Deputy PM Taro Aso apologizes after blaming childless for rising social security costs and graying population

Kyodo, AP, Staff Report

Taro Aso has found himself in hot water again — this time for apparently blaming childless couples for not having babies.

Aso quickly — and reluctantly — apologized Tuesday, two days after saying childless people are to blame for the country’s rising social security costs and its aging and declining population.

“If it made some people feel uncomfortable, I apologize,” Aso, 78, said after drawing complaints over the comments he made Sunday before voters at a seminar in his home electoral district of Fukuoka Prefecture.

During his speech, the outspoken finance minister and deputy prime minister pointed out that the longevity of Japanese people has increased by about 30 years compared with the 1940s when he was born.

Then he touched on Japan’s snowballing social security costs and said, “We have so many nuts out there blaming elderly people” for causing the present situation. “That’s wrong.”

He continued, “The problem is with those who didn’t give birth.”

On Monday, Aso told reporters he would retract the remark “if it caused misunderstanding.” He didn’t elaborate on what it was that he had intended to say.

During a news conference, also Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga emphasized that the government is doing its utmost to address issues regarding the nation’s graying society coupled with low birthrates.

Aso made a similar remark in 2014, and was eventually forced to admit that his comment had been improper.