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Famed director Miyazaki calls Abe’s move to revise Constitution ‘despicable’

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

Famed director Hayao Miyazaki made a rare public appearance Monday in Tokyo, but the one-hour news conference may not have satisfied fans of his magical animation: The subject wasn’t movies but politics.

Responding to questions from reporters, Miyazaki bashed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s moves to build a new U.S. military base in Okinawa Prefecture, revise the pacifist post-war Constitution and reactivate nuclear power plants that have been idled in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima crisis.

“I believe Prime Minister Abe wishes to leave his name in history as a great man who revised the Constitution and its interpretation, which I think is despicable,” Miyazaki said at a news conference at his studio in Tokyo hosted by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

The news conference was live-streamed over the Internet to general viewers.

Miyazaki attended the news conference as a representative of a fund to support Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga’s campaign against Abe’s plan to build a military base in Nago, northern Okinawa, to take over the functions of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, central Okinawa.

The fund, set up in May, had raised ¥385.7 million in donations as of July 8. Miyazaki is one of its eight representatives.

He said he hopes that foreign journalists attending the news conference will report that a majority of Okinawans are opposed to the Futenma relocation plan.

Miyazaki suggested the new military base should be built outside Okinawa, which saw fierce ground battles in World War II and was under U.S. control until 1972.

Miyazaki did not deliver a speech during the news conference, but simply answered questions from foreign journalists who sought his opinions on various political issues.

He argued that Japan should apologize in a straightforward manner for its wartime aggression in China, while both Tokyo and Beijing should stop engaging in political games over the history issue.

“(Japan’s) war of aggression into China is definitely something we should not have done. I believe (Japan) should clearly say that (the country) inflicted enormous damage on China and express deep remorse over it,” he said.

However, when asked if he would be willing to create a movie to share views on Japan’s aggression in the 1930s and ’40s with other Asian nations, Miyazaki indicated he wouldn’t.

“I think it’s better to create an animated movie that has something to do with a history over hundreds of thousands of years, rather than a history over these 100 or 200 years,” he said.

Miyazaki said he is currently working with computer graphics staff on a short animated film to be shown at his museum in Mitaka, western Tokyo. The main character of the film is a small hairy caterpillar living on a small green leaf.

Some of his noted works explore themes such as the power and beauty of nature, and the sins of humans for destroying it.

Miyazaki confessed that he dislikes “American culture” and the “American lifestyle” based on mass production and mass consumption. That American culture has deeply influenced Japan, he said.

“I have lived with a feeling that civilization based on mass consumption will come to an end someday,” he said.

He was also asked if Japan should operate nuclear power plants. Miyazaki immediately said “no.”

“Operating nuclear power plants in this country, which has so many volcanoes and sees earthquakes so often, is simply out of the question,” he said.

Miyazaki said he believes Mount Fuji will erupt someday and tsunami may devastate Tokyo and its surrounding area, including his home.