Japan has hogged the limelight in recent years owing to the issues it got involved in. There’s the conflict with China over ownership claims of the Senkaku/Daioyu islands and its wartime crimes against the Chinese refugees just to name a few.
Between the two issues, it’s Japan’s wartime past that has gained a lot of attention from the international community. With the Chinese continually bashing the land of the rising sun and blaming it for the Nanking massacre that killed hundreds of thousands of people, the tension among the citizens of the two nation as well as those in other countries remains to be strong. In fact, reports have noted a rise in Japanese nationalism such as websites that that dispute WW2 atrocities such as the Nanking massacre movie rebuttal, as a result of these ongoing disputes.
Last year saw the timely release of an animated film produced by a Japanese writer, director and Academy Award winner Hayao Miyazaki. Entitled “The Wind Rises,” the movie became a box-office hit generating more than $80 million since its opening.
The Wind Rises
The film was meant to honor the designer of the Zero fighter plane, a dominant aircraft during the World War II. And although only snippets of the happenings of the Second World War (battle scenes) were shown in the movie and were spread out in various parts, it was strongly criticized as anti-Japanese. The criticisms came as the film was released at a time when Japan was in hot seat for the islands dispute with China and its wartime atrocities.
Primarily, the film delved on the early life of a smart engineer by the name of Jiro Horikoshi. The main character in the movie designed a number of warplanes including the Mitsubishi Zero. This same aircraft was a prominent plane during the war and in the Pearl Harbor attack.
Much of the movie showed dream sequences featuring Jiro Horikoshi. These included a conversation with an Italian aircraft designer whom Jiro looked up to for inspiration and lots of aircraft flying in the sky .
Meanwhile, there were certain parts of the film that showed glimpses of Japan’s wartime history. One scene, for instance, showed a German engineer visiting Jiro and saying that the Japanese have the habit of forgetting their unpleasant past and present issues such as the conflict with China, the break with the League of Nations and has a history of getting at odds with other nations.
The famous Zero plane, on the other hand, was only highlighted at the last part of the movie.
The beloved Japanese director acknowledges the contradictions in his movie and the negative feedback his film has elicited from his fellowmen but never held a grudge. He said the goal of his film was in part to actually correct the record and accusations of other nations particularly China regarding the war era. Known for his liberal views, he also expressed disappointment that political leaders do not have full knowledge of the war and its consequences.
With regards to his movie “The Wind Rises,” the director revealed that his connection with the Zero warplane dates back to many long years ago. His father then during the war was working for a company that made parts for the aircraft.
Miyazaki is a well known writer and director in Japan. For more than two decades, he has been producing summer movies for the whole family. Unknown to some, Miyazaki is also an aviation enthusiast who even tried to buy a restored Zero plane in the past.