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7/6(Sat) The Bill to Terminate Life at 70 (Host: Stephen)

發表於 : 週一 6月 24, 2019 8:03 pm
The Bill to Terminate Life at 70
(Please finish listening to the 9-min audio clip listed at the end of this article before coming to the meeting.)

Have you ever given blessing to the elderly at their birthday parties by saying ”May you live to 100” or “May your longevity match that of the Southern Mountain”? Most of us probably would agree that living long is nice as long as we are healthy and wealthy or at least financially secure. However, it may not be a blessing for a country if most of its citizens are grey-haired. In Japan, the average life expectancy is 84.2 years, the highest in the world in 2018. Rather than celebrating this achievement, Japan is actually suffering from it with around 30% of the population older than 65, which brings an unbearable monetary burden to its pension system.

To rescue its pension system, the Japanese government is planning to enforce a law that requests the elders to end their lives through euthanasia when they turn 70. For those who are already older than 70 at the time of the enforcement, the execution may be delayed up to two years. It is estimated that with the enforcement of this “Death Bill”, the population will reduce by 22 million the first year and by 1.5 million on average each year afterwards, which could relieve the government from financial difficulty caused by huge welfare spending on those senior citizens. In addition, it is expected that the elderly would spend their savings more willingly, realizing that they do not have many years to live, which in turn will help revive Japan’s economy.

While some are against this law, criticizing its violating human rights and breaching social ethics, those stressed out under heavy parent-caring burden and the young generation resentful of the elderly’s collapsing the pension system are firm advocates. At the same time, a rumor about an “Underground Bill” is spreading out, which says that if senior citizens relinquish the pension, stop receiving the public medical services and volunteer for some tasks to prove their capabilities of contributing to society, they can then be exempt from being euthanized.

The previous paragraphs tell a scenario conceived in a novel, “The Bill of Life Termination at 70, Passed!” (70 SAI SHIBOU HOUAN,KAKETSU), written by Kakiya Miu, who was born in Hyogoken, Japan in 1959. In her book, the main character, Toyoko Takarada, a 55-year-old housewife, has been taking care of her 84-year-old physically challenged yet snarky mother-in-law, Kikuno, for 13 years. Without any help from her selfish husband, indifferent married sisters-in-law, jobless otaku son and runaway daughter, Toyoko shoulders the duty of the caring task by herself alone flavored with Kikuno’s verbal torturing all the time. For the past few years, she has never stopped wishing her mother-in-law would die sooner. With the implementation of this law, Toyoko’s wish may now come true in two years. In fact, almost everyone is counting how many years left to be alive. Many elderly people cease to save money since they already own more than enough for spending in their limited life time because of the bill. Some people aged around 60 just quit their jobs and spend the remaining life span to pursue whatever they desire for a long time.

On the other hand, the author also reveals the perspective of the disabled elderly through the mother-in-law:
“I did not realize that loneliness can be so painful…It’s like being trapped on a desert island.” said Kikuno Takarada when she stared at the ceiling of her room, lying on the nursing bed after being fed with some porridge for lunch. Her parents died many years ago. All of her siblings and her husband had passed away as well. “My husband is waiting for me in heaven.” “There are only two years left anyway, what’s the meaning to keep living like this?”
“I will die sooner or later. As compared with being euthanized in two years, it doesn’t matter much if the execution is scheduled for tomorrow.”
Thoughts like these linger in Kikuno’s mind all the time. However, she still couldn’t help feeling frightened when thinking of facing the Death for real.

The novel vividly illustrates a “caring hell” in which the family’s primary caregivers are burnt out because of the caring burden while the disabled elderly suffer from the emotional solitude and a life without hope.

Although the life termination bill is just a fiction, it triggered not only the debate on the justification of such kind of law among Japanese readers but also extensive discussions of various aspects, such as “over loading on family’s primary caregiver”, “Importance of nursing care profession”, and “the meaning of life for disabled elderly”, etc.

Turning our sights back to Taiwan, the elderly, aged 65 and over by definition, will likely reach to 20% of the population by 2025 from a ratio of 13% in 2015 according to the National Development Council. Taiwan is as well experiencing aging population and low fertility like Japan. In fact, our country has the lowest fertility rate in the world at 1.218 children per woman based on a recent report by the World Population Review. With the sharply increasing elderly number and fewer and fewer people depositing into the labor pension account, Taiwan’s pension system is facing a financial time bomb. Not to mention the Long-Term Care Act 2.0 introduced in 2017, which allows more comprehensive and accessible subsidies for LTC services compared with the previous version. All of these will undoubtedly speed up the ticking of the time bombs of our pension and welfare systems.

Despite the fact that most of the YoYo members are in your 20s or 30s, I believe many of you have grandparents or closely attached relatives who are over 65 and retired. Almost every family has to face the issue of long-term care in the future if not in the near one. It is not suggested that we should push for enactment of a life-termination bill of any kind, but it definitely deserves some good discussions on what kind of care we desire for in our old age and how can we help ourselves and our loved ones age well.

To learn more:
1. Book brief (I) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-TW78bUuWo ) (audio clip, 9 min.)
2. Selected excerption of the book (https://www.thenewslens.com/article/111692)
3. “Die for your country, the Super-Aged Society of Japan.” (https://www.upmedia.mg/news_info.php?SerialNo=57320)
4. Talk from the book editor at Radio Taiwan International (https://www.rti.org.tw/radio/programMes ... /id/103653) (Audio clip, 1 hour, interview starting from 1:43)
5. Long-Term Care for Taiwan’s Elderly (https://topics.amcham.com.tw/2017/03/ca ... s-elderly/ )

Session I
1. Please translate the book’s title “70歲死亡法案,通過” into English and share it with your group members. Work together to come up with one that your group thinks the most appropriate.
2. What do you think of the life-termination bill (LTB) proposed in the novel? Would you agree with it if the “Underground Bill” is taken as a complementary measure?
3. Patient Autonomy Act(1)(PAA) went into effect in January this year in Taiwan. What do you think if the act is made mandatory so that the medical treatment must be terminated for those complied with the conditions listed in PAA to help reduce the expenditure of National Health Insurance and release the families from caring burdens?
Note (1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_cont ... azywt1oXW0 (1-min video clip)

Session II
4. Senior man sitting on a wheelchair with a foreign caregiver has become a common sight in Taiwan. Does it provoke any thoughts in you? Have you ever seen any scenes that left a deep impression on you?
5. Depending on the degree of care needed, the elderly may choose to live in a nursing home, a long-term care center or a senior center(2). Have you ever visited any one of them? If yes, how do you feel about the environment/atmosphere there? Do you have ideas about the expense? (Please try to google for it, if you don’t. You may need it someday. Some care institutes for your reference: 雙連安養中心、悠然山莊安養中心、聖若瑟失智老人安養中心)
Note (2): https://www.ilong-termcare.com/Article/Detail/93
6. Assuming you were disabled in your old age, would you prefer staying at a well-run nursing center or living at home taken care by your family if there is no financial concern?
7. At what age would you prefer to die? why? (Optional question)

3:50 ~ 4:00pm Greetings & Free Talk / Ordering Beverage or Meal / Getting Newcomer’s Information
4:00 ~ 4:20pm Opening Remarks / Newcomer’s Self-introduction / Grouping
(Session I)
4:20 ~ 5:00pm Discussion Session (40 mins)
5:00 ~ 5:20pm Summarization (20 mins)
5:20 ~ 5:30pm Regrouping / Instruction Giving / Taking a 10 Minutes Break (Intermission)
(Session II)
5:30~ 6:10pm Discussion Session (40 mins)
6:10~ 6:30pm Summarization / Concluding Remarks / Announcements(20 mins)
聚會時間:當天請準時於 16:00 pm 到達 ~ 約 18:30 pm 左右結束
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捷運站:板南線 忠孝新生站 3 號出口
走法:出忠孝新生站 3 號出口後,沿著巷子(忠孝東路三段10巷)走約 2 分鐘,到了濟南路口,左轉走約 2 分鐘即可看到。
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Re: 7/6(Sat) The Bill to Terminate Life at 70 (Host: Stephen

發表於 : 週五 7月 05, 2019 8:41 am
Foreign Caregivers:




Re: 7/6(Sat) The Bill to Terminate Life at 70 (Host: Stephen

發表於 : 週五 7月 05, 2019 9:46 am
Iris Wu
The novel was published last year in Japan, and the Chinese version was out in December, but there is still no English edition or at least, we could not find it anywhere from Google search. Hats off to our host for the excellent write-up!

Aging is the one thing that impacts every facet of an individual life, family, society and even a whole country. Many philosophical questions could be delved into:
• What constitutes life?
• What is a meaningful life?
• Do we get to choose the way of living that we want to sustain?
• How much is the ethical requirement/boundary for a family to care for their elderly relatives?

The ugly truth is that aging is always not graceful. What is human dignity? When a person becomes completely physically dependent on others or mentally “stuck” in the past and cannot interact with others, how much patience do you have to take care of them in reality? Switching positions from another angle, if you were the one lay dying there, but the “Death God” somehow forgot you and let you hang in there for years, what would you think/do?

From the big picture of a whole country, the shifting to a super-aged society is very costly, but the imagination/fiction of an act to terminate all the elderly in the whole country probably only exists in Japan (or Arab countries), and that’s maybe why the novel still does not have an English edition. “Die for your country because you are old and useless” is probably a novel idea for Americans, very alien!

In reality, Americans life span is much shorter than that of Japan and Taiwan. You can argue it’s because of their dietary habits, but I'd like to point out one fact that there are no comparable elderly care and supporting systems there and some people choose not to do any aggressive treatments to extend “life without quality”. I often think about this “alternative”, but I don’t know when time comes, would we have the courage to do so?

Re: 7/6(Sat) The Bill to Terminate Life at 70 (Host: Stephen

發表於 : 週六 7月 06, 2019 1:23 am
I always think if I can live up to the age of 70, I would be satisfied, because I have some bad life habits, so it is very likely that I may have some sort of cancer, and 70 years old is good enough for me.

However, when the day of my dying around 70 comes, would my mind be strong enough to peacefully face it? I am not so sure.

Re: 7/6(Sat) The Bill to Terminate Life at 70 (Host: Stephen

發表於 : 週六 7月 06, 2019 5:31 am
“I hope to die at 75...By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make.”

“A simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.”

(The above is excerpted from “Why I hope to die at 75”-Ezekiel J. Emanuel https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... 75/379329/ )

Re: 7/6(Sat) The Bill to Terminate Life at 70 (Host: Stephen

發表於 : 週六 7月 06, 2019 11:34 am
It may sound blunt, but I often feel that contemporary political systems are not designed for social just and equality. They, in the best case, work only to enhance the majority’s well-being. That is the reason nuclear waste is dumped at the Green Island and landfills most likely locate in the rural areas, not in the middle of any metropolises.

Though the mandatory euthanasia bill may sound unthinkable now, it won't surprise me to see growing advocacy for it as years goes by, particularly after a country’s pension systems are on the cusp of breakdown and the lion’s share of the population is going to get in a bind.

In a super-aged country, where the elderly has exceeded 30% of the population and there has been no sign of slowing down its aging pace, who is the majority? The elderly and the quasi-elderly! They would enjoy dominating voting power in determining the country’s social welfare policy.

Given the fact that it is against human nature to support any reforms at the expense of our own interests, this generation deprivation will continue until the systems can no longer sustain. The meltdown of social pension and insurance plans will endanger interests of the whole retired population. That will be the moment when some of the radical, even controversial, reforms like the mandatory euthanasia bill start to take off.

We are painting ourselves into a corner. The clock is ticking!

Re: 7/6(Sat) The Bill to Terminate Life at 70 (Host: Stephen

發表於 : 週日 7月 07, 2019 9:24 am
Gloria, Catherine, Apple, Antonio, Kooper, Debby, Jerry, Christine, Carrie, Iris, David Jr., Lotus(new comer), Steve, Leon, Julian, Tim, Rosie, Holly, Light, Stephen(host).

Thanks to all the attendees for being brave enough to come to a meeting with such a serious topic.
I hope you found the meeting not as grave as you expected and had some takeaways.

The link to the song played at the end of the meeting is given below for your reference:
“Love, Me” -Collin Raye
-If you get there before I do. ( https://youtu.be/jK-0vfsFzB4 )

I read a note my grandma wrote back in 1923
Grandpa kept it in his coat, and he showed it once to me
He said, "Boy, you might not understand
But a long, long time ago
Grandma's daddy didn't like me none
But I loved your grandma so"
We had this crazy plan to meet and run away together
Get married in the first town we came to, and live forever
But nailed to the tree where we were supposed to meet instead
I found this letter, and this is what it said
If you get there before I do, don't give up on me
I'll meet you when my chores are through
I don't know how long I'll be
But I'm not gonna let you down, darling wait and see
And between now and then, 'til I see you again
I'll be loving you
Love, me

I read those words just hours before
My grandma passed away
In the doorway of a church
Where me and grandpa stopped to pray
I know I'd never seen him cry in all my fifteen years
But as he said these words to her
His eyes filled up with tears
If you get there before I do, don't give up on me
I'll meet you when my chores are through
I don't know how long I'll be
But I'm not gonna let you down, darling wait and see
And between now and then, 'til I see you again
I'll be loving you
Love, me
Between now and then, 'til I see you again
I'll be loving you
Love, me