By Joseph Vazquez
The New York Times showcased an apparent disregard for human life when it chose to legitimize the idea of mass suicide as one “drastic” method to deal with Japan’s aging population.
The Times pushed the extremism of Yale University Assistant Professor of Economics Yusuke Narita, who apparently doesn’t mince words. “‘I feel like the only solution is pretty clear,’” Narita reportedly stated during a 2021 online news program. “‘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.’” The Times propagandized Narita as an academic leaning “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.” Yikes.
Although the leftist newspaper did include criticism of Narita’s positions from detractors, critiques were buried until the 10th paragraph of the story. The Times then undercut those critiques by seemingly legitimizing Narita’s wild position. “Shocking or 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,” The Times spewed. The newspaper cited House of Councillors member Shun Otokita belching that “‘[t]here 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.’”
Narita reportedly told a 2019 panel 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.’” The Times simply characterized Narita’s abject nihilism towards human life as having “pushed the boundaries of taste.” Uh, what?
The newspaper’s headline for the story tried to create nuance around Narita’s views: “A Yale Professor Suggested Mass Suicide for Old People in Japan. What Did He Mean?” The sub-headline was just as bad: “ Yusuke Narita says he is mainly addressing a growing effort to revamp Japan’s age-based hierarchies. Still, he has pushed the country’s hottest button.”
In the fourth paragraph, The Times outlined a situation that made any attempt to justify his Malthusian views seem flat-out ridiculous:
“Last year, when asked by a school-age boy to elaborate on his 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.”
The Times even used Narita’s wild views to normalize the idea of euthanasia: “Some surveys in Japan have indicated that a majority of the public supports legalizing voluntary euthanasia.” However, The Times hedged: “But Mr. Narita’s reference to a mandatory practice spooks ethicists.” Dr. Narita reportedly said in an emailed response to The Times that “‘euthanasia (either voluntary or involuntary) is a complex, nuanced issue.’ ‘I am not advocating its introduction,’ he added. ‘I predict it to be more broadly discussed.’
Editor’s note. This appeared at Newsbusters and is reposted with permission.