Japan cinema legend Miyazaki joins protests against move to widen military role

13 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Famed director Miyazaki calls Abe’s move to revise Constitution ‘despicable’.

The legendary animator in a rare press conference at his Studio Ghibli in Tokyo says Shinzo Abe is trying “to curb the rise of China with a show of military force, but that is simply impossible.” Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese director Roger Ebert once called “possibly the best animation filmmaker in history,” revealed on Monday that he has begun work on a new short film project at his Studio Ghibli in Tokyo, while also criticizing Japan’s prime minister.Famed director Hayao Miyazaki made a rare public appearance Monday in Tokyo, but the one-hour news conference may not have satisfied fans of his magical animation: the subject wasn’t movies but politics.As the last feature-length anime from Hayao Miyazaki, we’re sure The Wind Rises is going to be watched over and over by anime enthusiasts hoping to squeeze one last drop of mana from the celebrated director’s final film. The film, developed for screening at the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, is to be created together with a mix of his regular staff and a new group of artists specializing in computer graphics, the Oscar-winning director said during a news conference.

He has repeatedly talked of the need for what he calls a “forward-looking attitude” that concentrates on the positive role Japan has played since surrender and continues to play. That has set alarm bells ringing in Seoul and in Beijing, which say any attempt to tone down explicit apologies made by previous prime ministers should be discouraged. We have to find another way and I think that’s the purpose of having a pacifist constitution.” Miyazaki’s views chime with those of many ordinary Japanese, with media polls showing a majority against the passage of the new defense legislation.

The comments come two years after the release of his final feature-length film, which was praised for its artistry, but criticised for what a minority of people said was romanticisation of conflict. Miyazaki said his producer has predicted the film will take three years to complete, but the director added that he’s working hard in hopes of finishing it sooner. Forcing the bills through parliament would likely further damage Abe’s falling public support, potentially undermining his control of his ruling party. Miyazaki won an Academy Award in 2003 for the film “Spirited Away,” but didn’t attend the ceremony, later saying he hadn’t wanted to visit the country that was bombing Iraq.

He said he hopes that foreign journalists attending the news conference will report that a majority of Okinawans are opposed to the Futenma relocation plan. He received a lifetime award from the Academy last year. “The Wind Rises,” Miyazaki’s last feature-length movie before retirement, was a fictionalized account of the life of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Mitsubishi Zero warplane used in the attack on Pearl Harbor that drew the U.S. into the war. Miyazaki suggested the new military base should be built outside Okinawa, which saw fierce ground battles in World War II and was under U.S. control until 1972.

Not only did he create the storyboards for many of Studio Ghibli’s biggest hits, he penned the Nausicaa manga over a two-year period and also drew a short companion comic for Porco Rosso. The only difference is that I come to the studio 30 minutes later than I used to and go home 30 minutes earlier.” Miyazaki invited international reporters to the studio on Monday for an hour-long open Q&A session, so that he could share his views on several pressing issues in Japanese politics – an almost unheard of gesture of openness by a prominent figure in normally reserved Japan. The film depicts Horikoshi as an aeronautics enthusiast dismayed at the use of his creations for war. “It must make clear that the war of aggression was a mistake and our deep regret that it caused great damage to the people of China,” Miyazaki said. “There are many people who want to forget that, but it must not be forgotten.” This year, Miyazaki became one of the representatives of a fund backing a campaign against construction of a new U.S. military facility on the southern island of Okinawa.

People across the nation demonstrated at the weekend against Abe’s security legislation, which would enshrine in law his reinterpretation last year of the constitution. However, when asked if he would be willing to create a movie to share views on Japan’s aggression in the 1930s and ’40s with other Asian nations, Miyazaki indicated he wouldn’t. “I think it’s better to create an animated movie that has something to do with a history over hundreds of thousands of years, rather than a history over these 100 or 200 years,” he said.

While this might seem an insulting choice for a proxy of a historical figure that Miyazaki seems to hold in high esteem, Miyazaki often draws himself as a pig in self-portraits. On Abe’s side is author Naoki Hyakuta, whose best sellers include a novel about kamikaze pilots, who has publicly denied that the Nanking Massacre took place. That American culture has deeply influenced Japan, he said. “Operating nuclear power plants in this country, which has so many volcanoes and sees earthquakes so often, is simply out of the question,” he said.

A five-year gap between a manga ending its serialization and being published in collected form for the first time is extremely rare, and even in the 2013 documentary about Studio Ghibli, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, Miyazaki mused that The Wind Rises’ manga would never be sold as a stand-alone book. Luckily for his many fans, that prediction turned out to be wrong, and publisher Dai Nippon Eiga says that the book will go on sale in early September.

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