Celebrated actress Chieko Baishô plays an elderly woman who signs up for a government initiative encouraging senior citizens to be voluntarily euthanised to counter the challenges of a super-aged society.
Plan 75 is a Japanese film which paints a plausible vision in the near future of mass, state-administered euthanasia. In the extract the concept looks highly plausible. Funny that. That it should look plausible. Perhaps it just looks plausible to me but if it looks plausible to other people then humankind has a problem. And the problem is that we realise we can’t go on increasing in numbers although to try and restrict numbers is social engineering and China tried to do that without success.
I think a lot of people would voluntarily choose communal euthanasia as provided by the local authority if the option was available to them. I don’t see anything particularly wrong with it as long as there are checks and balances to protect vulnerable people.
The concept impacts nature and wildlife. The relationship between humankind, wild animals and nature is not a good one. There is a gradual destruction of nature’s wildlife. This is very apparent in the UK for instance with a gradual deterioration, in general terms, of wild flora and fauna.
The underlying cause is a relentlessly increasing human population squeezing out habitat, the landscape in which wild animals live because of increased settlements to house more people. The more people there are the more human activity there is including commercial activity. Commercial activity inevitably damages wildlife.
I’m generalising because sometimes commercial activity can be sensitive to wildlife but that’s expensive and commercial enterprises don’t like to spend money on stuff like protecting nature.
The concept of mass, communal euthanasia is supported by the fact that the ageing population of most countries particularly in the West perhaps is a drag on the economy of those countries.
Old people hog housing resources. You get one person living in a big house. You get a lot of young people who’d simply can’t get on the housing ladder. They are living with their parents until their 35.
Old people clog up the hospitals. Regrettably, I have to visit a local hospital quite a lot not because I am ill but because a person that I know is ill and ends up there quite a lot. And I see a lot of old, dying people in the wards. The whole place is clogged up with dying elderly people. A lot of them can’t get out of the place to go to a hospice or a care home because there is no room for them.
In the film, this dire situation is relieved when the government launches a scheme to provide state administered euthanasia for anyone over the age of 75.
Signees receive £1000 to enable them to enjoy their last days in comfort. A group of friends or a couple can apply together. There is a 24-hour helpline. The staff are very kind and helpful. They guide applicants through the process. It is painless and pleasant and compassionate. You can change your mind whenever you want.
In Japan life expectancy is rising relentlessly. And fertility rates are falling. The population is ageing. Janice Turner’s opinion piece in The Times gave me the idea to write this. She says the film is shocking. It’s not shocking to me. It kind of makes sense. Although it is highly practical it does tend to treat humans as non-human which is perhaps the shocking aspect of the film.
Could it come about? The current Japanese Prime Minister has remarked that his country’s demographics put it “on the verge of whether we can continue to function as a society”. That points to the plausibility of the content of this film.
And in the UK, the NHS is creaking and has done so for years. It needs a complete rebuild from top to bottom. The idea of free healthcare at the point of delivery simply cannot work in 2023 as it did when the NHS was first created. Things have changed too much.
The Dutch seem to be ahead of the game on selective euthanasia. In 2010 a Dutch petition demanded that anyone over 70 should be entitled to euthanasia if “they consider their lives complete”. 100,000 people signed the petition but it did not become law.
Janice Turner hints at the plausibility of this dystopian vision of the future. Perhaps the near future. From my point of view, as mentioned, there would be a beneficial spin-off the nature. Perhaps, too, it would help resolve the climate change problem. Less people, less carbon dioxide being chucked into the atmosphere because of less activity.
This by the way points to the need for sustainability and to ditch the idea of continual economic growth. Economic growth destroys the planet. We need to have a stable economy which is neither decreasing or increasing. And the population should also be stable and neither increase or decrease.
Janice Turner says that the film has one uplifting lesson. She says that the young people who administer the scheme “don’t hate the elderly, they just don’t see them as truly human. Only when they happen to meet and forge the special bond between old and young do they see the horror of their work.” That appears to be the message. But it is a subjective one. It is a horror vision?
As I’ve said above the idea is not really human but then a lot of stuff that humans get up to is not really human either. Perhaps I should correct that because although the vast majority of humans are decent people trying to improve themselves and their lives, a significant minority do a lot of damage to society. Perhaps state-administered euthanasia is all that humans deserve.