about their potential negative connotations,” he added.
“After some self-reflection, I stopped using the words last year."
detractors say his repeated remarks on the subject have already spread dangerous
irresponsible," said Masaki Kubota, a journalist who has written about Dr.
Narita. People panicking about the burdens of an aging society “might think.
‘Oh. my grandparents are the ones who are living longer,’” Mr. Kubota said,
"‘and we should just get rid of them.'”
Fujisaki, a columnist, argued in Newsweek Japan that the professor’s remarks
"should not be easily taken as a ‘metaphor.” Dr. Narita’s fans, Mr.
Fujisaki said, are people “who think that old people should just die already
and social welfare should be cut*
culture of deference to older generations, Ideas about culling them have
surfaced in Japan before. A decade ago. Taro Aso — the finance minister at the
time and now a power broker in the governing Liberal Democratic Party —
suggested that old people should “hurry up and die."
'Plan75 "a dystopian movie by the Japanese filmmaker Chie Hayakawa,
imagined cheerful salespeople wooing retirees into government-sponsored
euthanasia. In Japanese folklore, families carry older relatives to the top of
mountains or remote corners of forests and leave them to die.
Narita's language, particularly when he has mentioned “mass suicide,” arouses
historical sensitivities in a country where young men were sent to their deaths
as kamikaze pilots during World War II and Japanese soldiers ordered thousands
of families in Okinawa to commit suicide rather than surrender.
worry that his comments could summon the kinds of sentiments that led Japan to
pass a eugenics law in 1948, under which doctors forcibly sterilized thousands
of people with intellectual disabilities, mental illness or genetic disorders.
In 2016, a man who believed those with disabilities should be euthanized
murdered 19 people at a care home outside Tokyo.
In his day
job, Dr. Narita conducts technical research of computerized algorithms used in
education and health care policy. But as a regular presence across numerous
internet platforms and on television in Japan, he has grown increasingly
popular, appearing on magazine covers and comedy shows and in an advertisement
for energy drinks. He has even spawned an imitator on TikTok.
appears with Gen X rabble-rousers like Hiroyuki Nishimura, a celebrity
entrepreneur and owner of 4chan, the online message board where some of the
internet’s most toxic ideas bloom, and Takafumi Horie, a trash-talking
entrepreneur who once went to prison for securities fraud.
he has pushed the boundaries of taste. At a panel hosted by Globis, a Japanese
graduate business school, Dr. Narita told the audience that “if this can become
a Japanese society where people like you all commit seppuku one after another,
it wouldn’t be just a social security policy, but it would be the best ‘Cool
Japan' policy.” Cool Japan is a government program promoting the country’s
not, some lawmakers say, Dr. Narita’s ideas are opening the door to much-needed
political conversations about pension reform and changes to social welfare.
“There is criticism that older people are receiving too much pension money and
the young people are supporting all the old people, even those who are
wealthy,” said Shun Otokita, 39, a member of the upper house of Parliament with
Nippon Ishin no Kai, a right-leaning party.
detractors aay Dr. Narita highlights the burdens of an aging population without
suggesting realistic policies that could alleviate some of the pressures.
focusing on helpful strategies such as better access to day care or broader
inclusion of women in the work force or broader inclusion of immigrants,"
said Alexis Dudden, a historian at the University of Connecticut who studies
modem Japan. “Things that might actually invigorate Japanese society.”
broaching euthanasia, Dr. Narita has spoken publicly of his mother, who had an
aneurysm when he was 19. In an interview with a website where families can
search for nursing homes. Dr. Narita described how even with insurance and
government financing, his mother's care cost him 100,000 yen — or about $760— a
surveys in Japan have indicated that a majority of the public supports
legalizing voluntary euthanasia. Bui Mr. Narita's reference to a mandatory
practice spooks ethicists. Currently, every country that has legalized the
practice only “allows it if the person wants it themselves,” said Fumika
Yamamoto, a professor of philosophy at Tokyo City University.
emailed responses. Dr. Narita said that “euthanasia (either voluntary or
involuntary) is a complex, nuanced issue.”
not advocating Its introduction,” he added. “I predict it to be more broadly
Dr. Narita sticks to courses on probability, statistics, econometrics and
education and labor economics.
Tony Smith, the department chair in economics, nor a spokesperson for Yale
replied to requests for comment.
Angrist, who has won the Nobel in economic science and was one of Dr. Narita's
doctoral supervisors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said his
former student was a “talented scholar” with an “offbeat sense of humor."
“I would like to see Yusuke continue a very promising career as a scholar,” Dr. Angrist said. “So my main concern in a case like his is that he’s being distracted by other things, and that's kind of a shame.”
The New York Times June 17, 2022
Chie Hayakawa’s film, “Plan 75,”
Filmmaker Imagines a Japan Where the Elderly Volunteer to Die
for Chie Hayakawa’s film, “Plan 75,” is shocking: a government push to
euthanize the elderly. In a rapidly aging society, some also wonder: Is the
Hayakawa in Tokyo. Her new film “Plan 75” takes on one of the biggest elephants
in the room in Japan: the challenges of dealing with the world’s oldest
society.Credit...Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times
By Motoko Rich
TOKYO — The
Japanese film director Chie Hayakawa was germinating the idea for a screenplay
when she decided to test out her premise on elderly friends of her mother and
other acquaintances. Her question: If the government sponsored a euthanasia
program for people 75 and over, would you consent to it?
people were very positive about it,” Ms. Hayakawa said. “They didn’t want to be
a burden on other people or their children.”
Hayakawa, the seemingly shocking response was a powerful reflection of Japan’s
culture and demographics. In her first feature-length film, “Plan 75,” which
won a special distinction at the Cannes Film Festival this month, the government of
a near-future Japan promotes quiet institutionalized deaths and group burials
for lonely older people, with cheerful salespeople pitching them on the idea as
if hawking travel insurance.
mind-set is that if the government tells you to do something, you must do it,”
Ms. Hayakawa, 45, said in an interview in Tokyo before the film’s opening in
Japan on Friday. Following the rules and not imposing on others, she said, are
cultural imperatives “that make sure you don’t stick out in a group setting.”
lyrical, understated touch, Ms. Hayakawa has taken on one of the biggest
elephants in the room in Japan: the challenges of dealing with the world’s
one-third of the country’s population is 65 or older, and Japan has more centenarians per capita than any other
nation. One out of five people over 65 in Japan live alone, and the country has the highest
proportion of people suffering from dementia. With a rapidly declining population, the government faces potential
pension shortfalls and questions about how the nation will care for its longest-living
politicians dominate government, and the Japanese media emphasizes rosy stories
about happily aging fashion gurus or retail accommodations for older customers.
But for Ms. Hayakawa, it was not a stretch to imagine a world in which the
oldest citizens would be cast aside in a bureaucratic process — a strain of
thought she said could already be found in Japan.
is illegal in the country, but it occasionally arises in grisly criminal
contexts. In 2016, a man killed 19 people in their sleep at a center for
people with disabilities outside Tokyo, claiming that such people should be
euthanized because they “have extreme difficulty living at home or being active
horrifying incident provided a seed of an idea for Ms. Hayakawa. “I don’t think
that was an isolated incident or thought process within Japanese society,” she
said. “It was already floating around. I was very afraid that Japan was turning
into a very intolerant society.”
The Times’s Saturday Profiles
Shoji, who has written about film and the arts for The Japan Times and the BBC
and saw an earlier version of “Plan 75,” the movie did not seem dystopian.
“She’s just telling it like it is,” Ms. Shoji said. “She’s telling us: ‘This is
where we’re headed, actually.’”
potential future is all the more believable in a society where some people are
driven to death by overwork, said Yasunori Ando, an associate
professor at Tottori University who studies spirituality and bioethics.
“It is not impossible
to think of a place where euthanasia is accepted,” he said.
Hayakawa has spent the bulk of her adult years contemplating the end of life
from a very personal vantage. When she was 10, she learned that her father had
cancer, and he died a decade later. “That was during my formative years, so I
think it had an influence on my perspective toward art,” she said.
daughter of civil servants, Ms. Hayakawa started drawing her own picture books
and writing poems from a young age. In elementary school, she fell in love with
“Muddy River,” a Japanese drama about a poor
family living on a river barge. The movie, directed by Kohei Oguri, was
nominated for best foreign language film at the
Academy Awards in 1982.
feelings I couldn’t put into words were expressed in that movie,” Ms. Hayakawa
said. “And I thought, I want to make movies like that as well.”
eventually applied to the film program at the School of Visual Arts in New York,
believing that she would get a better grounding in moviemaking in the United
States. But given her modest English abilities, she decided within a week of
arriving on campus to switch to the photography department, because she figured
she could take pictures by herself.
instructors were struck by her curiosity and work ethic. “If I mentioned a film
offhandedly, she would go home and go rent it, and if I mentioned an artist or
exhibition, she would go research it and have something to say about it,” said
Tim Maul, a photographer and one of Ms. Hayakawa’s mentors. “Chie was someone
who really had momentum and a singular drive.”
graduating in 2001, Ms. Hayakawa gave birth to her two children in New York. In
2008, she and her husband, the painter Katsumi Hayakawa, decided to return to Tokyo, where
she began working at WOWOW, a satellite broadcaster, helping to prepare
American films for Japanese viewing.
is that if the government tells you to do something, you must do it,” Ms.
Hayakawa said.Credit...Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times
At 36, she
enrolled in a one-year film program at a night school in Tokyo while continuing
to work during the day. “I felt like I couldn’t put my full energy into child
raising or filmmaking,” she said. Looking back, she said, “I would tell myself
it’s OK, just enjoy raising your children. You can start filmmaking at a later
For her final
project, she made “Niagara,” about a young woman who learns, as she is about to
depart the orphanage where she grew up, that her grandfather had killed her
parents, and that her grandmother, who she thought had died in a car accident
with her parents, was alive.
submitted the movie to the Cannes Film Festival in a category for student works
and was shocked when it was selected for screening in 2014. At the festival,
Ms. Hayakawa met Eiko Mizuno-Gray, a film publicist, who subsequently invited
Ms. Hayakawa to make a short film on the theme of Japan 10 years in the future.
It would be part of an anthology produced by Hirokazu Kore-eda, the celebrated Japanese director.
Hayakawa had already been developing the idea of “Plan 75” as a feature-length
film but decided to make an abridged version for “Ten Years Japan.”
writing the script, she woke up every morning at 4 to watch movies. She cites
the Taiwanese director Edward Yang, the South Korean director Lee Chang-dong and Krzysztof Kieslowski, the Polish art-house director, as
important influences. After work, she would write for a couple of hours at a
cafe while her husband cared for their children — relatively rare in
Japan, where women still carry the
disproportionate burden of housework and child care.
Hayakawa’s 18-minute contribution to the anthology came out, Ms. Mizuno-Gray
and her husband, Jason Gray, worked with her to develop an extended script. By
the time filming started, it was the middle of the pandemic. “There were
countries with Covid where they were not prioritizing the life of the elderly,”
Ms. Hayakawa said. “Reality
surpassed fiction in a way.”
Hayakawa decided to adopt a subtler tone for the feature-length movie and
inject more of a sense of hope. She also added several narrative strands,
including one about an elderly woman and her tightknit group of friends, and
another about a Filipina caregiver who takes a job at one of the euthanasia
included scenes of the Filipino community in Japan, Ms. Hayakawa said, as a
contrast to the dominant culture. “Their culture is that if somebody is in
trouble, you help them right away,” Ms. Hayakawa said. “I think that is
something Japan is losing.”
Stefanie Arianne, the daughter of a Japanese father
and a Filipina mother who plays Maria, the caregiver, said Ms. Hayakawa had
urged her to show emotional restraint. In one scene, Ms. Arianne said, she had the
instinct to shed tears, “but with Chie, she really challenged me to not cry.”
Hayakawa said she did not want to make a film that simply deemed euthanasia
right or wrong. “I think what kind of end to a life and what kind of death you
want is a very personal decision,” she said. “I don’t think it’s something that
is so black or white.”