Writer-director Chie Hayakawa wastes no time in setting up the premise of Plan 75. In the near future, the Japanese economy is under pressure. Young people blame old people for being a drag on the struggling economy. So the government has come up with a program, Plan 75, in which people aged 75 or older agree to be euthanized to do their part to help future generations. In return, they are paid $1,000 to do with whatever they wish. There is even a luxury option and a group plan in which elderly friends can go out together.
The story centers on two old people who are considering the plan and three young people who are employed by Plan 75. The main focus is on 78-year-old Michi, played by Chieko Baisho in an exceptional performance. Michi works as a hotel housekeeper before being fired after an elderly fellow worker collapses on the job. She doesn’t have a family, and she struggles to find a job because of her age. Gradually, she feels more and more superfluous and agrees to sign up for Plan 75.
Hiromu (Hayato Isomura), is an enthusiastic Plan 75 recruiter who enlists Michi. But one day he sees the application of his estranged uncle (Taka Takao), who signed onto Plan 75 the same day he turned 75. Although his uncle didn’t even show up for the funeral of Hiromu’s father, Hiromu contacts his uncle and begins to get to know him.
Yoko (Yuumi Kawai), is a Plan 75 customer-service phone agent whose job it is to speak on the phone regularly with the soon-to-be-dead. One of the people to whom she is assigned is Michi. Phone agents are not allowed to meet Plan 75 customers in person, but when Michi asks for a meeting, Yoko breaks the rules. They talk and even go bowling together. Like Hiromu, Yoko begins to question the morality of what she is doing.
Maria (Stefanie Arianne) is a young Filipino mother working in Japan because, back in the Philippines, her five-year-old daughter needs surgery, and her family lacks the funds to pay for it. From her church, she learns about a better-paying job with Plan 75. Maria’s role is to sort the possessions of the dead that they have brought with them to the “processing center” before being euthanized.
Hayakawa could have ended this film with some version of a happy ending or at least a resolution of the disconnect between young people and senior citizens, but for some of the characters their fates are left undecided.
Plan 75 was inspired by a 17-minute short Hayakawa made in 2018 as part of an anthology film entitled Ten Years Japan.