“Unbroken” Controversy, the “Unfortunate” Xenophobic Japan Refusal to Face Its History – 12/14/2014

or Your Entertainment (FYE)

“Angelina Jolie’s new movie “Unbroken” has not been released in Japan yet, but it has already struck a nerve in a country still fighting over its wartime past.
And the buzz on social networks and in online chatter is decidedly negative over the film that depicts a U.S. Olympic runner who endures torture at a World War II prisoner-of-war camp.
Some people are calling for a boycott of the movie, although there is no release date in Japan yet. It hits theaters in the U.S. on Dec 25.
Others want that ban extended to Jolie, the director — unusual in a nation enamored with Hollywood, especially Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt, who both have reputations as Japan-lovers.
The movie follows the real-life story of Louis Zamperini as told in a 2010 book by Laura Hillenbrand. The book has not been translated into Japanese, but online trailers have provoked outrage.
Especially provocative is a passage in the book that refers to cannibalism among the troops. It is not clear how much of that will be in the movie, but that is too much for some.
“But there was absolutely no cannibalism,” said Mutsuhiro Takeuchi, a nationalist-leaning educator and a priest in the traditional Shinto religion. “That is not our custom.”
Takeuchi acknowledged Jolie is free to make whatever movie she wants, stressing that Shinto believes in forgive-and-forget.
But he urged Jolie to study history, saying executed war criminals were charged with political crimes, not torture.
“Even Japanese don’t know their own history, so misunderstandings arise,” said Takeuchi, who heads his research organization, the Japan Culture Intelligence Association.
Hollywood films that touch on sensitive topics for the Japanese have had a troubled history here.
Theaters canceled screenings of the Oscar-winning 2009 “The Cove” about the bloody dolphin hunts in the town of Taiji after the distributor was deluged with threats from people who said the movie denigrated the “culture” of eating dolphins although most Japanese have never eaten dolphin or whale meat.
Roland Kelts, a journalist and expert on Japanese culture, called the outburst over “Unbroken,” like the frenzy over “The Cove,” ‘‘banal and predictable.”
“None of them have even seen the film, and while it is based on one man’s story, it’s a feature, not a documentary. There are plenty of movies that depict the brutality and inhumanity of war,” he said.
“Unbroken” portrays the story of war hero Zamperini, played by Jack O’Connell, who with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a plane crash, only to be caught by the Japanese and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
Jolie said recently on a promotion tour in Australia that she wanted to depict a human story, one that gives hope, noting that war “brings out the extremes,” both the good and the bad, in people.
Japan has not always been averse to Hollywood portrayals of World War II.
Clint Eastwood’s 2006 “Letters From Iwo Jima,” which focused sympathetically on a gentle commander, played by Ken Watanabe, was favorably received here.
Japanese directors have made their share of movies critical of war. Akira Kurosawa made “No Regrets for Our Youth,” as well as “Ran” and “Seven Samurai.” Kihachi Okamoto’s “The Human Bullet” and Kon Ichikawa’s “The Burmese Harp” relay powerful anti-war messages.
But the release of “Unbroken” comes at a time some in Japan are downplaying the country’s colonization of its Asian neighbors and the aggressive act carried out by the Imperialist Army during World War II.
For example, some politicians dispute the role of Japanese soldiers in the Rape of Nanjing, which began in 1937, in which 300,000 Chinese were killed. They say that is a vast overcount.
Similarly, they reject historical studies that show women from several Asian countries, especially Korea, were forced into prostitution by the Japanese military. ”
__

Online: “Unbroken” http://www.unbrokenfilmintl.com/ww/ 

“Unfortunately war denial is a part of the Japanese repertoire when it comes to history. Whatever glorifies their history, they love to accept and whatever makes them appear the opposite is quickly denied, but to some extent. But i do think we are all guilty of that to some extent. I am sure that shintoist priest is guilty of that, but here is something that is in Wikipedia. Believe it or not. It all REALLY depends on what you would like to believe. Most of it comes down to what you really want to believe. I am not sure if it is true or not. Should it be dismissed? If a General’s supplies are cut off does he turn to cannibalism to survive? I have no idea. But if you are in war and have seen all kinds of hell and want to survive, it does seem like the most likely alternative. Anyway, here is what was written in Wikipedia.”
 

“Many written reports and testimonies collected by the Australian War Crimes Section of the Tokyo tribunal, and investigated by prosecutor William Webb (the future Judge-in-Chief), indicate that Japanese personnel in many parts of Asia and the Pacific committed acts of cannibalism against Allied prisoners of war. In many cases this was inspired by ever-increasing Allied attacks on Japanese supply lines, and the death and illness of Japanese personnel as a result of hunger. According to historian Yuki Tanaka: “cannibalism was often a systematic activity conducted by whole squads and under the command of officers”.[105] This frequently involved murder for the purpose of securing bodies. For example, an Indian POW, Havildar Changdi Ram, testified that: “[on November 12, 1944] the Kempeitai beheaded [an Allied] pilot. I saw this from behind a tree and watched some of the Japanese cut flesh from his arms, legs, hips, buttocks and carry it off to their quarters … They cut it [into] small pieces and fried it.”[106]
In some cases, flesh was cut from living people: another Indian POW, Lance Naik Hatam Ali (later a citizen of Pakistan), testified in New Guinea and stated:
“… the Japanese started selecting prisoners and every day one prisoner was taken out and killed and eaten by the soldiers. I personally saw this happen and about 100 prisoners were eaten at this place by the Japanese. The remainder of us were taken to another spot 50 miles [80 km] away where 10 prisoners died of sickness. At this place, the Japanese again started selecting prisoners to eat. Those selected were taken to a hut where their flesh was cut from their bodies while they were alive and they were thrown into a ditch where they later died.”[107]
Perhaps the most senior officer convicted of cannibalism was Lt Gen. Yoshio Tachibana (立花芳夫,Tachibana Yoshio), who with 11 other Japanese personnel was tried in August 1946 in relation to the execution of U.S. Navy airmen, and the cannibalism of at least one of them, during August 1944, on Chichi Jima, in the Bonin Islands. The airmen were beheaded on Tachibana’s orders. Because military and international law did not specifically deal with cannibalism, they were tried for murder and “prevention of honorable burial”. Tachibana was sentenced to death, and hanged.[108]
Should these things be discounted?”

“I just recently reviewed Ichikawa’s Nobi, which depicts cannibalism as well as the general depravity of war. Perhaps the best anti-war film ever made. No such cinema can be seen by the youth of today, enraptured by zero fighters and the wonderful ascetics who flew above the squalor on the ground.

The evidence of cannibalism has been around ever since the war. See Wiki and its source material:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanesewarcrimes#Cannibalism

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrjJbl7kRrI
http://www.japantoday.com/category/entertainment/view/angelina-jolies-unbroken-strikes-a-nerve-in-japan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unbroken_(film)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1809398/
http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2014/12/12/chicken-pox-prevent-jolie-from-promoting-unbroken-premiere/20330535/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_war_crimes
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoshio_Tachibana
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannibalism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cove_(film)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1313104/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KRD8e20fBo
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenophobia

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s