One of Asia's most incendiary issues gets a must-see cinematic investigation
Sneak Preview Screening: "Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue"
followed by a Q&A session with director Miki Dezaki
Thursday, April 4 at 6:30 pm
In Japanese, English and Korean with Japanese and English subtitles USA, 2018 122 minutes
Directed and edited by: Miki Dezaki Produced by: Miki Dezaki and Momoko Hata Featuring: Yoshiko Sakurai, Mio Sugita, Yoshiaki Yoshimi, Koichi Nakano, Kent Gilbert, Tony Marano, Nobukatsu Fujioka, Mina Watanabe, Setsu Kobayashi, Hirofumi Hayashi and more Film courtesy of Tofoo LLC
Unless you're the member of a neo-nationalist group with ties to Japan, you have probably not heard of Miki Dezaki, the Japanese-American teacher who raised uyoku (far-right) ire by posting a video about racism in Japan on YouTube. Rather than ducking for cover as the harassment and death threats continued, Dezaki decided to meet the challenge head-on.
He spent the next several years amassing the type of balanced, in-depth reporting that was once the purview of the news media. On his own dime, he criss-crossed the globe, meeting with a wide-ranging group of experts and eyewitnesses, gathering footage from milestone events dating back to before WWII, even conducting man-on-the-street-style interviews, and then he edited it all into a comprehensive, comprehensible whole.
Dezaki's debut documentary is boldly - and aptly - titled "Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue." As it lays out its complicated timeline of acceptance of facts and increasingly aggressive denials, it takes the audience on an amazing, deep dive into this most contentious of disputes between Japan and Korea, this "gross human rights violation" that has also impacted the lives of women in China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Burma, Malaysia, East Timor and Micronesia.
By casting himself as the lead inquisitor and seeker of understanding, and by patiently countering arguments on both sides of the ideological divide, Dezaki helps us all see just how little we actually knew of the issue. Were all comfort women "sexual slaves?" What does "coercive recruiting" really mean? Does the often-inconsistent testimony of the elderly victims even matter? Does Japan have a legal responsibility to apologize? Are the Chinese paying for those comfort women statues in California? Where the hell is the smoking gun? Why are venerable newspapers like the Japan Times "redefining" their vocabulary around the issue? And what does it all have to do with Shinzo Abe's march to remilitarize Japan?
As the film's surprising confessions and revelations start coming, "Shusenjo" deconstructs the dominant narratives and uncovers the hidden intentions of both supporters and detractors, revealing that few are innocent of fanning the flames of outrage. That Dezaki has managed to de-sensationalize this social flashpoint is just one of the many reasons that "Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue" is a must-see work.
Please join us for this important sneak preview and Q&A with the director, prior to the film's opening on April 20 at Theater Image Forum in Shibuya.
MIKI DEZAKI is a graduate of the Global Studies Graduate Program at Sophia University. He worked for the Japan Exchange Teaching Program for five years in Yamanashi and Okinawa before becoming a Buddhist monk in Thailand for a year. As "Medamasensei," he posted numerous comedy and social issues videos on YouTube. His video "Racism in Japan," discussing zainichi Koreans and burakumin outcasts, led to relentless online attacks by Japanese neo-nationalists. "Shusenjo" is an outgrowth of those attacks. Dezaki's directorial debut, it had its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival in 2018.
Please make your reservations at the FCCJ Reception Desk (3211-3161) or register below. You may attend the Q&A session without attending the screening, but you will not have seating priority. All film screenings are private, noncommercial events primarily for FCCJ members and their guests.