Japan loves Jolie but will it welcome ‘Unbroken’?

by

AP

Angelina Jolie’s new movie “Unbroken” has not been released in Japan yet, but it has already struck a nerve in a country still wrestling over its wartime past.

The buzz on social networks and in online chatter is decidedly negative over the film, which was directed by Jolie and depicts a U.S. Olympic runner who endures torture at a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War II.

Some people are calling for a boycott, although there is no release date in Japan yet. The movie hits theaters in the U.S. on Dec. 25.

Others want the ban extended to Jolie, which is unusual in a nation enamoured with Hollywood. Jolie and her husband Brad Pitt are popular and 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. Zamperini, played by Jack O’Connell, survived in a raft for 47 days with two other crewmen after their B-24 bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, only to be captured by the Japanese and sent to a POW camp.

Especially provocative is a passage in the book that accuses the Japanese of engaging in the cannibalism of POWs. It is not clear how much of that will be in the movie, but in Japan that is too much for some.

“There was absolutely no cannibalism,” claimed Mutsuhiro Takeuchi, a nationalist-leaning educator and Shinto priest. “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 also heads a research organization called the Japan Culture Intelligence Association.

Hollywood films that touch on topics that are sensitive in Japan have had a troubled history here.

Theaters canceled screenings of the Oscar-winning 2009 documentary “The Cove,” which delved into the bloody annual dolphin hunts in the town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, after the distributor was deluged with threats from people who said the movie denigrated the nation’s food culture. Taiji is known as a whaling town.

Roland Kelts, a journalist and expert on Japanese culture, compared the outburst over “Unbroken” to the frenzy over “The Cove,” calling it “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.

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.

On Friday, Jolie reluctantly canceled her promotional tours after Universal Pictures said she was suffering from “a mild bout of chicken pox.”

Jolie’s illness comes days after she was maligned by top Hollywood executives in private emails made public by the Sony cyberattack and her film was ignored by the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe awards.

The release of “Unbroken” comes at a time when some in Japan are downplaying its colonization of its Asian neighbors and the war of aggression waged by the Imperial Japanese Army as it entered World War II.

For example, some politicians dispute the role played by Imperial Japanese soldiers in the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, in which an estimated 300,000 Chinese were killed in a weekslong orgy of rape and murder. They say the tally is a vast overestimate.

Similarly, they reject historical studies that show women from several countries, especially Korea, were forced into prostitution by the Imperial Japanese military. Some oppose the term “sex slave,” which the U.N. uses, preferring the vague and euphemistic term “comfort women” instead.

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.

  • Steve Jackman

    It is ironic that Shinzo Abe and Zamperini share something in common. They both studied at the University of Southern California (Zamperini has a degree from the university, Abe does not). That must surely get under Mr. Abe’s skin.

  • Ahojanen

    Please don’t excuse unsuccessful promotion efforts by accusing Japanese public attitude. And the perception is simply wrong, as the majority of Japanese moviegoers are understanding and open-minded. But some may cry out “refund!” at theaters if the movie is boring :)

    • tisho

      ”Japanese moviegoers are understanding and open-minded”

      Joke of the day. Only if by ”open-minded” you mean one of the most close minded people in the world. Is that why The Cove and other movies got banned from theaters in the country ?

      • johnniewhite

        There is freedom of speech in Japan. Are you aware that it is not the same in Korea or China? They can say anything at Japan, and you can say so to Japanese; but you cannot do that in China or in Korea.

      • tisho

        Is that so ? Could you be kind enough to give me an example of free speech censorship in South Korea ? I can give you a lot of examples of free speech censorship in Japan. Here’s one – The Cove was BANNED from theaters in Japan. Where was the free speech when they banned the movie from airing ? Where was the free speech when they banned a WW2 victims art gallery exhibition in Tokyo ? What happened to free speech there ? Did it flew somewhere ? What happened to freedom of expression when an adult women scanned her own vagina and wanted to make a bout of it ? Japanese people are the most brutally ignorant individuals i’ve ever seen. Tell me ONE thing got banned or censored in South Korea ?

      • johnniewhite

        I see that you are an expert of all these anti-Japanese activities taking place in Japan. But you must not forget that there should be certain moral standard that the freedom should be exercised, e.g. streaking is illegal in Japan. These are very minor when compared with what is happening in China and Korea. It is really, honestly, really impossible to give examples in China and Korea — there are too many, and very widely reported. Of course there is no freedom of press in China, but if you look at NTDTV, you will have a glimpse of the issues. For Korea, please read articles about Mr Kato and Sankei Shimbun. You will learn a lot from that story.

      • left nut

        You need to know the difference between slander, the spread of false information and freedom of speech.

        I love how you are trying to frame an intelligent response to tisho, however you’re just giving us further insight to your slanted views and absurdities.

      • tisho

        Dude this would’ve been hilarious if it wasn’t so serious. By ”anti-japanese activities” you mean art gallery exhibition, screening a documentary movie about the inhumane dolphin slaughter and an American hollywood movie ? Are you sure you don’t have a brain injury ?

        By ”streaking” do you mean running around naked ? I presume this is what you meant to say. Who exactly is running around naked ? What the hell are you talking about ?

        ”there are too many, and very widely reported.”

        widely reported in 2chan and other underground anti-korean revisionist forums you mean ? If there are so many, it should be easy to just provide one example wouldn’t it ?

        I am aware of the recent case of the arrest of the sankei shinbum for defamation of the president of South Korea. In South Korea, defamation of the president is against the law, just like ”streaking” is against the law in Japan ( even though i don’t know anyone who ”streaks”).

        Don’t bother replying, im not going to reply any more. I feel stupid just replying to a brain dead low intelligent individual like you.

      • johnniewhite

        So all you do is to attack Japan and the people who speak for Japan, all in isolation — never mind about the horrible crimes in a catastrophic scale happening in China and other places. I guess you are on thier side.

      • YankeeGoHome

        No one is attacking “Japan” itself.
        In any case, we*aboo is not the one to speak for Japan.

      • Kyle

        Censorship in China and Korea really should not be compared. Korea and Japan both have similar amounts of censorship. China is at a whole other level.

      • YankeeGoHome

        There’s no such thing anti-Japanese activities taking place in Japan.
        You see something not there because you are deluded.
        In any case, you are not the one to make sure what is happening inside Japan while you are only checking something written in English.
        We*aboo has no need to be persecution paranoia for anything regarding Japan as it is nothing to do with him.

      • Oliver Mackie

        Whilst the issue of censorship (in Japan and elsewhere) is an important topic, please note that The Cove was not banned in Japan. The original plan was that maybe one (or was it 2-3?) cinemas planned to show it (pretty standard for a minor documentary of any type here), but right-wing extremists protested outside those cinemas and intimidated the managers into cancelling it. The DVD is easily available in Japan at almost any branch of the largest rental chain Tsutaya. To reiterate, the government or any other authority made absolutely no comment on the film and it was not banned.

      • Steve Jackman

        Haha, haha, haha! Oliver Mackie, you never cease to amaze me. You call The Cove a “minor documentary”, but in reality it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2010. Calling a Academy Award-winning film a “minor documentary” is really something!

      • Oliver Mackie

        You are correct, it did win an Academy Award and become a major documentary. The point was that, at the time it was released, it was a minor documentary and thus initial cinema showings in all countries were extremely limited, as is the norm. The time frame is important to the issue at hand.

      • Steve Jackman

        The Cove had already won several major awards even before it won the Academy Award, so you are wrong in implying that it was a “minor documentary” before winning the Oscar. Your point about timing is just a red herring and has nothing to do with the movie’s cancelled screenings in Japan.

        Regardless of the spin you want to put on censorship in Japan, the fact remains that for all practical purposes it was not released to the public for viewing due to censorship. The Tokyo Film Festival is an extremely minor film festival and is not even close to competing with major film festivals like Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, Tribeca, Venice or Berlin.

      • Oliver Mackie

        O.K. let’s go through this one more time. I am under no illusions that I will change Mr. Jackson’s ‘thinking’, even if he were to read all I have written, but for anyone else following this (one person will suffice to make this worthwhile) let me spell out again what I have been saying.

        My original response was to the poster who said The Cove had been banned in Japan. I don’t know any definition of that word (and the words are important as we are communicating in the written language here) which doesn’t include the notion of some body which has the power to prohibit the showing of a movie. No such thing happened in Japan. To the original poster, if you still disagree, then show me which part of which body banned it, please.

        Now Mr. Jackson, let’s move on to your ostensibly more ‘sophisticated’ explanation, i.e. despite the fact that it wasn’t officially banned, “for all practical purposes it was not released to the public for viewing due to censorship.”

        First of all, let’s tackle the subject of how this could have occurred, by which I don’t mean ‘why’ but ‘how.’ You have made pains to point out in the past that your vision of Japan does not include ‘shadowy elites’ and you have referred to your bible on this topic, van Wolferen’s “Enigma of Japanese Power.” You point out, quite rightly, that the book does not rely on the notion of a shadowy elite, but specifically locates the faults it finds with Japan in the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the police, and politicians (particularly the LDP.)

        Which of these then could it have been which managed to suppress the film? Looking at the evidence, I can see no indication that any of them did, indeed I can see specific evidence that each of them didn’t.

        If it was the bureaucracy, using their power to pressure the cinemas involved that they cancel the showings, then what happened to that power when it came to Tsutaya, a very large company (actually more involved in real estate than anything else)? Why wasn’t that company, which is much more reliant on good relations with the bureaucracy than a few small cinemas, pressured not to stock the film. Of course it wasn’t, because bureaucrats were never involved in the first place.

        It can’t have been the judiciary, because as soon as it became involved, it came down on the side of showing the film. Just eight days after the original date of the cancelled showing in Shibuya, two other cinemas had already obtained in court prior injunctions against protests, which therefore did not occur and the film was shown.

        It can’t have been the police, because, again, just eight days after the original planned showing, police acted to prevent any disruption to the screening schedule by right-wing protesters at four cinemas which had not obtained injunctions. The film was shown.

        It could have been attempted by the LDP, I suppose, but if so, they were thwarted by the judiciary and the police.

        The fact of the matter is that there was no censorship by any body, but there was some disappointing self-censorship by three cinema owners, which encouragingly was countered within a couple of weeks by opposite actions from six cinema owners. So much for the uniformity of Japanese.

        But, I hear Mr. Jackson protest, this still amounts to censorship “for all intents and purposes.” How can such a highly-decorated film have had such little cinematic exposure in Japan? I can’t say exactly how it happened (even through I still don’t postulate any shadowy elite) but if it looks like censorship, smells like censorship, then….

        This is where my point about the timing of events is crucial. To a very great extent, documentaries are minor parts of the cinematic output. Occasionally, they become extremely widely watched, for example the series of documentaries by Michael Moore, but this is very rare indeed. The vast majority, even those which are highly regarded by the industry, get premiered at film festivals (if they are lucky), show at relatively very few cinemas, and then go to DVD rental or purchase. Even the very successful ones get most of their viewing on DVD, particularly in a country like Japan, where even hugely successful films typically only run for two weeks in cinemas. To anyone who watched ‘Bowling for Columbine’ in Japan
        (a film that was highly critical of the US gun culture, something that surely would have registered with many Japanese), did you watch it in the cinema or on DVD? There you go….

        The Cove was finished (i.e. ready for screening) in summer (August?) 2009. It was shown at the Tokyo Film Festival in October 2009. (Mr. Jackson’s point about the Tokyo festival being much smaller Cannes etc is of no relevance whatsoever. The Tokyo testival is by far Japan’s most prestigious film event.) The rights to the film in Japan were immediately snapped up by a Japanese distributor. It was still a minor film. The first ‘award’ the film received was a nomination for its music in November 2009 (to reiterate after the Japanese rights had been bought) and the first award it actually won was later in November in the U.K. The Japanese distributor planned to start showing the film in June 2010, a time lag that is absolutely typical in Japan. So, the initial small number of cinemas (3) at which the film was planned to be shown was absolutely normal for such a ‘minor’ (at the time) film. The rest of the story has already been detailed, right-wingers succeeded through intimidation tactics to cancel the three original showings, but only for about 8 days, and when the judiciary and police did their jobs, they could no longer stop it.

        I have just this evening visited my local Tsutaya branch in commuter-belt Kanagawa. The documentary section is relatively small compared to others, and almost every single documentary has only one copy. Michael Jackson’s ‘This is it’ has three. The Cove? Eight……I guess it must still be being watched by enough people to justify as many copies as most Hollywood blockbusters released over the last 12 months. But, I may be wrong of course. It COULD be that some bureaucrats have pressured Tsutaya to keep lots of covers (the DVDs don’t actually play, of course) just so that they can point out that the film is available in Japan.

      • Gordon Graham

        Ouch! Touche…Thank you for clearing up unfounded garble on the Internet. Good thing I read on or I would have thought it was banned in Japan.

      • Steve Jackman

        You were so busy with your tirade that you apparently forgot to read the following passages from The Japan Times article above:

        “The buzz on social networks and in online chatter is decidedly negative over the film, which was directed by Jolie and depicts a U.S. Olympic runner who endures torture at a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War II.

        Some people are calling for a boycott, although there is no release date in Japan yet. The movie hits theaters in the U.S. on Dec. 25.

        Others want the ban extended to Jolie, which is unusual in a nation enamoured with Hollywood. Jolie and her husband Brad Pitt are popular and have reputations as Japan-lovers.”

      • Oliver Mackie

        “The buzz on social networks…”

        “Some people are calling for….”

        “Others want…”

        Totally vague sources. Nothing concrete has happened yet. Wait and see…purely speculative at the moment, and there’s no reason based on past events to suspect anything. If any part of the governmental apparatus bans the film, then you will have a point.

      • Ahojanen

        Now I see you’re lying or ignorant. The Cove was never banned. It is also available in DVD/BD format at video rental shops.

        Again don’t get confused between the censorship and free choice of individual theater (on the basis of commercial reason).

      • Steve Jackman

        Like many other things in Japan, the perception and reality are quite different. There is a perception that there is freedom of speech in Japan, but that is not really true. Sure, there is freedom of speech as long as one toes the party line. But, anyone who tries to exercise their “freedom of speech” by dissenting, criticizing or exposing the darker aspects of Japan is threatened with physical violence, bullied, harassed, blacklisted, ostracized, called a liar, and labeled “anti-Japanese”, until they are cowed into silence.

      • johnniewhite

        It is misleading to limit what you have described as “aspect of Japan” or “anti-Japanese”, Steve. The darker sides exist on both ends; Yakuza (Japanese mafia) is often associated with the immigrant Koreans who trades drags illegally with North Korea. One must not forget also that Japanese media do not speak for ordinary Japanese people. The liberal papers such as Asahi and Mainichi Shimbun speak for socialists and communists, including the Communist China and Koreans, while Yomiuri broadly speak for the conservatives that have interests with the US. Sankei can be considered as the one for Japanese nationalists, but it is much smaller than the rest of the major papers. The loss of Japanese voice from the major media in Japan comes from the background of the rule by GHQ, and what is what the LDP (and nearly the half of ordinary Japanese people) are trying to “get back” the voice of Japan.

      • Ahojanen

        At least I know the Cove was shot at some local theatres (perhaps not many) across Japan. Identify “other movies.” You must give evidence.

        There is no censorship as you wrongly assume, only guideline/rating, like PG. Also each theatre staff can freely decide which one is to be shown, and their choice is more commercial.

    • Steve Jackman

      Saying that the Japanese are “open-minded” is like saying North Korea or the Taliban are open minded.

    • YankeeGoHome

      You are not the one to describe how Japanese major moviegoers are like:)

  • johnniewhite

    The problem with this article is its belief that the 1937 Nanjing Massacre killing an estimated 300,000 is true; the same with the comfort women issue. Historians have provided sufficient evidence that they cannot be true, and so the person who need to learn the history here is not Jolie but Yuri. Stop helping the Chinese Communists to bash Japan, Yuri. Wake up!

    • de_leuze

      Historian Carol Gluck, Columbia University, has provided sufficient evidence that the testimonies by former Korean female sex slaves are true. “Past Obsessions: World War II in History and Memory” (forthcoming).
      The alleged cannibalism is a theme in David Mitchell’s novel: “The 1000 autumns of Jacob de Zoet”. Other than being a failed attempt to reach the larger market of manga-readers, it is incomprehensible why the author had resorted to such a ridiculous belief.
      Laura Hillenbrand’s book “Unbroken” is presented as Non-Fiction.

      • johnniewhite

        The Japanese historians who seriously engaged with the evaluation of primary sources concluded otherwise. Besides, the women’s testimonies were widely reported in Japan as unreliable: they were in public domain, as they filed lawsuit and their testimonies were reported by media. Do you know if Professor Gluck considered the same piece of evidence fairly? Testimonies by Koreans are notorious — it is almost culture that Koreans tell lies. I am not aware of the research by Professor Gluck but it would be interesting to read her book.

      • left nut

        “it is almost culture that Koreans tell lies” Best quote of the day! The idiocy of this comment, unfortunately speaks volumes on your behalf.

        Have you ever been to Korea or China? do you have any Korean or Chinese friends? I think not and don’t bother to answer.

        Like Yuka Sato, you’re doing yourself and your nation a dis-service. However I doubt you will understand what I mean. Good day.

      • johnniewhite

        Please google an article published by The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea – A Country of Liars by Kim Dae-joong. I hope you will know what I mean.

      • left nut

        Generalize much? Good day to you.

    • Steve Jackman

      The movie Unbroken is based on the biography of Louis Zamperini, an Olympian and an American war hero. So, it is based on Zamperini’s own personal accounts of his two years as a Japanese POW. He just passed away in July of this year. Jolie and Brad Pitt were close to him and their homes are very near each other in LA. Jolie showed the unedited movie to Zamperini before he died, and he was very happy with the movie and agreed with its contents. Therefore, no one should dispute the authencity of this movie.

      • Oliver Mackie

        “Jolie and Brad Pitt were close to him and their homes are very near each other in LA. Jolie showed the unedited movie to Zamperini before he died, and he was very happy with the movie and agreed with its contents. Therefore, no one should dispute the authencity of this movie.”

        How naive can you get? This reads like a Junior High essay…..and a below average one at that!

      • Steve Jackman

        I’m not surprised that you did not understand the article in The Japan Times which we are commenting on, so allow me to spoon-feed you by copying the following sections from the article:

        “The buzz on social networks and in online chatter is decidedly negative over the film, which was directed by Jolie and depicts a U.S. Olympic runner who endures torture at a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War II.

        Some people are calling for a boycott, although there is no release date in Japan yet. The movie hits theaters in the U.S. on Dec. 25.

        Others want the ban extended to Jolie, which is unusual in a nation enamoured with Hollywood. Jolie and her husband Brad Pitt are popular and have reputations as Japan-lovers.”

        Why in the world would Japanese want to ban Jolie, when all she is doing is making a movie which is based on a true story, and in which she collaborated closely with the subject of the movie? If you still don’t get it, I suggest you improve your reading comprehension skills.

      • Oliver Mackie

        I was questioning your low standards for evidence.
        That, in your eyes, the fact that a man “agreed with the contents” of a movie about himself means that “no one should dispute the authenticity”, suggests an unwillingness to question or consider more deeply that has no place in serious debate.

      • Steve Jackman

        You just don’t get it, do you? The movie is about Zamperini and is based on his own personal experience as a Japanese POW. If someone doesn’t like it, they should either not watch it, or give it a bad review. But, only in Japan would it be considered an affront against Japan, and efforts under way to not just boycott the movie, but also ban the director of the movie (Jolie).

      • Oliver Mackie

        “only in Japan would it be considered an affront against Japan”

        Sweeping generalization based on nationality that smells of…..r…r…

        “efforts under way to not just boycott the movie, but also ban the director of the movie”

        No efforts are underway that you have evidence of….chatter on Twitter or whatever means nothing.

  • Yuka Sato

    People who couldn’t regret their war crimes in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam, repeated in Afgan, Iraq. They manufactured many terrorists, killed and tortured the terrorists, they get targeted by other terrorists forever. She should have face the crimes her country did.

    • left nut

      Typical right winged attempt to change the topic. So you know, American’s are very aware of their past and wrong doings and the general public is well educated. Can you say the same for the Japanese, like yourself? absolutely not!

      Japan and it’s people needs to own up to their past injustices and it would get the respect that is believes it deserves. You do your nation a dis-service… I bid you a good day.

    • Guest

      The Japanese people should be thankful that they only suffered two bombings rather than a full-blown invasion, honestly. You’re complaining about a few hundred thousand civilians dying versus the tens of millions (yes, tens of millions) of casualties that would have occurred had Overlord and Coronet gone ahead? Such a position is beyond selfish and borders on vile and despicable.

      • soudeska

        Um, what? I am pretty sure Japan was bombed a lot more than twice, even if “only” two were atomic bombs. It was the occupied for 7 years. None of which is what the movie is about, but you’re just proving Yuka Sato’s point that Americans are ignorant and unrepentant.

    • Steve Jackman

      You conveniently forget that it was Japan’s sneak attack on the U.S. in Pearl Harbor which dragged America into a direct war with Japan. Japan started the war with the U.S., so why complain when it lost?

      • Usono Akaunto

        Do you even know Hull note? Do you know that Roosevelt knew the attack but he wanted it considered as sneak attack, cos he desperately needs the reason to convince people to start the war?

    • YankeeGoHome

      That logic is effecively sounding only when the people in the most victimized countries are agreeing with you.
      So what you have to do first to promote your agenda is, to get Chinese and Korean people with your side.
      Then you can be convincing to Western people for your first time.
      You need tactics, and the tactics is ethically right too.

  • doriru keisan

    I want to say to Roland Kelts in this article.
    Indeed, there are many movies that depict the brutality and inhumanity of war.
    There is not the new reason to be, and to be allowed to scatter a lie that is not a fact.
    And I want also to say to Jolie.
    She should be aware of that war does not bring always every evil.

  • Wes Injerd

    The movie is about Zamperini and what happened to him, not about Jolie
    or even Hillenbrand. Two books are out that tell his story, from which
    many articles and webpages have been written. There is also a mountain
    of archival documents that relate incidents that occurred in POW camps.
    I’ve put together a collection, just search “mansell file bin” and a
    section on Zamperini is near the bottom of the page. Those who wish to
    deny the truth are a little bit late to the scene. But the most
    important thing to Zamperini was the Person who changed his life —
    Christ. And because of that change he went to Japan and preached the
    Gospel to the very people he had once hated. Hopefully we’ll see a movie
    that tells the rest of the story.

  • kyushuphil

    Has anyone done any reliable polling on what Japanese believe about history?

    I know very good polling has been done — often — on what Americans believe about history. And the results show many high percentages believing absolute nonsense. And many have amazing ignorance about such things as the Declaration of Independence, sites and dates of historic events, and other key facts. (Too, anyone remember “Jaywalking” — random pop quizzes by Jay Leno on passers-by on the sidewalk outside his L.A. studio.)

    A couple quibbles here with Yuri Kageyama’s reporting of Mutsuhiro Takeuchi, “a nationalist-leaning educator and Shinto priest” who said Japanese “executed war criminals were charged with political crimes, not torture.”

    One: I know a doctor in Fukuoka was charged with and executed for torture after he killed the crew of an American bomber. It came down on May 5, 1945, in mountains here in Kyushu, and this doctor got them and killed them by vivisection.

    Also, Japanese were tried and found guilty of the torture called waterboarding — which Americans later happily took up themselves.

  • Japanese Bull Fighter

    I did a Japanese language search for comment on Unbroken. There is actually rather little comment and it is all directed at the book which I am now reading. One would not expect that much comment because AFIK the book is not available in Japanese (no translation showed up when I bought my copy from Amazon’s Japan site) and the movie has not yet been released. Comments that do appear seem to be heavily focused on the issue of cannibalism. I have not had the time to read a sample of the Japanese posts. I do not know whether they are denying cannibalism which is in fact documented or claiming that it is exaggerated. The film Unbroken is also being criticized in American Christian venues for understating Mr. Z’s Christianity and making it generic.

  • J.P. Bunny

    “Even Japanese don’t know their own history, so misunderstandings arise.” Too bad the current right wing nut jobs don’t want the Japanese to know their own history, or at least an unvarnished version of it.

  • YankeeGoHome

    Jolie didn’t have to do this because there’s a good one for POW abuse made by a Japanese director, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence”, promoting that movie again would be better.
    Excellent in the music too.

    • Steve Jackman

      Yes, but the difference is that Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence came out in 1983, when Japan was still feeling pretty confident. Fast forward to 2014, and Japan has lost its self-confidence. This is why it is so defensive and considers every little thing (like a Hollywood movie) to be an affront to Japan. It is a sure sign of a country in decline.

  • lvg

    It should be required viewing for school children in Japan.

  • kyrifles

    “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.”

    None of these movies depicts Japanese atrocities. The general view in Japan appears to be that the Japanese were the greatest victims of the Pacific War. It’s all water under the bridge, and Japan obviously committed nowhere near the kinds of atrocities inflicted by Germany, but its methods were so medieval as to be counter-productive.

    From an American standpoint, the kinds of things done by Japan to American prisoners-of-war mean that the US relationship with Japan will never be as close as that with Germany, because while German crimes were horrendous, they were done to non-Americans. Meanwhile, the Chinese are counting the days to the moment the US formally abrogates the US-Japan mutual defense treaty. Until Japan not only acknowledges its wartime activities and educates its population about the atrocities committed in its name, relations with its neighbors will never truly be normal.