Japanese director takes his own country to task

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Japanese director takes his own country to task


Shunji Iwai, left, a Japanese director known for the film “Love Letter,” posted remarks on his Twitter account, right. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Shunji Iwai, a Japanese director known for the 1995 film “Love Letter,” criticized his country for not owning up to its past. His remarks posted on his Twitter account gained attention online at a time of growing tension in Northeast Asia over territorial issues.

The 49-year-old director wrote: “Japan should think from the opposite side [China] of how provocative it is to purchase Diaoyu [or Senkaku Islands]. Japan has forgotten that it started an aggressive war in the past and lost. It is only criticizing the other country so it’s natural that the country is expressing anger.”

It was the first time Iwai expressed his thoughts on the territorial conflict between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are controlled by Japan and called Diaoyu by China.

“Understanding history from a biased point of view, favoring your own country, is only harmful to the country,” he wrote.

After he posting messages on Twitter, Iwai received questions about his thoughts on the rising anti-Japanese sentiment in China and Korea.

“Japan tried to invade neighboring countries and eventually lost to the United States,” he wrote. “Despite its [wrong] deeds, Japan was exempted [from the wrongdoings]. It is only reasonable that a country invaded by Japan is still upset about it, and to me, Japan is weird to have forgotten such facts.”

A Korean posted a tweet saying that he “likes the mother country [Korea] but does not like the Korean government,” and Iwai replied: “I also feel regrettable about the Japanese government.

“The people who live under such government are the only victims,” he wrote. “We should cooperate to maintain peace.”

Outspoken novelist Lee Oi-soo re-tweeted Iwai’s messages, saying that he is a “true artist expressing thoughts.”

Koreans online were moved by the director’s honest but bitter remarks. Some expressed concerns that Iwai may face retaliation from far-right Japanese activists.

Since last year, Iwai has been participating in Japan’s anti-nuclear movement.

By Lee Hyun, Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]
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