Update on Watanabe Fumiki

Roland Domenig roland.domenig
Tue Sep 16 06:27:42 EDT 2008

A few month ago I sent a brief notice to the list that filmmaker Watanabe Fumiki had been arrested on charges of fraud a few days before his two new films "Nomonhan" and "Tenno densetsu" were supposed to be screened in Kawasaki.
Last week, on September 11, Watanabe was again arrested by Public Security Police on charges of violating the Minor Offenses Act (keihanzaiho) because he was affixing posters of the scheduled screenings on September 17-19 at the Yoyogi Hachiman Kumin Kaikan on poles on the street. The arrest followed an article in the weekly Shukan Shincho that was issued on September 10. According to the article (and the poster announcements) Watanabe claims (amongst other things) in his (fictitious) film "Tenno densetsu" that the present emperor is not the child of the Showa tenno - a statement that the right wing will certainly not tolerate. Public Security seems to be afraid of the reaction of right wing groups that have already disturbed screenings of Watanabe's last film "Harahara tokei". Although no indictment was brought in after Watanabe's first arrest on May 14 he was held in custody for the maximum detention period of 23 days. After the 23 day detention period ended he was rearrested twice on different charges, so that altogether he was held in custody for more than two months. The fact that this time Watanabe was arrested at 4 o'clock in the morning is a clear indicator that he was tailed by Public Security. As in May the scheduled screenings end of this week in Tokyo have been postponed.
It is interesting that it was again an article in the Shukan Shincho that led to the postponement of a film not to the liking of the right wing. This April an article in the Shukan Shincho had triggered the controversy around Li Ying's documentary "Yasukuni" that eventually led to the cancellation of its theatrical release.

Roland Domenig
Institute of East Asian Studies
Vienna University

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