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    Yale Professor Sparks Controversy With Suggestion of Mass Suicide and Ritual Disembowelment as Solution to Japan’s Aging Population Problem


    Yusuke Narita, an assistant professor of economics at Yale University, has sparked controversy after suggesting the best way for Japan to deal with its rapidly aging population is with mass suicide and ritual disembowelment.[0]

    In a 2021 interview with an online Japanese news program, Narita stated, “I feel like the only solution is pretty clear. In the end, isn’t it mass suicide and mass ‘seppuku’ of the elderly?”[1] Seppuku is an ancient Japanese suicide custom originating among samurai, in which one disembowels oneself.[2]

    Narita told the New York Times he was “primarily concerned with the phenomenon in Japan, where the same tycoons continue to dominate the worlds of political, traditional industries, and media/entertainment/journalism for many years”.[0] He also expressed the need to remove more senior figures in government and economic leadership roles, in order to pave the way for the next generation to take the reins.

    Last year alone, Japan's population decreased by more than 600,000 people, representing a major decline over the past generation.[3] Many sociologists deem that a fertility rate of 2.1 is necessary to maintain a nation's population, however the fertility rate of the country is currently at 1.3, considerably lower than the desired amount.[3]

    Narita has also suggested that euthanasia could be made compulsory, claiming this would allow younger generations to make their way in business, politics and other aspects of society that the older generation refuses to leave.[4]

    He told the New York Times he “should have been more careful” about the negative connotations his words had and said, “after some self-reflection, I stopped using the words last year.”[2]

    Social media users blasted a New York Times report that promoted Narita’s claim of mass suicide, with Masaki Kubota, a journalist, describing the remarks as irresponsible and saying people may think, “Oh, my grandparents are the ones who are living longer, and we should just get rid of them.”[5]

    Though Narita maintains his words have been taken out context, he does stress the need to remove more of the senior figures in government and economic leadership roles to pave the way for the next generation to take the reins. It is more challenging to determine whether this is a positive or negative occurrence.[6]

    0. “Professor says the ‘only solution' to Japan's population problem is suicide” indy100, 13 Feb. 2023,

    1. “Yale academic suggests mass suicide for Japan's old people: NYT” Business Insider, 13 Feb. 2023,

    2. “Yale professor suggests ‘mass suicide' to solve Japan's aging population: ‘I'd like a second opinion'” Fox News, 13 Feb. 2023,

    3. “Yale professor poses ‘mass suicide' solution for Japan's aging population” FISM TV, 13 Feb. 2023,

    4. “Who is Yusuke Narita? Yale professor sparks outrage after proposing ‘mass suicide’ of elderly people” Sportskeeda, 13 Feb. 2023,

    5. “Old people should embrace ‘mass suicide', says Yale professor” The Telegraph, 12 Feb. 2023,

    6. “”The only solution is pretty clear” – Controversial Yale Professor Pitches Idea of Mass Suicide for the Elderly in Japan …” NewsBreak Original, 12 Feb. 2023,

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