Japanese propaganda movies

Discussions on all aspects of the Japanese Empire, from the capture of Taiwan until the end of the Second World War.
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Peter H
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Japanese propaganda movies

Post by Peter H » 18 Aug 2005 05:48

From The Japan Times,4th August 2005:

http://www.japantimes.com/cgi-bin/getar ... 0807tc.htm
....Shukan Shincho sheds light on a heretofore unreported aspect of the Pacific War: To better understand its enemy, America's Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of today's CIA, recruited experts to critique Japanese movies.

Their report, a 22-page document dated 30 March, 1944, and titled "Japanese Films: A Phase of Psychological Warfare," analyzed the themes, psychological content, technical quality, and propaganda value of 20 Japanese films produced between 1938 and 1941.

The report was unsparing in its acknowledgment that Japanese films were indeed persuasive propaganda. Japanese males were characterized as being courageous and composed, kind and tolerant. China, meanwhile, is represented by women who are alluring, but obstinate and capricious. Western culture is disparaged through stereotypical portrayals, with Japanese or other Asian males with a Western education -- typically shown indulging in American cigarettes and jazz music -- portrayed as cowardly, deceitful, pleasure-seeking and venal.

The films in the list ranged from an episode in the "Tange Sazen" series, about a one-eyed, one-armed samurai, to the 1940 romantic drama "Night in China (Shina no Yoru)," a joint production by Toho Studios and the China Film Corp. Since only the English titles are given, two films -- "The Rape of the Flute" and "Song of the Little Bird" -- remain unidentified.

Takahisa Furukawa, author of "Senjika no Nihon Eiga (Japanese Wartime Cinema)," explains to Shukan Shincho that films of this era generally reflected Japan's national policy. No wonder then that the U.S. analysts observed a recurring message extolling the virtues of self sacrifice, noting, "Through his death, [the character] accomplishes something. He also provides a motive for those left behind to emulate . . . or a pattern of behavior from which they should enthusiastically learn and acquit themselves. By this, he guarantees the continuity of his family and culture."

Thus, through their cinema, U.S. analysts perceived Japanese as stoic toward the hardships of war and death. But they also acknowledged the films' artistry. After viewing the performance of actor Kamatari Fujiwara (1905-1985) in "Chocolate and the Soldier," Hollywood director Frank Capra was said to have remarked, "We can't surpass this film. It's the type that might only come along once every 10 years. We have no performers of this caliber."

While America devoted its top minds and resources to understanding the enemy, there is no data to suggest that Japan engaged in similar research.

"During the war, America's Department of the Army, Navy, State Department and others recruited experts from all fields to study the opposing side's situation," observes Kenji Tanikawa, associate professor of Cinema History at Ibaraki University. "Japan, on the other hand, prohibited the public showing of American movies along with banning 'enemy language,' such as banning use of the term 'strike' at baseball games, and so on.

"The postures of Japan and the U.S. were a study in diametric opposites."

Also something on wartime cartoons:

http://www.awn.com/mag/issue1.7/article ... chor157125

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http://www.awn.com/mag/issue1.7/images/ ... otoro1.gif

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Richard_
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Post by Richard_ » 28 Sep 2005 12:09

Could you maybe give me some titles, im really interested.



Best regards Richard :)

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 28 Sep 2005 15:06

Some titles:

Five Scouts,1938

"China--Five vastly different soldiers are sent out behind enemy lines on a mission whose danger they little suspect."

Chocolate and Soldiers,1938

"...about a father fighting in China who sends his son letters from the battle field along with chocolate candy wrappers."


Mud and Soldiers,1939

'China--said to show the drain of war on the emotions of the Japanese soldier."

Fighting Soldiers,1939

Banned from release---said to be the equivalent Japanese version of 'All Quiet on the Western Front'--the semi-documentary " to the dismay of the producers the completed film featured limp and listless soldiers on a desolated landscape where it should have been boosting morale and exalting the Japanese war effort."

Its director Fumio Kamei was later jailed in 1941 for violating the the so-called Peace Preservation Law in promoting pacifist views.


The Story of Tank Commander Nishizumi,1940

"...tells the life story of Nishizumi, beginning with his early schooling in a Japanese village. Following in his father's footsteps, Nishizumi goes to military school and is sent to the Chinese front. He becomes the leader of a tank regiment and his easy and generous ways quickly win over his soldiers. The film follows Nishizumi and his unit as they move into battle, where Nishizumi proves to be a great leader, respected and admired by his troops. As the Japanese close in on Nanking, Nishizumi is wounded several times, but never leaves the front lines, preferring to command while injured. At the battle of Nanking, Nishizumi is shot and killed by a Chinese soldier. As he dies his soldiers stand loyally around him, and he passes with the words, "All I have done is for my Emperor.""


A good book on the subject is The Imperial Screen: Japanese Film Culture in the Fifteen Years' War, 1931-1945 by Peter High.

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Richard_
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Post by Richard_ » 28 Sep 2005 15:57

Tahnks just the information i needed, best regards Richard :)

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Lawrence
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Post by Lawrence » 28 Sep 2005 19:49

Peter H wrote:Some titles:

Five Scouts,1938

"China--Five vastly different soldiers are sent out behind enemy lines on a mission whose danger they little suspect."

Chocolate and Soldiers,1938

"...about a father fighting in China who sends his son letters from the battle field along with chocolate candy wrappers."


Mud and Soldiers,1939

'China--said to show the drain of war on the emotions of the Japanese soldier."

Fighting Soldiers,1939

Banned from release---said to be the equivalent Japanese version of 'All Quiet on the Western Front'--the semi-documentary " to the dismay of the producers the completed film featured limp and listless soldiers on a desolated landscape where it should have been boosting morale and exalting the Japanese war effort."

Its director Fumio Kamei was later jailed in 1941 for violating the the so-called Peace Preservation Law in promoting pacifist views.


The Story of Tank Commander Nishizumi,1940

"...tells the life story of Nishizumi, beginning with his early schooling in a Japanese village. Following in his father's footsteps, Nishizumi goes to military school and is sent to the Chinese front. He becomes the leader of a tank regiment and his easy and generous ways quickly win over his soldiers. The film follows Nishizumi and his unit as they move into battle, where Nishizumi proves to be a great leader, respected and admired by his troops. As the Japanese close in on Nanking, Nishizumi is wounded several times, but never leaves the front lines, preferring to command while injured. At the battle of Nanking, Nishizumi is shot and killed by a Chinese soldier. As he dies his soldiers stand loyally around him, and he passes with the words, "All I have done is for my Emperor.""


A good book on the subject is The Imperial Screen: Japanese Film Culture in the Fifteen Years' War, 1931-1945 by Peter High.
Damn...if only they would release some of these!

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 28 Sep 2005 19:59

Peter H wrote:A good book on the subject is The Imperial Screen: Japanese Film Culture in the Fifteen Years' War, 1931-1945 by Peter High.
Thanks for that suggestion, I've added it to my "to buy" list.

/Marcus

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Post by Peter H » 29 Sep 2005 03:51

The Manchurian Film Cooperative should also be mentioned.Romantic musicals were its forte,"taking the Japanese film box office by storm."

The head of this organisation was one Amakasu Masahiko.

http://cinetext.philo.at/magazine/tomu.html
If it were not for his interest in cigars and classical music, Amakasu could have walked directly out of a samurai film himself. Working for the secret police in the confusion following the Tokyo Earthquake, Amakasu became notorious for his participation in the murders of anarchist Otsugi Sakai, his female companion Noe, and his 7-year old nephew. A protégé of Tojo Hideki, Amakasu was released from prison after only three years. After some time in Paris, Amakasu crossed over to Manchuria to work as a civilian with militarists and saboteurs to "create" Manchuria. Because of his past, Amakasu necessarily worked behind the scenes and in complete devotion to the Japanese emperor. Amakasu was appointed chairman of the Manchurian Film Company in 1937 and, due to his powerful charisma, quickly earned the respect of both the Chinese and Japanese staff.


Amakasu committed suicide in 1945.

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http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/33/33_i ... makasu.jpg

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 29 Sep 2005 04:22

The War at Sea from Hawaii to Malaya,released in December 1942..
...to commemorate the beginning of the Pacific War, has to be considered one of the most ambitious projects of the era: Produced by the Tôhô film studios under the supervision of the Navy Information Office at the Imperial Headquarters and sponsored by the Navy Ministry, its production took nearly one year and resulted in the, up to then, most expensive movie in Japanese film history. Although an advertisement slogan of Tôhô, which claimed that "a hundred million" - [ichi oku nin], i.e. the whole population - has seen the film, seems exaggerated by far, "The War at Sea from Hawaii to Malaya" was widely shown in Japan as well as in the occupied countries, not only in regular film programmes but also in specially organized screenings for school classes or troupes moving out to the front.
The Japanese film does not create and vilify an enemy. More important are the scenes on the training of the seamen and airmen. They are not super warriors but rather ordinary young men from farms and families doing their duty joyfully. The attack on Pearl Harbor comes 1 hour and 26 minutes into the film and lasts only 8 minutes. This is followed by the air attack on and sinking of the two British battleships, the Repulse and the Prince of Wales off Malaya. Thus, the Pearl Harbor attack and battle victory are placed in the larger context of the opening of the Pacific War.
http://www.aems.uiuc.edu/HTML/ChalkGuid ... arbor.html

The film featured a massive and infinitely detailed outdoor scale-model of Pearl Harbor -- and Tsuburaya`s special effects and photographic processes (the first Japanese film to feature optical printing) were so jarring, that after the war, many foreigners have taken them for actual battle footage.
http://www.monsterzero.us/editorials/ed ... ntentID=44

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 29 Sep 2005 14:28

The outdoor Pearl Harbor model used for the movie.

From Pearl Harbor by H.P.Willmot.
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Post by hisashi » 03 Oct 2005 03:21

Some of them are available in Japan.

Fighting soldiers (1939,Tatakau Heitai in Japanese) are available in DVD in Japan here is a catalog data. If you can clear region-code problem and can talk to any shop which have worldwide branches, you can have a copy...of full Japanese movie.

http://r1.jp.rmi.yahoo.co.jp/rmi/http:/ ... ku=1793759

Momotaro no Umiwashi is included in a DVD set of the rarest Japanimation movies before WWII and just after. The set targets libraries and similar public organizations, 360,000 yen for 12 DVDs.

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Post by Kim Sung » 20 Dec 2006 16:40

A poster of 'Momotaro's Sea Eagle' (桃太郎の海鷲). This poster glorifies Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.

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Post by cstunts » 01 Jan 2007 23:27

Hello,

The Motion Picture Law (eigaho) was passed in March/April, 1939, and went into effect about October 1. This was based upon a Motion Picture Law established by Hitlerite Germany "which made film a supporting instrument for the execution of Nazi policy; fascist Itlay had also enacted similar laws." The Motion Picture Law of Japan consisted of no less than 84 articles concerning Regulations for Enforcement as announced by the Home Affairs Ministry, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Welfare. ALL aspects of filmmaking, from feature-length movies to the ubiquitous 10min newsreels of [i]Nichei[/i] were tightly and rigorously controlled. Failure to observe the censorship imposed by the government could & did result in arrest, interrogation, etc. Any notion that films made in Japan (or the occupied territiories) during the Great Pacific War were somehow free expressions is ludicrous at best. Even Japanese actors had to comply by changing their names if the government decided their names might be offensive, i.e., "misunderstood as that of a highborn historical person," etc.
The newsreels were customized for release in specific locales, including Philippines versions (in Tagalog & English), and Celebes, Malaya, and Burma versions as well. Radio went a good deal further...by late 1942 broadcasting from Tokyo to overseas areas totalled 65 hrs per day, incl. programs in German, French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay, Hokkien, Thai, Tagalog,
Portuguese, Arabic, Iranian, Hindi, & Vietnamese. Finding English-speaking broadcasters or performers was of course quite problematic. A number of Allied POWs were compelled to "cooperate" in these productions. Few of these men were willing to speak of their experiences voluntarily; some finally admitting to such acts in the 1990s...

sources: "Japanese Broadcasting in the Pacific War" by Gordon Daniels (1981),
THE JAPAN/AMERICA FILM WARS ed. by Abe, Mark Nornes & Fukushima, Yukio (1994), and FILMS & THE SECOND WORLD WAR by Roger Manvell (1974)--The finest article on the [i]Nampo[/i] film industry is Aiko Kurasawa's "FILMS AS PROPAGANDA MEDIA ON JAVA UNDER THE JAPANESE, 1942-45" (1991) which lists scores of feature films and newsreels of great rarity.

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Post by Balrog » 07 Jan 2008 07:19

Kingsley wrote:
Peter H wrote:Some titles:

Five Scouts,1938

"China--Five vastly different soldiers are sent out behind enemy lines on a mission whose danger they little suspect."

Chocolate and Soldiers,1938

"...about a father fighting in China who sends his son letters from the battle field along with chocolate candy wrappers."


Mud and Soldiers,1939

Which of these films are available on DVD? I have an all region DVD player and even if subtitles are unavailable, I would still like them.
'China--said to show the drain of war on the emotions of the Japanese soldier."

Fighting Soldiers,1939

Banned from release---said to be the equivalent Japanese version of 'All Quiet on the Western Front'--the semi-documentary " to the dismay of the producers the completed film featured limp and listless soldiers on a desolated landscape where it should have been boosting morale and exalting the Japanese war effort."

Its director Fumio Kamei was later jailed in 1941 for violating the the so-called Peace Preservation Law in promoting pacifist views.


The Story of Tank Commander Nishizumi,1940

"...tells the life story of Nishizumi, beginning with his early schooling in a Japanese village. Following in his father's footsteps, Nishizumi goes to military school and is sent to the Chinese front. He becomes the leader of a tank regiment and his easy and generous ways quickly win over his soldiers. The film follows Nishizumi and his unit as they move into battle, where Nishizumi proves to be a great leader, respected and admired by his troops. As the Japanese close in on Nanking, Nishizumi is wounded several times, but never leaves the front lines, preferring to command while injured. At the battle of Nanking, Nishizumi is shot and killed by a Chinese soldier. As he dies his soldiers stand loyally around him, and he passes with the words, "All I have done is for my Emperor.""


A good book on the subject is The Imperial Screen: Japanese Film Culture in the Fifteen Years' War, 1931-1945 by Peter High.
Damn...if only they would release some of these!
Have any of them been released on DVD yet?
Last edited by Balrog on 09 Jan 2008 06:45, edited 1 time in total.

Heinrich George
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Post by Heinrich George » 09 Jan 2008 00:59

There are excerpts from a number of Japanese wartime films on YouTube, but most of the video titles are only given in Japanese so I've found them only by chance.

Here's one of the more interesting. This apparently is the conclusion of a 1941 film called Shidô monogatari , which has been translated as Instructive Story or A Story of Leadership. Most of the footage is of a departing troop train from Chiba. The film features Setsuko Hara, one of the greatest actresses of the Japanese cinema:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykWAvhaPW4Y

The same person has posted two other excerpts from the film. The first apparently is a very early scene and the second a rather strange sequence which looks like a locomotve race but surely isn't.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7iJpSl5 ... re=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iZwHkF6 ... re=related

Unfortunately I don't understand Japanese but my impression is that Shidô monogatari is an interesting film and one which many Westerners who are interested in the period would enjoy watching.

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Balrog
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Post by Balrog » 09 Jan 2008 07:01

Thank you for finding the Youtube clips, Heinrich.

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