Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

David McNeill, John Junkerman, Li Ying, "Freedom Next Time. Japanese Neonationalists Seek to Silence Yasukuni Film," Japan Focus, Newsletter No. 14.

Neo-nationalists have shut down a Chinese-directed movie about Japan’s controversial war memorial Yasukuni, the latest in a string of incidents threatening freedom of expression in Japan.

Its name translates as “peaceful country,” millions have silently prayed there for an end to wars, and for much of the year the loudest sound is the buzzing of insects and the shuffle of old footsteps to the hushed main hall. Yet Yasukuni Shrine, which occupies a single square kilometer of central Tokyo, is one of the most controversial pieces of real estate in Asia, resented by millions who consider it a monument to war, empire, and Japan’s unrepentant and undigested militarism.

A decade ago when Chinese director Li Ying began filming there he didn’t know what to make of his mysterious subject either. Today, as he watches the official Tokyo launch of his two-hour movie “Yasukuni” go down in flames amid death threats and cancelled screenings, he says the shrine symbolizes a “disease of the spirit” in Japan. “That I haven’t been able to leave this issue alone for the last ten years means that I too am suffering,” explained the 44-year-old Guangdong native.

The full article includes photographs =>
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