Rightists’ ‘Yasukuni’ preview gets thumbs down

by Takahiro Fukada

At a special preview of “Yasukuni” demanded by rightwing groups, some of the 150 members criticized the controversial, but award-winning, documentary about the so-named Tokyo war shrine and even threatened to sue the state for subsidizing part of its production.

Rightwing groups arranged the preview so their members could have an opportunity to watch the film before passing judgment on it. Lawmakers demanded and got an earlier preview.

“Speaking straight, (this is) an anti-Japanese film. There is no doubt,” Seishuro Nakao, an executive of a rightwing group, told the audience after the preview, which was held at the Loft Plus One live music club in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.

“Let many people see this film. . . . We need to let people know such an anti-Japanese film was produced with their tax money,” he said, referring to the film’s partial funding by an organization affiliated with the Cultural Affairs Agency.

The movie shows festive scenes of the shrine recorded on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.

In the film, some people shout “Tenno heika banzai” (Long live the Emperor!). An American stands holding the Stars and Stripes. Some youngsters protest the war dead commemoration ceremony and are beaten up.

One in the audience suggested he and his like-minded colleagues should sue the agency and the state, demanding the return of the film’s subsidy.

Another said the movie should not be shown in Japan because it would give the impression that the war Japan waged was an act of aggression.

“This is no good,” he said. “I absolutely do not want this movie to be screened.”

Mitsuhiro Kimura, one of the preview’s organizers and the president of Issui-kai, a rightist group, “I would like to produce a pro-Yasukuni movie with about ¥15 million” in agency subsidies.

Another organizer, Yu Hirano, called the preview and subsequent discussion a success.

“It was a great thing that all rightwing nationalists gathered, saw the movie together and had a debate,” Hirano said.

Despite a request from the Shinto shrine to delete some of the content, the film’s distributor, Argo Pictures, said Monday it will go ahead with plans to screen the documentary across Japan in early May as scheduled.