Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Hi Blog,

I haven't had any time to write about the documentary YASUKUNI, by Japan based Chinese ex-pat Li Ying, and the controversy that is swarming around it but fortunately people who are much smarter and more articulate than me have!

Because I think this is important, I'm including a link to a great article about the film, that also includes an interview with Li Ying. The link can be found below.

In the meantime, here's what you need to know:
  • There's a major freedom of speech issue that has developed as a result of this documentary. Nationalists and conservatives both within and outside of the LDP have decried the film as a Chinese campaign to discredit Japan, and by proxy, the Emperor.
  • At issue: Movie theaters around Japan that had agreed to screen the film have backed out at the last minute citing safety and security issues that might arise out of the inevitable [violent?] protests by Japanese nationalists.
  • Defenders of the film and those who believe in the constitutional right to free expression claim that it is a well orchestrated campaign by conservative LDP leaders in cahoots with nationalist groups (that act as their strong arms) to stifle diverse and free expression in Japan. Critics claim that it represents an abuse of public arts funds to support what they believe to be essentially anti-Japanese film.
  • What the real issue is: Freedom of expression in Japan. With recent political trends there are questions about whether basic civil liberties are being compromised -- or destroyed -- in Japan by members of the LDP... Certainly things there have become much more difficult recently for foreign nationals.
At any rate, at the Japan Focus e-journal David McNeill and John Junkerman have assembled a very good article and interview with Li Ying about the documentary YASUKUNI and the issues surrounding it. It is recommended reading. Link.

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