Friday, April 2, 2010

New documentary includes historic confessions of Japan's rape of Nanking

by Chris MaGee

A couple of years ago when we launched the J-Film Pow-Wow blog Japan was gripped with controversy and uproar around Ying Li's documentary "Yasukuni". That film told of Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo where the kami, or spirits, of those who fought and died in the name of the Emperor including over 1,000 Class A and B war criminals. Li's films was lauded by critics internationally but was met with fierce opposition from right wing groups and members of Japan's then ruling LDP government. There were many people who believed that the fact that the director of "Yasukuni" was Chinese was the root of much of the outrage, so it will be interesting to see if a new documentary by a Japanese filmmaker will cause the same firestorm of controversy.

The documentary in question is "Torn Memories of Nanjing" made by first time filmmaker Tamaki Matsuoka (above). To confront Japan's denial of the horrors that took place in the wake of the Imperial Army's occupation of Nanking in 1937 Matsuoka went directly to the source and interviewed 250 Imperial Army veterans as well as Chinese survivors to get a first hand account of exactly what transpired in the then Chinese capital 73-years-ago. The result is on camera confessions of murder and rape by these former soldiers, a first in a Japanese film.

It's interesting that "Torn Memories of Nanjing" is coming out now. It seems that the way for it has been pioneered by films like "Yasukuni", Risa Morimoto and Linda Hoaglund's "Wings of Defeat" ,that spoke with surviving kamikaze pilots, and Kaoru Ikeya's "The Ants" about Japanese soldiers who fought in Japan after the end of WW2.

"Torn Memories of Nanjing" recently had its world premiere at this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival. You can check out the trailer below and read more about it at this excellent article at

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