A Yale professor in Iron Man glasses has a Thanos-style mass suicide solution for Japan

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadFeb 15, 2023 | 17:21

A Yale professor in Iron Man glasses has a Thanos-style mass suicide solution for Japan

The Japanese Yale Professor's funky glasses and mass suicide theory for aging population. Photo: History.com, Twitter/Narita_Yusuke

A Yale professor from Japan, Yusuke Narita, who wears Tony Stark glasses has a Thanos-style mass suicide solution for Japan's aging population. Narita has been going on various media platforms in Japan propagating his "pretty clear" idea that pushes old people to just kill themselves. 

Who's Yusuke Narita and why are we talking about him? 

  • It is mainly the New York Times that took Narita out of the national/regional attention in Japan and put him in the international spotlight. 
  • Narita, a Yale assistant professor of Economics, has been giving interviews to media in Japan sharing his thoughts on how to solve the country's problem of a rapidly burgeoning aging population. 

Japan has the highest percentage of senior citizens in the world and only last month, Japanese PM Fumio Kishida sounded an alarm over the issue. An aging population directly corresponds to a lack of a young labour force to drive the economy and also pressure on the country's social and medical welfare systems. 

  • Narita floated the theory of mass suicide for the elderly.
I feel like the only solution is pretty clear. In the end, isn't it mass suicide and mass 'seppuku' of the elderly?
- Yusuke Narita to an online Japanese publication in December 2022
  • He was referring to "seppuku" a Samurai practice from the late 19th century where disgraced Samurais would disembowel themselves to save their honour.
  • To another audience, he said that voluntary mass suicide would create the best 'Cool Japan' policy ever: 

While his extreme views on the elderly have gained him celebrity status among Japan's youth who increasingly think the elderly are holding them back from progress, he has also received backlash for propagating mass murder. After the backlash, Narita has walked back on his comments, telling the New York Times that his comments were taken out of context and that he only meant "seppuku" metaphorically and not literally. 


Others have called him an attention seeker, pointing out his funky eyeglasses. 

If you haven't noticed from his picture above, take another look. Most people miss noticing it at the first glance.

  • Yusuke Narita is wearing a pair of asymmetrical glasses, which gives him a more crazy but sophisticated scientist look (that's what we think). 
  • There's no background story for Narita's choice of glasses. But online, people are saying that it's all part of his carefully curated image of a villain. 
  • When it comes to the asymmetrical glasses themselves, they are not unique to Yusuke Narita. 
  • Asymmetry in fashion has been in trend for a while, even in Japan. A 2005 blog on Trends in Japan says this:
Fashion-conscious eyeglass wearers are going wild for designs in which the frame around one lens is of a different height or shape than the frame around the other.
  • In terms of fashion geek, symmetry symbolises industrialisation and mass production, and wearing asymmetrical glasses is going back to more natural handmade but imperfect designs. 
  • Narita is definitely not the first or the last to wear the glasses. Here's Robert Downey Jr sporting square and circle glasses in a video from 2018:

  • Here's a Namibian-German artist Max Siedentopf wearing asymmetrical glasses. 

  • Comments online have drawn references to Spider Jerusalem, the fictional protagonist of the comic book Transmetropolitan. His character is a drug-addicted, foul-mouthed, troubled, but brilliant journalist who hates authority, political corruption, and dogs. 

Regardless of Narita's glasses, Japan's relationship with its aging population is getting complicated. Traditionally, Japan has always respected its elderly, like most Asian societies. But in recent times, a population dilemma has led to people making comments such as "hurry up and die" (former Finance Minister Taro Aso in 2013).

Japan even has a dystopian movie called Plan 75 where elderly people are offered incentives to self-euthanise. 

Japan has a history of mass suicides mostly relating to World War II, including the Kamikaze pilots. And a record of human rights violating laws such as the Eugenics law in 1948 (now outlawed) that mandatorily sterilised people with various disorders to keep their "inferior" contributions out of the Japanese gene pool.

Last updated: February 15, 2023 | 17:21
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