The film begins with an adorable image of a baby, and as the woman smiles and says, “We can’t choose when we are born, so it would be nice if we could choose when we die,”. “Plan 75” is available free of charge to anyone over the age of 75. “Plan 75” has been passed by the Diet and is expected to be a solution to Japan’s aging problem. We shudder at these scenes unfolding as if they were real.
The future of Japan as it really is.
The plan depicted in the film is a national system that allows people over 75 years old to die peacefully with the support of the government if they wish to do so. In the middle of the story, 78-year-old Michi Kakutani, a woman played by Chieko Baisho, comes to a dead end in her life and decides to use this system.
The film “PLAN 75” which depicts such a near future, was released in theaters on June 17. The film has already caused a big stir. The film was officially entered in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes International Film Festival. It has been receiving great comments overseas as well. The director and screenwriter, Chie Hayakawa, responded to some questions.
What urged you to decide to make a film like this?
“I feel that this country is cold toward the elderly and people with disabilities. And now, with the progress of reproductive medicine research, I feel that there is an illusion that we humans can control all the issues related to life and death. I feel that matters of life and death are spoken of in very light terms. But I think that is not the case.”
I can imagine how difficult it would be for someone like Michi, who has no relatives and no money, to live, and to wonder why she is living at all.
“I would like to see a society where people who say they want to die are not offered an easy way to die, but rather a society where people can say, “Let’s find a way to live together.””
“Plan 75” is the future of a “self-responsible” society.
There are people suffering from hunger in the world. Some countries are caught up in conflicts. Why do we feel so anxious about Japan, a country that is supposed to be peaceful and prosperous?
“I think it is because there is a prevailing atmosphere of ‘self-responsibility’ throughout society. There is a welfare system for people in financial need, but it is difficult for them to receive it, and the government and society are always saying, ‘You have to take care of it yourself. I feel that the government and society are constantly sending out the message, “You are on your own”. I feel that if this situation continues, it would not be surprising if a “Plan 75” system is established.”
In the story, there is a scene in which a Filipino woman who has come to Japan to work raises money at a church where Filipinos gather to pay for medical treatment for her child.
“I wanted to portray them as a contrast to Japan, where people are expected to take care of things on their own.”
In the film, we also hear the news that the Diet is considering a “Plan 65,” which would require people to make a choice between life and death at the age of 65. A society that increasingly devalues the weak. This may be the reality in Japan.
When the film was screened at the Cannes International Film Festival, foreign journalists commented, “It is unbelievable that such a system is allowed,” and “But the fact that there are no objections to this is typical of Japan.”
I want people to choose to live by their own will.
While dealing with a heavy theme, the story proceeds in a lighthearted manner. There are no explanatory lines, and no one is loudly angry or aggressive.
The shadows of the images are impressive. The sunset scene of the mountainsides turning red, Michi’s slender hand reaching out from the bed in the morning sunlight. There are many beautiful scenes.
“I love the scene at the bowling alley, where Michi briefly interacts with the young people and shares her joy with them.”
Old age, poverty, and loneliness. The film carefully depicts a variety of real-life issues, such as people lining up at soup kitchens, the bleak rooms of people living alone, and the art of elimination on park benches.
“It is up to the viewer to decide how he or she wants to take it. I believe that the film is completed by the people who see it after it leaves my hands.”
“At the preview screening, we heard a wide range of impressions from both young and old people. Not a few said they would use “Plan 75” if it were real.”
“Personally, I would not use it. Because I am afraid of dying. I don’t have the courage to choose my own death,” she added.
“I think that it’s a very good idea and it’s very natural to choose to live by your own will.”
Director Hayakawa then said firmly that she doesn’t want her life to end yet,
“I don’t want to die yet. I want to live long and continue making films.”
Interview and text by： Izumi Nakagawa