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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 June 29 - July 5  > To learn from history contributes to true national interest: TV director
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2016 June 29 - July 5 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

To learn from history contributes to true national interest: TV director

July 2, 2016
Under the Abe government, while TV networks appear to be careful to not offend the government, many documentaries have been produced under various themes such as history, war, and discrimination. Among them is the Nippon Television Network’s documentary series.

A major TV network, Nippon TV, on October 4, 2015 aired a documentary about the Nanjing Incident as part of its series commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII.

The Nanjing Incident, also known as the Nanjing Massacre, occurred in December 1937. The Imperial Japanese military slaughtered Chinese soldiers and citizens when it invaded and occupied the then Chinese capital Nanjing. Right-wing forces are arguing that the massacre never happened and that the incident was fabricated by China as propaganda.

“After the broadcast, I really worried about viewers’ responses,” said Shimizu Kiyoshi, chief director of this documentary. Unexpectedly, 90% of the feedback to the TV company was affirmative.

Explaining the motive to choose the Nanjing Massacre as a theme, Shimizu expressed his feeling that when talking about the 70th anniversary of the war’s end, it is not enough to focus only on Japanese victims in the war. “I know that such a stance is considered by some to be a masochistic view of history. But, I believe, it is vital to face what Japan did to its neighbors during the war in order to maintain publicness and neutrality in broadcasting,” Shimizu added.

In preparation for making the documentary, he conducted careful research on the incident. In the research, he cast a spotlight on a collection of diaries and journals written by troops taking part in the Japanese invasion of Nanjing. The collection was catalogued by a local historian in Fukushima Prefecture. Entries in those diaries and journals provided detailed description about the slaughter such as, “We killed captives, 5,000 Chinese, with machine guns.”

Shimizu carefully investigated the entries of the collection in order to confirm that there was no contradictions in the entries. In addition, he conducted field research regarding the troops’ moves in Nanjing at his expense. Shimizu said, “Cautiousness and prudence is vital in dealing with a controversial theme because one mistake can lead to loss of credibility.”

The documentary ended with the comment, “We have to remember that Japanese soldiers killed many civilians in the war.” Regarding this comment, Shimizu said, “If American people visiting the Hiroshima Peace Museum deny the atomic bombings, how will we react on this? To face our future based on historical facts is the best way to realize the national interest and protect Japan, I think.”

Past related articles:
> NHK governor: Nanjing massacre never happened [February 5, 2014]
> Historical facts refute attempts at sophism: Nanjing Massacre researcher [December 11, 2013]
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