Comedian, actor and director Takeshi Kitano had some scathing things to say about the Japanese film industry at last year's Tokyo International Film Festival, where he was given a career achievement award. One target he singled out was the Japan Academy Prizes — the local equivalent of the Oscars — whose 38th annual awards ceremony will be held on Feb. 27.

"Shochiku, Toho, Toei and sometimes Nikkatsu pass (the awards) around," said Kitano. "The (awards) are supposed to be chosen by the Academy members, but who are they? I'd like them to raise their hands."

Japan Academy Prize Association chairman Yusuke Okada later indignantly retorted that the Academy voting procedures were "the cleanest anywhere" and that the proportion of votes accounted for by employees of the Big Three studios was "only a few percent."