'The Yasukuni sore spot boils up again'

News came at the beginning of the month that screenings of the movie “Yasukuni” had been cancelled in several locations throughout Tokyo. The film, which the Mainichi calls “a Chinese director's controversial documentary about Yasukuni Shrine,” was scheduled to be shown on April 12, but came under fire after conservative government officials raised objection towards the film, and fear amongst theater management grew regarding protests from right-wingers. And as if the controversy of a Chinese national creating a film about a Japanese war shrine wasn’t interesting enough, the production was funded in part by money from Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs.

Reports of the controversy are varied, with different publications in both English and Japanese giving different reports. Various news sources, in both languages, have printed that, “A group of about 40 lawmakers from the conservative Liberal Democratic Party had requested for a preview of the film because they feared the documentary could have ‘distorted content.’” (Reuters)

Japanese rightistsJapanese rightists doing what they do bestThe leader of these conservatives was reportedly Tomomi Inada, LDP member, historical revisionist, and right-wing webcaster. However, in a letter in MSN Sankei News, Inada criticizes the Asahi for incorrectly reporting that she had requested a preview of the film, and even went as far as asking the newspaper to publish a correction (they haven’t). She claims that several LDP members of the Diet and herself had requested a screening at the Agency of Cultural Affairs because of their concern about how money from a government grant was being used. Her defense comes too little to late, however, as word of this requested preview, and its subsequent refusal, due to Inada’s objection of the film is all over English reports of the issue.

Currently, a number of theaters, including four theaters outside of Tokyo in such remote locations as Akita and Aomori Prefectures, have taken the initiative to screen the film.

We have to wonder what exactly is going through the minds of those who are protesting the content of the movie and demanding it be prohibited; isn’t this behavior—government-controlled censorship—suspiciously similar to that of the country just across the sea that many conservatives feel is using the film as propaganda?


Other posts by Sarah:

Comments

Interesting. I thought it was just the foreign media that get excited about the Yasukuni issue. How is this being reported in Japan?

The Japanese media isn't so much excited about the Yasukuni issue this time as they are about the government's reaction to the controversy, I think. The media here seems to be a bit drier than the English publications, generally rather short and not a lot of in-depth reporting (but so what else is new?!). English reports on the topic tend to speak a lot more about those who made the movie and their feelings behind it.

>government-controlled censorship
While Tomomi Inada's behavior is silly, this is not the goverment-controlled censorship. All the newspapers criticize the reaction of theater managers and the left-leaning newspapers criticize inada personally. All the TV channels defend the film, as long as I see.

>Currently, a number of theaters, including four theaters outside of Tokyo in such remote locations as Akita and Aomori Prefectures, have taken the initiative to screen the film.
More than 20 theaters will screen the film and I believe this number will grow. The idiot uyokus contribute to advertise the film.

>I thought it was just the foreign media that get excited about the Yasukuni issue.
People are simply tired of ideological issues and want politics to focus on substanticial reforming agendas. Foreign media tend to seek something ideological in Japan and pick up unimportant news for more than 90% japanese.

I disagree with these responses. The Japanese media and people are very much interested in Yasukuni. It has long been an emotional issue. It may seem that it is underplayed, but that is largely because there is little explaining to do in Japanese reporting--everybody knows the issues and the "usual suspects" on both sides need no introduction either.

As for the hypocracy of attempting to "censor" a PRC take on Japan's war record--this too is a long-running saga. A Chinese Nanjing film was likewise suppressed by rightists a few years back, and there have been other cases. But Japan is not alone in this inability to accept foreign criticism over the war. In the US, it remains very difficult to publish or screen anything critical on the subject of Hiroshima (I have translated material on this subject and know this from direct contact with the publisher).

business