Hayao Miyazaki: Leave Constitution alone

by Jun Hongo

Staff Writer

Anime master Hayao Miyazaki blasted the government’s push to revise the Constitution, saying that politicians without any understanding of history “shouldn’t be messing” with the foundation of the country.

In a magazine published last week by his production company, Studio Ghibli, the award-winning director said he is “disgusted” by proposals to replace the Constitution, including war-renouncing Article 9.

“To take advantage of the low voter turnout and to change the Constitution without giving it serious thought is unacceptable,” Miyazaki wrote, apparently referring to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s win in Sunday’s Upper House poll. “I am clearly against it.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the LDP leader, has been pushing for amending the Constitution, ultimately hoping to defang the war-renouncing Article 9.

Miyazaki, considered one of the greatest anime filmmakers in the industry, was born in Tokyo in 1941, the year Japan launched a war against the U.S. with the attack on Pearl Harbor. His works include “Spirited Away,” which won the Golden Bear Prize at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival and the 2003 Oscar for best animated feature.

In the article, Miyazaki touches on his childhood memories of surviving the war and witnessing its aftermath. Upon learning what the Imperial Japanese Army had done in China, he wrote that he felt “hatred against Japan” and was ashamed to be born in a country that would do such horrendous acts.

While noting that Japan wasn’t the only country to invade China, Miyazaki said this hardly justified what it did to its neighbors. The government should apologize and pay compensation for its wartime crimes, including against the “comfort women,” and also propose a peaceful way to resolve territorial disputes with its neighbors, he said.

“I am taken aback by the lack of knowledge among government and political party leaders on historical facts,” he said.

Miyazaki, who often touches on pacifism and environmentalism in his movies, said that although he respected the Self-Defense Forces, there should be no talk of enhancing their role.

In addition to Miyazaki’s piece, the publication by Studio Ghibli included similar articles written by those close to the director, including Ghibli film producer Toshio Suzuki. Because bookstores have run short of the work, four articles from it have been made available online for free until Aug. 20.

Many requests have come in for a chance to read the articles “probably due to the high interest in the topic,” the publisher said on its website.

Conservatives have been quick to react to Miyazaki’s remarks. Postings on bulletin board sites criticize him for commenting on political matters. Others disagreed with Miyazaki and supported strengthening Japan’s military “because unlike the old days, threat of an invasion by neighboring countries is becoming real.”

Miyazaki’s latest film, “Kaze Tachinu” (“The Wind Rises”), which depicts prewar Japan through the eyes of the designer of the Zero fighter, opened in theaters Saturday. It debuted at the top of the weekend box office.

For more information, see the Ghibli website.