Lost Mishima film foretelling suicide found

The negative of a film Yukio Mishima wrote, directed and starred in has been discovered at the late writer’s house in Tokyo’s Ota Ward, it was learned Friday.

“Yukoku” (“Patriotism”), based on Mishima’s novel of the same name, was released in Japan in 1966.

Mishima’s widow, Yoko, who died in 1995, was believed to have destroyed the original along with all copies of the film.

But the negative was found in a wooden box by Hiroaki Fujii, producer of the 30-minute black-and-white film, according to publisher Shinchosha Co.

Fujii had persuaded Yoko, who pulled all copies of the film from theaters and burned them after Mishima’s suicide in 1970, to hold onto the original.

The film includes scenes that foreshadow Mishima’s suicide in 1970 at the Ground Self-Defense Force’s regional headquarters in Tokyo’s Ichigaya District.

A character in the film, a lieutenant involved in the Feb. 26 Incident, a failed 1936 military coup, commits hara-kiri.

Mishima also committed hara-kiri at the GSDF regional headquarters after calling on officers to launch a coup d’etat.

Shinchosha plans to include the movie in a 42-volume DVD set of Mishima’s works.

Although the film is short, it was well-received when it was released, movie critic Tadao Sato said, adding it might provide clues as to how Mishima’s suicide should be interpreted.

The sensational death of Mishima, born Kimitake Hiraoka, on Nov. 25, 1970, brought his work to the world’s attention and triggered widespread concern that Japanese militarism would be revived.

But Mishima’s appeal for a revision of the Constitution to permit rearmament had no noticeable effect on the government.