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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he wants to create guidelines on death with dignity for terminally ill patients.

Abe eyes ‘death with dignity’ guidelines not tied to medical costs

JIJI

“I would like to create a system that would allow people to end their lives with dignity and doctors to respond to such requests,” he said Wednesday in an Upper House Budget Committee meeting. “It is important not to link the issue with medical costs.”

Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as finance minister, said in January that using taxpayer money for life-prolonging treatments “would leave me with a bad aftertaste.” He later retracted his remark.

Satoshi Umemura, a doctor and a member of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, welcomed the new tack from Abe.

“Although Aso’s remark was offensive and it was inappropriate for him to speak about terminal care in terms of money, it is important to hold a national debate on the issue,” Umemura said during the committee session.