The story of Japanese immigrants in Manchuria before their home country's defeat in World War II is not just a tragedy belonging to the past but also a source of valuable lessons for today's Japanese citizens about how to relate to local and state authorities, according to a documentary maker who has researched the issue for over two decades.

In a book published this summer on the immigrants, Takanori Tezuka, 55, shines a light on the people involved at the grassroots level in encouraging Japanese villagers to become agrarian settlers in Manchuria, where Japan had set up a puppet state in 1932.

Tezuka believes the immigrants — many of whom ended up in labor camps or dead after Soviet forces entered Manchuria in 1945 — and the local leaders who had encouraged them to move paid the price of blind faith in the authorities and that such unqualified trust is a trait still alive in Japanese society today.