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Why have Japanese filmmakers recently been turning out so many films about World War II and its aftermath? The obvious answer is that they’re commemorating the 70th anniversary of that war’s end, which was marked on Aug. 15. But there are far fewer new films about WWII in most of the countries that fought with and against Japan in that conflict. (China, where the anti-Japanese war film has long been a thriving subgenre, is an exception.)

One parallel with the recent spate of local WWII films is the apologetic speech Japanese prime ministers are still expected to deliver on significant end-of-the-war anniversaries, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s (delivered on Aug. 14) being the most recent. This speech is inevitably subjected to close scrutiny by the Chinese and Korean governments, and media types, who nearly always find it not apologetic enough. So why keep giving it — and why keep making WWII films?

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