Mitt Romney became renown as one of America's most gaffe prone politician - his verbal slip ups were usually more funny than anything else, and only on occasion were they offensive. Romney's biggest misstep was referring to 47% of the nation as welfare scroungers - a pretty awful gaffe that likely cost Romney the election.
But in comparison to Taro Aso, Japan's new finance minister, Romney looks not only sympathetic, but positively Churchillian in his command of language. In a series of mind bogglingly offensive gaffes that look near suicidal from a professional point of view, Aso told the public that given how burdensome they were on the state from a financial point of view, the elderly should "hurry up and die". From the Guardian:
Taro Aso, the finance minister, said on Monday that the elderly should be allowed to "hurry up and die" to relieve pressure on the state to pay for their medical care.
"Heaven forbid if you are forced to live on when you want to die. I would wake up feeling increasingly bad knowing that [treatment] was all being paid for by the government," he said during a meeting of the national council on social security reforms. "The problem won't be solved unless you let them hurry up and die."
Aso also referred to people unable to feed themselves as "tube people" and made disparaging remarks about doctors, the unemployed, and even alzheimer's patients. Given 1 in 4 people in Japan are over 65, Aso's comments are spectacularly ill judged and could well help undo the new government under Shinzo Abe that collapsed in 2007 from a similar series of gaffes from cabinet members. Aso himself is 72 years old, making his comments all the more bizarre. And given he could be out of a job in the near future, he may very well find his words coming back to haunt him.