Films that depict the occupation of Japan, made afterwards

Roger Macy macyroger at
Sat Sep 11 20:06:35 EDT 2010

Dear KineJapaners,

Many thanks for all your responses on films depicting the occupation of Japan.  I'd still appreciate hearing from people who have grown up in Japan for their perceptions.  In the meantime, I chanced upon a left-field candidate for inclusion.  At the BAJS conference this week, Jonathan Bull of Hokkaido University gave a paper on Post-war repatriation from Sakhalin to Hokkaido and mentioned a film that depicted the death of a group of telephone workers, Karafuto 1945nen natsu hyōsetsu no mon, 樺太1945年夏 氷雪の門 by a director unknown to me, MURAYAMA Mitsuo in 1974 

as having prompted Soviet diplomatic representations, objecting to its screening.

Perhaps this is more of a war film, comparable to those set in Okinawa, except that I think this happened after the Japanese surrender, so would be about the act of occupation, rather than life under it.  But at the least, it says something about who doesn't like films depicting occupation.

Has anyone seen it?

And, in relation to Quentin's point about the filmic invisibility of BCOF forces, isn't that invisibility also total in British and Australian films ?


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Quentin Turnour 
  To: KineJapan at 
  Cc: KineJapan at ; owner-KineJapan at 
  Sent: Wednesday, September 08, 2010 12:17 PM
  Subject: Re: Films that depict the occupation of Japan, made afterwards

  Might have mentioned this before, but there's an intriguing extra layer of invisibility here: of non-US post-war occupying forces. You might say that in Japanese cinema's representations of the occupiers, every one was presumed to be one of MacArthur's children. 

  The early films in Fukasaku's JINGI NAKI TATAKAI series, especially in the original's opening scenes, have US servicemen and MPs on the streets of late 1940s Kure and Hiroshima - when this was one sector not occupied by the Americans. Rather, this was the occupation zone controlled by the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), which operated out of the former (and later) Kure naval base. In real life the troops on the street of Kure and Hiroshima were Australian, Indians and some Brits. 

  It's odder here in the context of post-war Hiroshima black markets. BCOF's troops discipline was notoriously bad. Many (most?) were supplementing army pay by funnelling tones of military supplies to the local black market gangs. 

  But to be fair, few modern residence of Hiroshima - or Japan - have any collective memory of BCOF... I've not read Iboshi Kōichi 's original books, but it wouldn't surprise me they don't differentiate this, either. 

  However, some of the later JINGI NAKI TATAKAI film inadvertently make amends for this error. There are a number of shots of motorcades of large black American limousines transporting Yakuza bosses between meetings. Seems the production designers wanted to save automobile wrangling costs, so use the then much cheaper big black Australian-made Fords and Holdens that were being imported into Japan in the early 70s rather than sourcing Cadillacs or German luxury cars. As a result there is one delicious travelling shot in PROXY WARS (if I remember) that looks more like a scene from MAD MAX than a Yakuza movie. 

  Quentin Turnour, Programmer, 
  Access, Research and Development
  National Film and Sound Archive, Australia
  McCoy Circuit, Acton, 
  phone: +61 2 6248 2054  |  fax: + 61 2 6249 8159

  The National Film and Sound Archive collects, preserves and provides access to Australia's historic and contemporary moving image and recorded sound culture. 

        Aaron Gerow <aaron.gerow at> 
        Sent by: owner-KineJapan at 
        08/09/2010 05:28 AM Please respond to
              KineJapan at 

       To KineJapan at  
              Subject Re: Films that depict the occupation of Japan, made afterwards 



  Kinoshita Keisuke's Nihon no higeki, which was made right after the  
  Occupation in 1953, concertedly places its hahamono story in history  
  and uses lots of newsreel footage, as well as "flashbacks" of  
  Occupation hardships, to do that. In the newsreel-like footage, there  
  are shots of American soldiers, including a pretty powerful one of  
  American soldiers cavorting with "panpan" girls. I haven't seen many  
  images like that in 1950s cinema.

  Kobayashi Masaki's Kuroi kawa from 1956 has many images of American  
  soldiers, though I don't recall if any of them were specifically set  
  in the Occupation.

  I think a lot of films in the yakuza or action genres, especially  
  ones with a historical bent like Fukasaku's Jinginaki tatakai, will  
  depict aspects of the Occupation, including American soldiers.

  Aaron Gerow
  KineJapan owner

  Assistant Professor
  Film Studies Program/East Asian Languages and Literatures
  Yale University

  For list commands, send "information kinejapan" to
  listserver at
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