Japan's deputy prime minister has apologised after suggesting old people should "hurry up and die" to save the cost of caring for them.
Taro Aso (72), who was speaking at a meeting of the National Council on Social Security Reforms, said patients with serious illnesses were "tube persons" and they should be "allowed to die quickly" if they wanted to.
"Heaven forbid I should be kept alive if I want to die," he said. "You can't sleep well when you think it's paid by the government. This won't be solved unless you let them hurry up and die."
Mr Aso was renowned for his asides during a brief stint as prime minister in 2009, when he told students that young people should not get married because they were too poor and not worthy of respect from a life partner. (© Daily Telegraph, London)