Films that depict the occupation of Japan, made afterwards

Quentin Turnour Quentin.Turnour at
Wed Sep 8 07:17:50 EDT 2010

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
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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

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